One Year Later – Still No Action by Liberal Government

Canada's Liberal leader and Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau leaves at the conclusion of a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Canada's Prime Minister-Justin Trudeau leaves at the conclusion of a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, October 20, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day says that the new federal funding for child welfare support services is less than half of the funds ordered by a federal tribunal last year – and it still does not adequately address immediate and urgent needs.  

TORONTO – Today marks the one year anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s landmark ruling on discrimination in First Nations child welfare. The Tribunal found that the federal government racially discriminates against 163,000 First Nations children and ordered it to provide immediate relief funding and additional measures set out in its decision to address this discrimination.

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day

“This funding does not adequately respond to the Tribunal’s order to eliminate discrimination,” said Ontario Regional Chief Day. “While the government may argue that it does not want to inject funding into a “broken system”, it can be said that part of the reason why the system is not effective is precisely because there are limited prevention dollars to support First Nations families and child welfare support services.”

“We have been and will continue to push for sustainable funding for child welfare services, mental health services for First Nations children, and adequate funding to examine deficiencies with the funding model in Ontario,” said  Association of Iroquois and Allied Indian (AIAI) Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish, COO Social Services Portfolio Holder. “Some communities have diverted their already limited funding intended for prevention services in order to fill other funding gaps.

“What is equally concerning is that the federal budget amounts allocated to communities are spread out over so many years that they will not adequately address immediate needs. First Nations in Ontario have been clear on outstanding program needs and the need for true engagement. Action on these outstanding items must happen now, and the funding orders must be carried out now.”

The Tribunal had further found that INAC’s failure to properly implement Jordan’s Principle, a measure to ensure First Nations children can access public services on the same terms as other children, was discriminatory on the basis of race and national ethnic origin.

On November 1, 2016, the House of Commons voted unanimously to support an NDP motion to force the federal government to end systemic discrimination against children in First Nations communities. First Nations communities have not heard anything about this funding since the motion was adopted.

“The funding shortfalls and lack of services, combined with poverty and despair is this country’s greatest social injustice since the days of residential schools. All Canadians must demand that all levels of government recognize that First Nation children must have access to the same services as their own children,” said Regional Chief Day.

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