Progress on 6 points of action to address the over-representation of Indigenous children in care

At the Emergency Meeting on Child and Family Services held in January 2018, the Government of Canada committed to 6 points of action to address the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada.

The Government of Canada has since made progress on its commitment and on each point of action.

Select the progress boxes under any of the 6 commitments for information about the progress being made.

1. Continuing the work to fully implement all orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and reforming child and family services including moving to a flexible funding model

Progress on point of action 1
  • Canada has begun implementing the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) issued on February 1, 2018. Canada has:
    • been funding First Nations Child and Family Services Agencies for their actual costs in the areas ordered by the CHRT, as part of Canada's ongoing efforts to provide agencies with the funding they need to meet the best interests and needs of First Nations children and families, retroactive to January 2016
    • Worked with the Assembly of First Nations to contract the Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) at the University of Ottawa to analyze FNCFS agency needs to inform the development of an alternative funding system
    • been providing funding to stakeholders in Ontario for the reimbursement of costs related to mental health services for First Nations children and youth retroactive to January 2016
    • been providing funding to bands and Ontario for the reimbursement of costs related to the provision of Band Representative Services retroactive to January 2016
  • Canada has formed a Consultation Committee on Child Welfare (CCCW) Reform. This committee is co-chaired by the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and is comprised of senior assistants and assistant deputy ministers from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and all parties of the tribunal. Early accomplishments of this committee include the development of a protocol to govern consultations between Canada and the CHRT complainants and interested parties with a goal towards eliminating discrimination against First Nations children.
  • Canada is also working with the Ontario Technical Table on Child and Family Well-Being on an Ontario special study, and with Nishnawbe Aski Nation to develop a remoteness quotient for First Nations delegated agencies in Northern Ontario.
  • From July 2016 to October 31, 2018, there have been more than 171,000 requests for products, services and supports approved for First Nations children under Jordan's Principle. The Government of Canada introduced Jordan's Principle: A Child First Initiative in 2016. Under this initiative, $382.5 million was secured as a first investment to immediately address health, social and education services. These include a variety of supports such as mental health supports, medical equipment, speech therapy, educational supports, and more.
  • As of June 19, 2018, the eligibility criteria for Jordan's Principle have been expanded to include non-status Indigenous children ordinarily resident on-reserve. This expansion is an important step towards improving the well-being of Indigenous children, their families and communities.
  • In 2018, a 24/7 national call centre was established for Jordan's Principle which provides another channel for First Nations children to access the products, services and supports they need. As of November 26, 2018, a total of 2,809 calls have been received, resulting in 849 requests for services.
  • ISC supported the September 2018 Assembly of First Nations Jordan's Principle Summit in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The summit provided First Nations leadership, families and community members the opportunity to join together with health practitioners and service providers, among others, to share lessons learned and promising practices for the implementation of Jordan's Principle to date, as well as to discuss shared priorities and their vision for the future of Jordan's Principle.

In addition to progress made on Jordan's Principle and reforming First Nations child and family services, on September 10, 2018, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and ISC announced that the immediate health, social and education needs of Inuit children would be responded to and addressed through an Inuit-specific Child First Initiative. Meanwhile, the Government of Canada continues to work with Inuit partners, provinces and territories to develop a long-term Inuit-specific approach to better address the unique health, social and education needs of Inuit children.

2. Shifting the programming focus to prevention and early intervention

Progress on point of action 2
  • As part of its commitment to reform the First Nations Child and Family Services program, Canada is working with First Nations and provincial/territorial partners across the country to fundamentally change the system to be truly child-centered, community-directed, and focused on prevention.
    • In 2017-2018, Canada began supporting community and child well-being initiatives across the country, such as:
      • a contribution of $800,000 to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs' First Nations Family Advocate Office to transform how services are provided to First Nations children and families in Manitoba
      • $500,000 to help Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre Inc. expand its family group conferencing services
  • In addition, Canada has committed to fully implementing the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which includes paying actual costs for prevention activities, retroactive to January 2016.
  • Budget 2018 provided increased funding for agency service providers so that they can better support the best interests of First Nations children and families. It also provided funding for First Nations communities to lead the development and delivery of prevention services and to assert greater control over the well-being of their children and families.
    • As per the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders, Canada is reimbursing agencies' actual costs in prevention and various areas retroactively to January 2016, and going forward until an alternative funding system is in place.
    • The introduction of a new funding stream for Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiatives is designed to enable projects of up to five years to:
      • expand the availability of prevention and well-being initiatives that are responsive to community needs
      • support First Nations in developing and implementing jurisdictional models

3. Supporting communities to exercise jurisdiction and explore the potential for co-developed federal child and family services legislation

Progress on point of action 3
  • Canada-wide engagement sessions were held over the summer and fall of 2018 with Indigenous communities, agencies, experts and representatives as well as provinces and territories to explore the possibility of options for co-developed federal legislation on First Nations, Métis and Inuit child and family services reform. Over 65 sessions have been held, involving nearly 2,000 participants.
  • Canada is also working to support multiple First Nations to assert jurisdiction for child and family services. For example:
    • Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation Tribal Council in and the Wet'suwet'en Nation. Both Memorandums of Understanding will serve as a framework to recognize jurisdiction over child and family service.
    • Canada signed a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2017 with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to explore restoration of jurisdiction with First Nations in Manitoba.
    • Canada funded the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan to conduct engagement on transferring jurisdiction over child and family services.
    • The Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia are seeking law-making authority to govern the delivery of child and family services. ISC and the province of Nova Scotia are providing funding support.

4. Accelerating the work of trilateral and technical tables that are in place across the country

Progress on point of action 4

Tripartite tables, technical working groups, and regional advisory committees are in place in each province and Yukon, comprised of representatives from First Nations, the Government of Canada and Provinces and Yukon Territory. For example:

  • Alberta has two groups that meet regularly to discuss issues on First Nations children and youth in care: the Senior Officials Steering Committee, and the Trilateral Working Group. Both are made up of representatives from the Confederacy of Treaty Six, the Treaty 7 Management Corporation, Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Alberta.
  • Saskatchewan has an active tripartite working group that meets regularly made up of representatives from the Government of Canada, Ministry of Social Services, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies. ISC is working with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations to establish a Saskatchewan First Nations Leadership Table on child and family services.
  • Nova Scotia has an active tripartite working group that meets regularly. Other provinces are taking steps to establish a tripartite working group and then to establish a senior-level tripartite table on child and family services.
  • In Ontario, the Technical Table on Child and Family Well-Being provides advice and recommendations to leadership on child and family services policy and funding reform, with a common interest in the continuous improvement of First Nations child and family well-being in Ontario. The multi-party technical table includes representatives of:
    • the Chiefs of Ontario
    • Ontario's Indigenous Representative Organizations
    • independent Ontario First Nations
    • Indigenous Services Canada
    • the Government of Ontario's Ministry of Children and Youth Services
  • Since 2001, in Manitoba, the Regional Advisory Committee on First Nations Child and Family Services has played a key role in tripartite discussions on child and family services. Its membership includes representatives from:
    • the Province of Manitoba
    • First Nations political organizations
    • First Nations child and family services agencies and authorities

The funding model working group, a sub-committee of the regional advisory committee, was tasked with developing a new funding model for child and family services and includes membership from the regional advisory committee.

  • A Memorandum of Understanding with the Métis Nation is intended to guide the development and implementation of a ten-year Canada-Métis Nation Child and Family Services Accord. To support this, a Canada-Métis Nation Working Group on Métis Child and Family Services Reform has been established, including representatives from the Métis National Council and its governing members, as well as departmental officials from ISC.
  • The Emergency Meeting provided a starting point for federal, provincial, territorial and Inuit leadership to determine how to collectively work together to redesign child and family services for Inuit in the four land claim regions (Inuit Nunangat) and in urban centres. The work is with a view to reducing the number of Inuit children coming into care and for empowering communities in improving child, family and community well-being.

5. Supporting Inuit and Métis Nation leadership to advance culturally-appropriate reform

Progress on point of action 5
  • Permanent bilateral mechanism forums have been established respectively between Canada and the Métis Nation and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as well as the Assembly of First Nations, to provide distinction-based fora to jointly set priorities and oversee outcomes.
  • The third meeting of Ministers and Métis Nation leaders was held on June 15, 2018, and the second meeting with the Prime Minister since the signing of the Canada-Métis Nation Accord was held on April 13, 2017. Child and family services has been identified as a priority for action in year two in the accord to address the over-representation of Métis children in care.
  • The Métis National Council held a Child and Family Services Summit in Winnipeg in March 2018, where Minister Philpott announced $1 million in funding to the Métis Nation to support engagement efforts towards culturally appropriate child and family services reform.
  • Departmental officials have engaged with the Métis National Council and its governing members on the co-development of options for potential legislation for child and family services.
  • The fourth Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee meeting was held since the signing of the Inuit Nunangat Declaration on February 9, 2017. The committee of Ministers, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the leaders of the four Inuit land claims organizations met on June 26, 2018 in Inuvik where child and family services reform was part of the agenda for the first time. "Children in care" is part of the committee's 2018-2019 workplan in the health and wellness priority area.
  • Minister Jane Philpott and ISC officials have engaged with a number of Inuit governments and organizations on the reform of child and family services in Inuit Nunangat and in urban settings, including:
    • Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
    • Pauktuutit (Inuit Women of Canada)
    • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
    • the Nunatsiavut Government

6. Developing a data and reporting strategy with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners

Progress on point of action 6

The development of a national data and reporting strategy on First Nations child family services is currently in its initial stages. The first goal of this strategy is to provide a more complete picture of the situation and challenges faced by First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families.

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