Key highlights of the act
The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (formerly Bill C-92) was co-developed with Indigenous partners and became law on June 21, 2019.
Section by section description of the act
This provides an overview of the act and should be read in conjunction with the act.
Section 1: definitions
Defines terms used in the act, including "family" and "Indigenous governing body"
Section 2: rights of Indigenous peoples
States that the act is to be construed as upholding the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982
Section 3: conflict with existing agreement
Provides that agreements, which are legally binding, prevail over the act in the case of conflict or inconsistency if they predate the coming into force of the act
Section 4: minimum standards
Confirms that the act creates minimum standards respecting child and family services provided in relation to Indigenous children
Section 5: Nunavut Act
Section respecting the legislative powers of the legislature for Nunavut
Section 6: designation of minister
Authorizes the Governor in Council to designate a federal minister for the purposes of the act
Section 7: Her Majesty
Provides that the act is binding on Canada and the provinces and territories
Sections 8 and 9: purpose and principles
Establishes the purposes of the act and the principles according to which the act is to be interpreted and administered
Section 10: best interests of Indigenous child
Explains how the principle of the best interests of the child should be understood and applied in the context of the act
Sections 11 to 15: provision of child and family services
Sets out certain requirements and rights related to the provision of child and family services to an Indigenous child
Sections 16 and 17: placement of Indigenous child
Sets out certain requirements respecting the placement of an Indigenous child
Section 18: jurisdiction, child and family services
Affirms the jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services
Section 19: application of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Addresses the application of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Sections 20 to 24: coordination and application
Addresses the exercise of jurisdiction in relation to child and family services as well as the application and coordination of laws of Indigenous groups, communities or peoples
Sections 25 and 26: publication and accessibility
Sets out requirements respecting the publication and accessibility of certain information
Sections 27 to 30: information
Sets out certain powers respecting the gathering and use of information respecting child and family services provided to Indigenous children and information about individuals in relation to whom those services are provided
Section 31: five-year review and report
Requires that the act be reviewed periodically and that a report be tabled in Parliament
Section 32: regulations
Sets out authority for the making of regulations
Sections 33 and 34: transitional provisions
Describes how transitional matters arising from the coming into force of the act are handled
Section 35: coming into force
Specifies that the provisions of the act come into force on a day or days to be fixed by order of the Governor in Council
Section 10: best interests of an Indigenous child
The act establishes that, when determining the best interests of an Indigenous child, primary consideration is given to the child's physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being. The act puts Indigenous children first so they can stay with their families and communities and grow up immersed in their cultures.
The act outlines the factors that would have to be considered when determining the best interests of an Indigenous child:
- the child's physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being
- the importance of preserving the child's cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage
- attachment and emotional ties between the child and significant people in the child's life
- the child's views and preferences
- the child's needs and level of development
- any plans for the child's care
- any family violence and its impact on the child
- any civil or criminal proceeding, order, condition, or measure that is relevant to the safety, security and well-being of the child
The act was amended to clarify that the best interests of the child is to be interpreted, to the extent it is possible to do so, in a manner compatible with a provision of an Indigenous law.
Section 11: provision of child and family services
The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families emphasizes the need for the system to shift from apprehension to prevention, with priority given to services that promote preventive care to support families. It gives priority to services like prenatal care and support to parents. The act also clearly indicates that no Indigenous child should be apprehended solely on the basis or as a result of his or her socio-economic conditions, including poverty, lack of housing or related infrastructure, or state of health of the child's parent or care provider.
Section 16 and 17: placement of an Indigenous child
The act seeks to preserve a child's connection to his or her family, community and culture. As such, it provides the following order of placement of an Indigenous child when apprehension is in the best interest of that child:
- one of the child's parents
- another adult member of the child's family
- an adult who belongs to the same Indigenous group, community or people
- an adult who belongs to an Indigenous community or people other than the one to which the child belongs
- any other adult
The act stresses that Indigenous siblings should be kept together provided it is in their best interest. To achieve this objective, unless immediate apprehension is consistent with the best interests of the child, before apprehending a child who resides with one of the child's parents or another adult member of the child's family, the service provider must demonstrate that reasonable efforts were made to have the child continue to reside with that person.
The act also ensures that Indigenous children in care keep strong emotional ties with their family and stay connected to their communities and culture. For example, the act establishes an ongoing obligation to re-assess the possibility for an Indigenous foster child to reside with one of the parents or an adult member of his or her family. It also provides that when an Indigenous child is not placed with a member of his or her family, his or her attachment and emotional ties to his or her family are to be promoted.
Section 20: exercising jurisdiction over child and family services as a section 35 rights-bearing Indigenous group
There are two options under this new act for an Indigenous governing body which has developed its own legislation to exercise their jurisdiction over child and family services.
The Indigenous governing body sends a notice to the Minister of Indigenous Services and relevant provincial or territorial governments of their intent to exercise their jurisdiction.
The Indigenous governing body exercises their jurisdiction but their laws on child and family services do not prevail over federal, provincial and territorial laws.
The Indigenous governing body sends a request to enter into a tripartite coordination agreement with Indigenous Services Canada and relevant provincial or territorial governments.
- an agreement is reached within 12 months
- reasonable efforts to reach an agreement were made during the period of 12 months, including use of alternative dispute resolution mechanism
the Indigenous governing body exercises their jurisdiction over child and family services and their laws on child and family services prevail over federal, provincial and territorial laws.
To find out what is required to send a notice or a request to enter into a tripartite coordination agreement, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org