The Government of Canada’s assessment of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's ruling on compensation
On September 6, 2019, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling was released awarding compensation to First Nations children living on reserve and in the Yukon, who were:
- unnecessarily removed from their homes, family and communities
- necessarily removed from their homes, families and communities and placed in care outside of their families and communities
- denied essential services and placed in care outside of their homes in order to receive those essential services during the period December 12, 2007 to November 2, 2017
- not removed from their homes, but who were denied essential services, or who experienced delay in the provision of such services during the period December 12, 2007 to November 2, 2017
The CHRT also awarded compensation to the caregiving parents or grandparents of those children. However, parents or grandparents who abused children are not eligible to get compensation.
According to the ruling, discussions between the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society are needed to determine the process for distributing the compensation to the victims. The CHRT, after hearing from the parties by December 10, 2019 would then make a determination on the appropriate process to identify victims and to distribute compensation. It would also continue to oversee the process until it is satisfied that the compensation has been addressed.
This is a significant ruling that raises important questions and considerations, such as who is to be compensated, the role of the CHRT, the impact on standing CHRT decisions, significant dedicated resources and other issues.
It is from that perspective that the government filed a judicial review and a stay on October 4, 2019.
Facts and figures
Indigenous Services Canada supports First Nations children, their families and communities, and has been addressing injustices identified by the Tribunal.
Investments and actions taken in recent years include:
- From July 2016 to August 31, 2019 more than 358,000 products, services and supports were approved for First Nations children under Jordan's Principle. This included a review of past denied requests under Jordan's Principle and reimbursements for expenses incurred by families since April 2007.
- Implementation of the orders issued since 2016 and prior to September 2019 included significantly increased investments for child and family services, nearly doubling the program's budget to $1.2 billion annually.
- The enactment of the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, which will come into force on January 1, 2020, recognizes the jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services and provides a framework Indigenous peoples can use to exercise jurisdiction at a pace they choose. Provinces and territories will be able to work with Indigenous governing bodies and the department towards coordination agreements related to the exercise of jurisdiction by Indigenous groups over child and family services. Through the act, national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality have been established to help guide the provision of Indigenous child and family services. The principles established in the act represent minimum standards. Nothing precludes Indigenous groups or communities, as well as provincial and territorial governments, from offering greater protection through their child and family services legislation.
What you need to know
Does the stay and judicial review impact Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)'s day-to-day operations such as paying on actuals, evaluating claims?
ISC continues to implement previous rulings from the CHRT, including paying actual costs of First Nations child and family services agencies, including for prevention, and determining requests submitted to Jordan's Principle within the ordered timeframes.
Is the Government expecting additional rulings from the CHRT?
The CHRT is expected to issue further rulings regarding:
- compensation for small agencies
- major capital
- the definition of First Nations child for the purposes of Jordan's Principle
- ISC's ability to establish deadlines for band representative services
What is ISC's record on addressing the orders issued since 2016 and prior to September 2019?
- Jordan's Principle is an ongoing legal obligation, which Canada will continue to uphold
- Jordan's Principle is available to all First Nations children, anywhere in Canada, including those in care
- Jordan's Principle makes sure all First Nations children can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them. It can help with a wide range of health, social and educational needs
- From July 2016 to August 31, 2019 more than 358,000 products, services and supports were approved for First Nations children under Jordan's Principle. This includes mental health supports, medical equipment, speech therapy, educational supports, and more
- Information about Jordan's Principle, how to submit a request and how to contact a regional representative is available at Jordan's Principle
Child and family services reform
- The enactment of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, which will come into force on January 1, 2020, affirms the jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples in relation to child and family services and provides a framework Indigenous peoples can use to exercise jurisdiction at a pace they choose
- An Emergency Meeting on First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation Child and Family Services was held in January 2018 with Indigenous partners, provincial and territorial ministers, youth representatives (including youth with lived experience), experts and advocates
- Canada committed to 6 points of action to reform First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation child and family services
- The systemic remedies previously ordered by the CHRT, between 2016 and prior to September 6, 2019, are being fully implemented to ensure that First Nations children, families and communities have access to essential services and supports required
- ISC has nearly doubled the First Nations Child and Family services budget since 2016 from $676 million to $1.2 billion annually
- Budget 2018 provided an additional $1.4 billion over 6 years, starting in 2017 to 2018, to address funding pressures facing First Nations Child And Family Services agencies, while also increasing prevention resources for communities so that children are safe and families can stay together