Children’s Services: Ottawa to pay billions to First Nations

An agreement in principle that would see the federal government pay billions of dollars to First Nations people who have suffered from poorly funded children’s social services will be announced this week.

Sources told The Canadian Press that negotiations were concluded at the end of the year. The agreement will end a legal challenge that began 14 years ago.

None of the parties involved in the negotiations wanted to talk about it publicly.

“All parties have worked closely together to find a comprehensive solution regarding compensation and a long-term reform of social services for First Nations children and families. We plan to provide an update on Tuesday, ”said Department of Indigenous Services communications director Andrew MacKendrick.

This case represented a huge blight in the federal government’s efforts to reconcile with Indigenous peoples.

In 2016, the human rights tribunal found that Ottawa had discriminated against First Nations children by knowingly underfunding child and family services for those living on reserve.

The Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, which filed the original complaint in 2007, said it led to thousands of children being taken from their families. and suffer abuse and suffering in provincial foster care systems.

In 2019, the court declared that every First Nations child as well as their parents or grandparents who have been separated since 1is January 2006 because of this chronic underfunding were eligible to receive $ 40,000 in federal compensation, the maximum amount he could grant.

The Assembly of First Nations estimated that around 54,000 children were affected, bringing the minimum bill for compensation to $ 2.1 billion. If all of their parents also got compensation, that number would double.

Last fall, the government began negotiating with aboriginal leaders on a deal, even though it appealed the latest court ruling upholding the tribunal’s ruling. Former Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was hired to facilitate the discussions.

In Canada, Indigenous children represent more than half of foster children, even though they only represent 8% of all children under 15. In some provinces, up to 90% of children in care are First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

Federal Ministers Patty Hajdu and Marc Miller are expected to provide an update on the agreement on Tuesday with Assembly of First Nations regional chief of Manitoba Cindy Woodhouse.

In December, the government had set aside $ 40 billion to compensate indigenous children harmed by the system. The agreement would seek to determine who will be eligible for compensation, when the payment will be made and how it will be done.

Half of the announced sum is expected to be used for compensation and the other half for reform of the system.

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