A tentative deal whereby Ottawa will pay billions of dollars in compensation to First Nations children victims of an underfunded child welfare system is expected to be announced in Ottawa this week.
Sources confirmed to The Canadian Press that negotiations reached their final stage on New Year’s Eve, culminating in a deal that could finally end a human rights challenge launched 14 years ago.
Neither party to the negotiations is reportedly discussing the issue publicly on Sunday.
“All parties have worked closely towards a global resolution regarding compensation and long-term reform of First Nations child and family services and we look forward to providing a further update. full Tuesday, ”said Andrew MacKendrick, director of communications for the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. services.
The case has been a gaping scourge in reconciliation efforts with Canada’s Indigenous peoples, as the former and current federal governments have spent millions of dollars fighting it in court.
The battle began in 2007 when the First Nations Children and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint claiming that the chronic underfunding of child protection services in on-reserve discriminated against the services provided by provincial governments to off-reserve children.
Following several court challenges and unsuccessful appeals by the former Conservative government, the complaint was heard by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in 2013 and 2014. In 2016, the court ruled that the federal government had shown proof. discrimination against First Nations children.
The Liberal government appealed the ruling, asking a court to overturn it. The court refused.
Ottawa pays for child welfare on reserve, but never matches provincial spending unless the children are in foster care.
The result is far more child apprehensions and family breakdowns than necessary, and far fewer services and supports to help families get through a crisis.
The most recent census data shows that less than eight percent of Canadian children under 15 are Indigenous, but Indigenous youth make up more than half of children under 15 in foster care.
In 2019, the court ordered the federal government to pay $ 40,000 in compensation to every child who has been unnecessarily removed from their family since January 1, 2006, and to parents or grandparents whose children have been removed. The amount represents the maximum compensation the court could order.
The Assembly of First Nations estimated in 2019 that more than 50,000 children could be eligible, but the federal government took no action to manage compensation until this fall.
They first challenged the order in court, and this fall they appealed the decision upholding the order.
But that appeal was immediately put on hold pending negotiations with indigenous leaders over the compensation package. Former Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, has been hired to help facilitate the talks.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller will join Manitoba Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse on Tuesday to discuss an update on talks on The compensation.
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Executive Director Cindy Blackstock is also expected to speak in the announcement later Tuesday afternoon.
Last month, Ottawa set aside $ 40 billion for compensation, as well as child welfare reforms. The agreement should specify who will be eligible for the payments, how and when they will be paid.
About half of the funds are expected to go to compensation and the other half to reforms. These reforms will come largely under Bill C-92, passed in June 2019, which affirms that jurisdiction for child welfare services in Indigenous communities rests with Indigenous families and communities themselves.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
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