Agreements-in-Principle reached on compensation and long-term reform of First Nations child and family services and Jordan’s Principle

January 4, 2022 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada

The Government of Canada is pleased to announce that Agreements-in-Principle have been reached on a global resolution related to compensation for those harmed by discriminatory underfunding of First Nations child and family services and to achieve long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and Jordan’s Principle, to ensure that no child faces discrimination again.

This is a result of discussions between Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Chiefs of Ontario, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and counsel for the Moushoom and Trout class actions.

We begin by acknowledging the generations of First Nations who have advocated so strongly for their children including Residential School Survivors, Sixties Scoop Survivors and children, young people and families whose lives are touched by this case. Their strength and the advocacy of First Nations leaders and service providers have made this step toward change possible. No amount of money can reconnect First Nations children and youth with their cultures nor reverse the suffering experienced by First Nations children, youth, their families and communities. We recognize the harms experienced by the children, youth and families who continue to suffer because of Canada’s discrimination related to the First Nations Child and Family Services program and Jordan’s Principle found by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT).

We would also like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the Honourable Murray Sinclair and his team, who assisted all Parties in reaching this significant milestone by chairing the discussions. We thank him for his time, energy, and dedication over these past weeks.

This has been a challenging time. The unmarked graves of children who attended Residential Schools, climate change emergencies and the pandemic have deepened the disadvantages that many First Nations families and communities face.

Reforming the First Nations Child and Family Services program to provide culturally-based and substantially equal family supports is especially urgent given these additional pressures on families. It is imperative that First Nations leadership, Elders, and service providers have the supports they need for their critical work.

These Agreements-in-Principle provide a basis for final settlement agreements to be negotiated over the coming months. Once the final settlement agreements are reached and the necessary CHRT and Federal Court orders are made, children and families harmed by discriminatory underfunding will be compensated and measures will be implemented to better meet the needs of children, youth and families and to prevent this type of discrimination from recurring. This will chart a path for long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and Jordan’s Principle, reducing the number of First Nations children in care, keeping children connected to their families, communities and cultures and ensuring that First Nations children have access to the services they need, when they need them.

The Agreements-in-Principle include:

  • $20 billion in compensation for First Nations children on-reserve and in the Yukon, who were removed from their homes between April 1, 1991 and March 31, 2022, and for their parents and caregivers. This also includes compensation for those impacted by the government’s narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle between December 12, 2007 and November 2, 2017, as well as for children who did not receive or were delayed receiving an essential public service or product between April 1, 1991 and December 11, 2007. Our shared goal is to achieve a settlement that can be delivered to families as soon as possible.
  • Approximately $20 billion, over five years, for long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program to ensure that the discrimination found by the CHRT never repeats itself. This includes funding to support young First Nations adults aging out of the child welfare system and prevention services to build on the multi-generational cultural strengths to help children and families in staying together that will be implemented as early as April 2022. There is also new funding for on-reserve housing to support these prevention initiatives.

This important work respects the diversity of First Nations and takes into consideration regional realities, such as remoteness. It is also important to note the integral role that provinces and territories fulfill in improving First Nations child and family services through tripartite tables, technical working groups and regional advisory committees.

The Parties will continue to work together to reach final settlement agreements on both compensation and long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program. These agreements would support future work on reforms of Jordan’s Principle and other initiatives by Indigenous Services Canada. This process will unfold over the course of 2022, and more information will be forthcoming.

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