CHRT says Jordan’s Principle applies to all First Nation children

OTTAWA – On May 26 the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) has again ruled that Canada has yet to comply with previous orders to implement Jordan’s Principle, which is a child-first principle that every First Nation child should have access to the same government services as all Canadian children.

The Tribunal has clarified that if a province provides a health or social service, the federal government should fund the service immediately, and that the federal government should consider providing other services to advance First Nation’s children’s equality.

In addition, the CHRT has ruled that Jordan’s Principle applies to all children on and off-reserve; it is not limited to children with disabilities; and it is not limited to health services, but also includes dental and mental health, physiotherapy, special education, speech therapy, and so on.

In response to today’s decision, Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society), is calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to intervene to ensure the Tribunal’s orders are finally met.

“It is vital that the Prime Minister personally intervene to ensure INAC and Health Canada fully comply with Jordan’s Principle,” said Blackstock. “Today’s ruling includes evidence from the Tribunal hearing that shows the deaths of at least two children are related to Canada’s non-compliance. It should not take four Tribunal orders and counting to get Canada to treat First Nations children lawfully and equitably.”

To date, despite the Tribunal’s rulings, the Government of Canada has been applying Jordan’s Principle only to children with disabilities living on reserve. Canada has also failed to live up to its own motion in the House of Commons from 2016 to immediately inject an additional $155 million into the child welfare system. To date, it is estimated that only an additional $67 million has been allocated nationally.

“Jordan’s Principle was passed unanimously by the House of Commons back in 2007 to ensure that First Nation children were not to be denied or delayed health and social services,” said AIAI Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish Chair of the COO Chiefs Committee on Social Services. “Last November, I was in attendance when the House of Commons again unanimously passed an NDP motion to immediately provide the additional $155 million. This has yet to happen.

“In this day and age of Reconciliation, Canada must comply with all CHRT rulings. I want to remind Canada that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action are strongly focused on equality in child health and welfare,” said Regional Chief Isadore Day. “Our children must no longer be left behind, must no longer suffer needlessly due to bureaucratic denial and delays. Now is the time to allow our children and their families the basic human right to health and welfare enjoyed by all Canadians.”

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