CHIEFS OF ONTARIO CONTINUE TO CALL FOR AN END TO FUNDING DISCRIMINATION FOR FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN AS HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL RESUMES
The Government of Canada appears today before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to respond to allegations that it is discriminating against First Nations children and families by under-funding child and family services on reserve.
The Government of Canada has reportedly spent over 3 million dollars and five years fighting to have the Canadian Human Rights complaint, originally filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada (FNCFCS) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), dismissed on legal technicalities.
The FNCFCS and the AFN allege that the Government of Canada under-funds child welfare services for First Nations children on-reserve, leading to lesser or no service compared to the provincial standard. The inequities in First Nations child welfare have been well documented by the Auditor General of Canada and others. The Government of Canada funds and is actively involved in the on-reserve program.
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy stated, “To fight in court at the cost of millions of dollars against the well-being of our children is an international embarrassment for all Canadians. The resources could have been put to better use in addressing the reality on the ground rather than arguing legal technicalities that would allow the federal government to continue to shirk their responsibility.”
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Convention on the Rights of the Child are instruments of international human rights law that contravene the continued discrimination in funding.
The new federal Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has an opportunity to show that he is sincere in building improved relationships with First Nations and by extension better outcomes for our children and youth,” stated Regional Chief Beardy. “The data shows that First Nations child welfare agencies are funded 22% less than their provincial counterparts and this means less support to keep our children safely in their families.”
The Regional Chief indicated that Minister Bernard Valcourt cannot and should not spin the facts. “The numbers are clear. This government cannot allow this discrimination to continue. It is unconscionable and must be addressed,” said Regional Chief Beardy. The First Nations in Ontario will be involved in the Human Rights Tribunal as it resumes today and will continue to advocate for justice and fairness for First Nations children and youth.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.