By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal announced recently that an historic settlement the government negotiated to compensate Indigenous children wrongly put through the foster system doesn’t go far enough in compensating victims.
The $20 billion settlement doesn’t do enough in two key respects, the CHRT said in its ruling, not all victims or survivors were covered by the agreement, and a list of all the categories of victims and survivors was removed from the agreement.
On June 30, the Assembly of First Nations and the federal government signed a $20-billion agreement to compensate victims of `discriminatory underfunding’ of First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program, the AFN said.
The endorsement of the Human Rights Tribunal and Federal Court were conditions for the agreement. The tribunal found that while the agreement “substantially satisfied” its orders, it didn’t do so fully.
The federal government said in a statement signed by federal justice minister David Lametti, Crown-Indigenous Relations minister Marc Miller and Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu that it would go back to the drawing board and attempt to create a settlement that will satisfy the CHRT.
“Canada will ensure fair and equitable compensation to First Nations children and families harmed by the discriminatory underfunding of the First Nations Child and Family Services program and those impacted by the federal government’s narrow definition of Jordan’s Principle,” they said. “To that end, we will work with the parties under the existing final settlement agreement, so that compensation can flow to children and families.”
In order to comply with the legal requirement to respond to the CHRT within 30 days, the government has filed an application for judicial review.
`The judicial review Canada is seeking will not impede the work with the parties to determine how to distribute compensation to children and families in areas of agreement,’ the government said, that despite its best efforts, the CHRT wouldn’t and couldn’t ratify the agreement.
`The Tribunal did not accept the negotiated agreement, despite being the largest settlement agreement in Canada’s history, one that was First Nations-led and First Nations designed,’ its statement said. `The federal government will also continue our joint work on the settlement agreement for long-term reform of First Nations child and family services, and Jordan’s Principle.’
Marc Lalonde is as Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the IORI:WASE. The LJI program is federally funded.