By Stephanie Taylor
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA-First Nations chiefs have endorsed a revised multi-billion-dollar settlement for children and families harmed by Ottawa’s underfunding of on-reserve child and family services.
Chiefs gathered for a special meeting of the Assembly of First Nations passed a motion today supporting the new deal, which includes an extra $3 billion from Ottawa and increases the total compensation package to $23 billion.
In 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to pay $40,000 in compensation to First Nations families and kids who were wrongfully separated as a result of its underfunding of on-reserve child welfare, prompting two class-action lawsuits.
The federal government started negotiating with the Assembly of First Nations in 2021 to settle the suits, and ultimately agreed to spend $20 billion on reforming the child-welfare system and another $20 billion on compensation.
The deal was thrown into question last year after the tribunal rejected the proposed settlement, stating concerns that not all claimants would receive the $40,000 in compensation.
But as chiefs gathered this week in Ottawa, the assembly announced that a revised settlement had been reached, which would included 13,000 more children and other amendments that it felt would satisfy the tribunal’s concerns.
The new settlement agreement will now be presented to the tribunal for approval.
Chiefs also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make a “formal and meaningful” apology to the plaintiffs and victims.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2023.