OTTAWA, Oct. 27, 2016 /CNW/ – The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, along with the Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, issued the following statement today:
“Our priority continues to be first and foremost the wellbeing of children. Our government welcomes, accepts and is complying with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings and orders regarding Child and Family Services on reserve and Jordan’s Principle.
Our government is committed to nothing less than a systemic overhaul of child and family services from coast to coast to coast. This is why today, we announced the appointment of Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux as the Minister’s Special Representative (MSR) responsible for leading a national engagement process and providing advice on the reform of the on-reserve First Nations Child and Family Services program. Dr. Wesley-Esquimaux’s work will reflect renewed Nation-to-Nation relationships with First Nations communities, through engagement with a number of key partners, including First Nations youth and leadership, national and regional organizations, services providers and the provinces and Yukon Territory. This is a concrete step in our commitment to engage with partners to develop options for full-scale reform.
For Jordan’s Principle, we have introduced a new approach, integrated with provinces and territories, with an expanded scope to make sure no child falls through the cracks, and have provided an additional $382 million over three years in new funding. As a result of this new approach, we have confirmed coverage for almost 900 First Nations children to receive services and supports through Canada’s expanded definition of Jordan’s Principle. A great proportion of these children are receiving support for respite care, and funding has also been provided for supports such as specialized medical equipment and supplies; medical transportation; specialized day programs; and addiction treatment programs. Our government has also committed to enhancing service coordination and to working with our provincial and territorial partners to ensure that First Nations children have access to the same publicly funded health and social services available to other children where they live.
Budget 2016 also made historic investments in First Nations child welfare, with nearly $635 million over five years in new funding. This includes $71 million this year for immediate relief for additional prevention services to address the most pressing concerns.
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners wrote the Calls to Action they wisely began with child welfare. In the same manner, our government is committed to reforming child and family services and ensuring we are putting the needs of Indigenous children first. Through working in genuine partnership we will truly be able to change the status quo.”