UNICEF welcomes passing of motion on First Nations child welfare, urging critical action for equity
TORONTO, November 1, 2016 – UNICEF Canada has responded to today’s motion in the House of Commons to improve First Nations child welfare and comply with a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling. The motion, introduced by NDP Indigenous Affairs Critic Charlie Angus, also calls on the government to adopt “Jordan’s Principle,” which ensures no First Nations child experiences delays, disruptions or denials of services ordinarily available to other children. UNICEF Canada’s Chief Program Officer, Meg French, provided the following response:
“We are extremely pleased that Parliament has come together to put First Nations children above other considerations and take a step toward fairness. To act on the motion, the Government of Canada needs to immediately increase funding for First Nations child welfare services to ensure they are provided for to at least the standard for other Canadian children, and to fully implement Jordan’s Principle without qualification. The current response leaves some children without access to basic services on the basis of arbitrary conditions like the type of disability they have. Canada is one step closer to achieving equity for all children and to making this the best country to grow up in – for every child.
For too long, Canada’s First Nations children have suffered discrimination in the delivery of health and social services that should be guaranteed through proper service standards, funding and delivery. The social safety net we, as a society, owe them isn’t there and too many First Nations children fall through the cracks. Despite the CHRT ruling, the response to rectify disparities has been partial and inadequate to ensure timely access for all children regardless of their health or disability status, geographic location or any other barrier. Reconciliation must work for the most vulnerable children. The steps are clear, achievable and a small fraction of public spending.
We welcome today’s motion as a united commitment that Canadians can stand behind. We encourage the government to act immediately to implement the CHRT orders and to continue moving in the right direction – towards equity, towards justice, and towards a Canada we can all be proud of. We look forward to continue working with our government and other partners to ensure the well-being of all children."