(Ottawa) The federal government announces it has reached a $20 billion settlement to compensate First Nations children and their families who have suffered from chronic underfunding of child protection services.
Posted at 3:16pm
Updated at 6:00 p.m
A new step has been taken in the process of redressing First Nations children and their families harmed by the discriminatory and chronic underfunding of children’s charities: a $20 billion agreement has just been signed between the federal government and plaintiffs class action lawsuit signed.
The final settlement agreement signed Monday between the Canadian government, the First Nations Assembly (AFN) and plaintiffs in two class action lawsuits must be upheld by the Canadian Court of Human Rights and then submitted to the Federal Court of Canada for approval.
The pact provides for the payment of $20 billion to tens of thousands of Indigenous children living on reservations in certain provinces and the Yukon who were evicted from their homes between April 1991 and March 31, 2022 and then knowingly received underfunded government services .
It seals an agreement in principle reached last January and is also part of a $40 billion global deal. The other half of the amount will be used to lay the foundations for a five-year reform of childcare in Aboriginal communities across the country.
“This final settlement is an important step in acknowledging the damage done and beginning the difficult work of healing,” Minister for Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu said in a statement, noting that “no compensation” heals pain and trauma can.
“First Nations children always deserved to be treated fairly and equitably, and this settlement recognizes that this was neither policy nor practice,” said Cindy Woodhouse, APN’s Manitoba regional director.
Both sides hope for a speedy ratification of the agreement by the Canadian Human Rights Court and the Federal Supreme Court. The approval of both authorities is required to start the implementation process of the regulation.
Decades of litigation
The agreement, which the AFN calls a “historic settlement,” initialed Monday, ends a legal saga that spanned nearly three decades and months of negotiations.
The Trudeau government had been sharply criticized by several Indigenous groups for appealing a 2019 ruling by Canada’s Human Rights Court that increased the amount to be paid to each of the harmed children, including their parents and guardians fixed at $40,000.
Last October, when the government appealed a federal court decision upholding the order, the government began negotiations under the supervision of retired Senator Murray Sinclair, who chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Native Boarding Schools.
The agreement signed on Monday also ends a dispute affecting children punished from 2007 to 2017 by the federal government’s narrow definition of the “Jordan Principle” — the principle that an Indigenous child must receive services they need when there is a jurisdictional dispute between Ottawa and the provinces.
- An amount Ottawa was required by Canada’s Human Rights Tribunal to pay to any First Nations child taken from their family, parents, or grandparents.
Canadian Human Rights Court (2019 ruling)