Child Welfare (1-5): Current Problems

QC


March 25, 2019


Child and Youth Advocate Reports

Child and Youth Protection in Nunavik

The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse raised concerns about the lack of progress on the implementation of recommendations from their 2007 report on child and youth protection services in Nunavik, a follow-up report in 2010, in 2014 and again in 2016. In March 2018, the Commission presented these findings to the “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress“. (The Viens Commission)

“The Commission reiterates the urgency to act in order to create favourable conditions for these communities so they can finally ensure real protection for their rights through the implementation of concrete support measures, in particular by allocating sufficient resources to solve urgent problems related to housing, education, drug addiction and access to health and social services in the field of youth protection.” Philippe-André Tessier, President, The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse


April 19, 2022


Government and Institution Issues

Indigenous Youth Care in Montreal

NationTalk: Exactly six months after it asked the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to launch an inquiry on its own initiative into systemic racism in employment and service delivery at Batshaw Youth and Family Centers, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) still has not received any response.

The silence is treated as the Commission’s failure to live up to its national commitment on Reconciliation and the Viens Commission’s calls to action on access to justice for Indigenous people. Last week, NWSM called on Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière and the Minister responsible for Youth Protection, Lionel Carmant, to intervene.

On October 19, 2021, NWSM in cooperation with CRARR asked that the Commission examine barriers to the equitable representation of Indigenous people in all job categories at Batshaw and the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal, which manages Batshaw. NWSM has been concerned about staffing practices that discriminate against Indigenous people, such as filling designated Indigenous positions with non-Indigenous people, and job requirements that exclude Indigenous candidates.

NWSM also asks that the Commission examine systemic racism in services for Indigenous families at Batshaw, including problems with accurate data collection on Indigenous status resulting in misidentification of Indigenous clients; racial profiling of Indigenous children and mothers, and perpetual lack of culturally adapted services.

In November, NSWM’s request received official support from Quebec Native Women and the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL). In fact, AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard wrote to the Commission Chair Philippe-André Tessier himself in support of the request.

Six months later, the Commission has yet to respond. In the meantime, other incidents involving Batshaw’s treatment of Indigenous children continue to raise concerns.

Despite CRARR’s request for an update on March 17, 2022, the Commission has never replied.


November 19, 2019


Government and Institution Issues

Indigenous Youth Care in Montréal

APTN: Release of “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Child Welfare Services for indigenous clientele living in Montreal” presents a scathing analysis of Indigenous youth care in the Montreal area. Assembled over three years by stakeholders from the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, Concordia University, Rising Sun Daycare, and the Youth Department of the public health network, Centre Integre Universitaire de Sante et de Services Sociaux Ouest de l’ile de Montreal (CIUSSS-ODIM), the goal of the project was to “gain a better understanding of the ways Indigenous children and families are responded to by the child welfare system in Montreal.” Some of the issues identified in the report include:

  • Children from Nunavik were told to stop speaking in Inuktitut
  • all Inuit children were placed with non-Indigenous foster families
  • apprehended children wished to remain in contact with their family but were denied access by social workers or foster families.
  • Children removed from home are not offered any emotional support and siblings are often denied contact or access to each other
  • Foster families lack of knowledge and sensitization has resulted in racist comments and prejudice towards the children’s parents

At the time of the report’s publication, Batshaw “did not employ any Indigenous people.” Of the health network’s estimated 10,000 employees, there are less than 10 Indigenous employees. Even the network’s sole “Indigenous liaison” is non-Indigenous.

The “One Step Forward, Two Steps Back” report identifies 22 Recommendations under the following themes:

  1. Education for Non-Indigenous Staff, Leaders and Decision-Makers (3 aligned with 8 Viens Commission Calls for Action)
  2. Representations (7 aligned with 4 Viens Commission Calls to Action)
  3. Policy Level Changes (12 aligned with 10 Viens Commission Calls to Action)
  4. CIUSSS-ODIM is to deliver an annual progress report with the first report due in Dec 15, 2020

https://www.csdepj.gouv.qc.ca/fileadmin/Fichiers_clients/Documents_deposes_a_la_Commission/P-101_Report_2019_One_step_forward_two_steps_back_Child_Welfare_services.pdf


May 3, 2021


Government and Institution Issues

Laurent Commission Final Report

The Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection (Laurent Commission), released their Final Report. The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) would like to thank the commissioners, …for their openness to including a chapter dedicated to First Nations and Inuit and recommending changes to Quebec legislation based on the needs expressed during the hearings. However, the time has come for our nations to determine the future and wellness of our families and children through child and family services that are designed and administered by our own governments. “For a long time, Canada and Quebec have acted as if they knew better than us for what was good for our people. Clearly, they were wrong. For example, data shows that First Nations children are six times more likely than non-Indigenous children to have their security or their development deemed by the youth protection system to be compromised. Thanks to An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (Bill C-92), we have the opportunity to regain control over our lives, and that’s exactly what we intend to do,” said Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors.

“We welcome the efforts of the Laurent Commission on improving the application of the Quebec Youth Protection Act but our primary focus, as First Nations Chiefs, will be to continue focusing our efforts on supporting First Nations jurisdictions exercising their inherent rights in child and family services, which includes legislative authority in relation to those services and authority to administer and enforce laws made under that legislative authority,” continued Richard O’Bomsawin, Chief of Odanak, political representative of the regional Committee of Experts and member of the Chiefs Committee on Child and Family Services and Self-Determination.

“First Nations have the right to self-determination, including the inherent right to self-government, which includes jurisdiction over child and family services. We reiterate that we will never accept that our rights are subordinated to those of another people, especially when it comes to the wellness of our children, youth and families. We believe that reforming the legislative framework for youth protection in Quebec, in a complementary fashion with and in support of the governance and laws of the First Nations, is a fundamental matter. We are counting on the full cooperation of the Government of Quebec in this regard,” concluded the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard.


February 12, 2020


Government and Institution Issues

Laurent Commission Final Report

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) – presented a joint brief to the Laurent Commission (Special Commission on the Rights of Children and Youth Protection) aimed in particular at reaffirming the rights of First Nations to decide on the future and education of their children. The two organizations made recommendations that affect Act C-92, Bill 31, which aims to authorize the communication of personal information concerning certain missing or deceased Aboriginal children to their families, and the Youth Protection Act (YPA). The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC have reiterated their constitutional right to manage family support and youth protection services, according to Act C-92, and are asking the Government of Quebec to withdraw its dispute and negotiate coordination agreements in good faith with First Nations governments and Canada. With regard to the YPA, they are also calling for:

Indigenous children to be exempted from the application of the maximum periods of foster care and
that the regulation on financial assistance to promote the adoption and tutorship of a child be amended.
More generally, the two organizations recommend that Quebec implement measures that respond appropriately to the calls for justice of the “National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” and the calls to action of the “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec“.


February 11, 2022


Bill C-92

Québec Constitution Challenge to Bill C-92

CBC – The Quebec Court of Appeal issued a decision yesterday finding the law constitutional apart from two key sections that relate to Aboriginal self-government and child and family services that it ruled are unconstitutional. The court took issue with the section of the law that allows Indigenous child welfare laws to supersede provincial laws when they conflict. “It’s quite a devastating decision,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, professor of law at the Peter Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. “The only kind of law that would be allowed under this decision is one that’s clearly subordinate to the provincial law.”

Turpel-Lafond, who was involved in consultations on developing the legislation, called the decision a setback for Indigenous children, families and self-government. She said the work First Nations, Métis and Inuit governments are doing to introduce new laws and policies to reunite families is now in doubt. She said the Quebec court’s decision should be reviewed by Supreme Court of Canada — a process that could take two years. “This is a bit of a slam dunk for the Indian Act,” she said.

“If you happen to be a kid that’s not living in the province that’s particularly friendly to Indigenous peoples having rights, you may not get any rights. That’s not what we want.
https://courdappelduquebec.ca/en/judgments/details/reference-to-the-court-of-appeal-of-quebec-in-relation-with-the-act-respecting-first-nations-inuit/


February 12, 2020


Bill C-92

Québec Constitution Challenge to Bill C-92

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) – presented a joint brief to the Laurent Commission (Special Commission on the Rights of Children and Youth Protection) aimed in particular at reaffirming the rights of First Nations to decide on the future and education of their children. The two organizations made recommendations that affect Act C-92, Bill 31, which aims to authorize the communication of personal information concerning certain missing or deceased Aboriginal children to their families, and the Youth Protection Act (YPA). The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC have reiterated their constitutional right to manage family support and youth protection services, according to Act C-92, and are asking the Government of Quebec to withdraw its dispute and negotiate coordination agreements in good faith with First Nations governments and Canada. With regard to the YPA, they are also calling for:

  • Indigenous children to be exempted from the application of the maximum periods of foster care and
  • that the regulation on financial assistance to promote the adoption and tutorship of a child be amended.
  • More generally, the two organizations recommend that Quebec implement measures that respond appropriately to the calls for justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the calls to action of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec.

December 20, 2019


Bill C-92

Québec Constitution Challenge to Bill C-92

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the Government of Quebec’s decision to request that the Quebec Court of Appeal rule on the constitutionality of Bill C-92, the Indigenous child welfare act, is a setback that will further harm First Nations children and families.

This move could lead to delay and conflict, further harming our children and families. The AFN will look to intervene in this case and we expect the federal government to stand with us in upholding First Nations jurisdiction. We need urgent action to address the discrimination and the legacy of our children taken from their families and Nations. Bill C-92 affirms First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare.


March 17, 2022


Bill C-92

Québec Constitution Challenge to Bill C-92: AFN supports appeal to Supreme Court

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) announced today that it stands with First Nations in Quebec and all First Nations’ jurisdiction over child and family law.

“Taking the Act to the Supreme Court presents an opportunity for the full recognition and affirmation of First Nations Inherent rights, as well as the exercise of this jurisdiction, at the highest judicial levels of Canada,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse, who leads the portfolio on child and family services for the AFN Executive Committee. “The Act is the positive result of decades of advocacy to respect First Nations systems that support the best interests of our families. The decision from the Quebec Court of Appeal affirmed the First Nations Generic Inherent Right in Child and Family Services and to make laws that are protected under section 35 of the Constitution. The province of Quebec’s challenge undermines all of that progress.”


February 10, 2022


Bill C-92

Quebec Court of Appeal rules against two sections of Bill C-92

The Court of Appeal of Québec ruled on Feb. 10, 2022 that Bill C-92 “is constitutional, except for ss. 21 and 22(3), which are not”. These sections deal with the right of Aboriginal self-government and the regulation of Child and Family Services. As Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, professor of law at the Peter Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia says,” “The only kind of law that would be allowed under this decision is one that’s clearly subordinate to the provincial law…It’s a bit of a slam dunk for The Indian Act.”


March 21, 2019


Bill C-92

Yellowhead Institue Critique of Bill C-92

“Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, youth and families” was graded as follows by the Yellowhead Institute of Ryerson University based on analysis by five Indigenous legal scholars. (See also First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Information Brief in C2A # 4)

GRADES:
National Standards: …………………… C
Funding: ……………………………………..F
Accountability: ……………………………D
Jurisdiction: ……………………………….D
Data Collection and Reporting: …..D

Yellowhead Institute Recommendations

National Standards

  • Ensure that standards exist in law so that Indigenous children do not automatically become government wards without significant efforts are made to maintain familial and community care.
  • Require ongoing legal relationships, or at the least, access to children’s family of origin.
    Include strong, mandatory language around BIOC to address judicial bias and overtake any binding precedents in this area.
  • Include “active efforts” or “maximum contact” clauses in relation to Indigenous child welfare with First Nations have not taken over full jurisdiction.
  • A requirement of written documentation of active efforts to find placements according to the priority set out or affidavit evidence from the Indigenous group that there is no available placement.
  • And/or a presumption that an access order with some family or community member and a long-term funding commitment for regular travel back to the community is included as a term of any permanency order.

Funding

  • Attach clear federal funding commitments for First Nations pursuing child welfare jurisdiction.
  • Ensure funding reflects the principle of substantive equality and which also meets the needs and circumstances of children on reserve
  • Ensure off-reserve, Métis, non-status and Inuit children and families are included in budgets, distinct from non-Indigenous children and families.
  • Compel coordination between federal and provincial governments regarding incentives to cooperate and adequately fund Indigenous governing bodies to implement Jordan’s Principle.

Accountability

  • Establish a dispute resolution mechanism to deal with situations where Indigenous groups experience challenges in entering collaboration agreements with Canada and the provinces, in the cases they are required.
  • Create an independent body to hear disputes and make binding decisions on all parties.

Jurisdiction

  • Recognize jurisdiction as a right to self- determination under UNDRIP rather than a s. 35 right.
    Set a clear path out of the existing jurisdictional squabbling between the provincial and federal governments.
  • Revise paramountcy rules so they are clear enough for, and accessible to community members, so that can understand in time sensitive or emergency circumstances.
  • Contain clear conflict of laws principles and processes that give real weight to Indigenous law-making authority and jurisdiction.
  • Address the long-standing issue of services to First Nations children who are residing off-reserve, as well as non-status, Métis and Inuit children.
  • Provide clarity and direction on how the “Best Interests Of the Child” (BIOC) standard will be defined regarding the applicability of laws. At minimum this should clarify a standard for best interests of the Indigenous child— determined by Indigenous legal and community standards—and dictate the application of federal and provincial laws to Indigenous children.
  • Clearly and openly resolve the lack of funding for Indigenous law-making, administration and enforcement as well as funding for the preventative of child and family health.

Data Collecting and Reporting

  • Mandate collection and publication of data along the lines of TRC Call to Action #2
  • Address privacy issues by anonymized and displaying data in aggregate.