Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 1: Child Welfare (1-5)

Federal court approves distribution plan for child welfare compensation

June 20, 2024
distribution

APTN News: The Assembly of First Nations says it welcomes the decision by the Federal Court to approve the distribution plan for families to receive compensation under the $23 billion deal that will compensate families involved in the First Nations child welfare service and Jordan’s Principle.

The money will go to children who were removed from their families on reserve across the provinces and Yukon by child welfare agencies. Parents and caregivers will also receive compensation.

“This is an important step forward for First Nations children and families,” said Cindy Woodhouse Nepinal, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). “The approval of the Distribution Protocol is one of the final legal steps required before compensation can begin reaching eligible First Nations children and families.”

In 2023, the federal government, AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society approved a $23 billion compensation deal that settled two class action lawsuits against Canada. Another $20 billion was also part of the deal that is going towards fixing the system.

The deal was tied to a decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal that ruled in 2016 that Canada discriminated against First Nations children living on reserve by underfunding the child welfare programs that were supposed to help them.

The CHRT said that because the discrimination was “wilful and reckless” it award each child and caregivers the maximum under the human rights law which was $40,000.

According to the release from the AFN, the approval today in Federal Court outlines how people can apply for compensation.

“The approval of the Distribution Protocol now allows for compensation to start rolling out in approximately six months,” plaintiff Melissa Walterson said in the AFN statement released Thursday. “Looking ahead, I eagerly anticipate the forthcoming disbursement of payments, providing much-needed relief to all individuals impacted by the child welfare system.”

According to the Final Settlement Agreement, a five person committee made up of two First Nations members and three lawyers. Each person will serve no more than two years.

“Canada will pay a total of $750,000, separate and in addition to any other amounts in this Agreement to be paid at the direction of the AFN Executive Committee to fund an honorarium of $200 per hour to each of the Non-Counsel SIC Members for reasonable participation in the work of the Settlement Implementation Committee, up to a maximum of $1000 per day, subject to the Court’s approval,” according to the agreement.

According to the release, application forms should be available before the end of 2024.

Apologyhttps://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.aptnnews.ca%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2024%2F06%2F04-2023-Compensation-Final-Settlement-Agreement-April-17-with-schedules..pdf&hl=en_US&embedded=true

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The AFN is also sharing a letter Woodhouse Nepinak received from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the letter, Trudeau said that “the Government of Canada is committed to delivering a public apology for the discriminatory conduct underlying class members’ claims relating to First Nations child and family services and the past and ongoing harm it caused,” said Trudeau in the letter dated June 17.

The apology is part of the compensation deal approved in 2023 between the AFN and federal government.

Trudeau added that Patty Hajdu, minister of Indigenous Services and Arif Virani, justice minister, have been tasked with leading an “engagement on a public apology.”

No date for an apology was mentioned in the letter.

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APTN National News, news@aptn.ca