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Child Welfare (1-5)

Manitoba to pay $530-million in settlement over children’s allowance

March 25, 2024

The Globe and Mail: The Canadian Press – The Manitoba government has agreed to pay $530 million to settle class-action lawsuits over child welfare benefit payments.

The proposed settlement, which still requires court approval, follows a 2022 court ruling that found the province was wrong to claw back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal benefit payments to children in care.

Lawyers for the lead plaintiffs say the settlement is a significant step forward in rectifying discrimination endured by vulnerable children. About 90 per cent of children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous.

“There can be no question that this is an historic moment and a clear victory for our kids,” David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Métis Federation, said in a written statement Monday.

Similar lawsuits have been filed in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Manitoba’s former NDP government started to claw back the federal benefit, called the Children’s Special Allowance, in 2006. The money goes to agencies that care for children and mirrors the Canada Child Benefit.

The province had argued it was right to keep the federal money since it was paying for children in care.

The Progressive Conservative government ended the clawback in 2019 but also tried to prevent any legal action in a move that was struck down by the courts. The Tories started discussions toward a settlement before losing the provincial election in October to the New Democrats.

“This money was supposed to be used for the advancement for some of the most vulnerable children in our society, and it was taken from them. This settlement is an example of how our government is prioritizing reconciliation through action,” Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine said in a release.