Years ago, human rights advocates briefly expected Jordan’s Principle would end discriminatory practices and allow First Nations children to access government services on the same terms as other children.
Parliament unanimously supported the proposition in 2007, but Conservatives chose not to implement the policy. Stephen Harper’s Government substituted inequitable programs with rules so narrow the stated purposes were nullified. Instead of being qualified for support, Indigenous children were denied basic services, even in life-threatening situations.
Under Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, federal actions improved but Jordan’s Principle has been only partly applied. Now, the Parliamentary Budget Officer is reporting on the cost of compensation due families denied services by government evasions of responsibility.
In September 2019, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ordered Canada to pay compensation to certain First Nations children. That decision included compensation for children who remained in their home but were “denied services or received services after an unreasonable delay…“
The approved compensation framework also explicitly provides for broader compensation for children taken into care. Specifically, it compensates all children taken into care instead of children unnecessarily removed from their home, family, and community. This would result in an estimated $6.5 billion in compensation being paid in relation to children taken into care.
The total cost of complying with the order based on the interpretation of that order set out in the compensation framework and process leading to that framework is estimated to be $15 billion after accounting for overlap.
Unfortunately, politicians and senior bureaucrats have grown used to paying massive sums to compensate for callous acts and derelictions of duty. Moral behaviour and financial prudence would have them doing the right things in the first place.