OTTAWA, ON – January 26, 2016 - The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) applauds the decision to acknowledge the federal government’s egregious discrimination of First Nations children by underfunding child welfare on reserves. Today’s Human Rights Tribunal ruling in favor of the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society is a major victory in the fight against inequity in Canada.
The case, filed in 2007, was brought on behalf of over 160,000 children after the federal government failed to implement reforms recommended in two separate reports. The federal government provided fewer funds for child welfare services on reserve than anywhere else in Canada, putting tens of thousands of First Nations children at risk. Indeed, documentation proved that child welfare on reserves is underfunded by almost 40 per cent when compared to the other provinces and territories.
“Arguably, these communities should be receiving more services to account for the years of discrimination and institutional racism on behalf of the Canadian government,” noted CASW President Morel Caissie. “This decision does represent a step in the right direction in righting Canada’s relationship with its indigenous people, but there is still a long road ahead.”
Beyond addressing this ruling’s specific concerns by implementing new funding models and providing culturally appropriate services, CASW hopes that this decision will more broadly mark a new era in Canada. CASW urges the federal government to act immediately on all 94 Calls to Action advanced in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) final report.
“The government has finally listened to the impacted communities and acknowledged the harm of underfunding First Nations children. It is no accident that nearly 50 per cent of children in care are indigenous, even though indigenous people represent less than 5% of the population – this is the clear outcome of this discrimination. It’s time the federal government stop turning a blind eye and use this decision as a catalyst for true reconciliation” concluded Caissie.
CASW, Executive Director