A woman and child walk down a street in the northern Ontario First Nations reserve in Attawapiskat, Ont., on Monday, April 16, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Jordan’s Principle compensation may cost Canada $15 billion

Government must compensate First Nations children and families who had been denied service

The parliamentary budget office says it could cost the federal government up to $15 billion to compensate First Nations families and children impacted by the child welfare system, as well as denials or delays of essential services.

The figure updates the budget office’s initial estimate to include thousands more children, parents and grandparents who would qualify for the $40,000 payments under recent developments in the case.

Jordan’s Principle requires governments to cover the cost of services for First Nations children, and work out any disputes over jurisdiction afterwards.

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has ordered the government to compensate children and families who had been denied service, or faced delays.

RELATED: Feds’ challenge of ruling on First Nations children ‘a slap in the face’: AFN

RELATED: Indigenous children still being treated unequally by provinces: advocate

The updated report adds roughly 100,000 more First Nations children, along with their parents and grandparents, whose compensation would alone be about $10 billion.

The new estimate of about $15 billion includes the 13,000 children originally expected to be eligible for compensation, mostly related to delayed approval of claims, as well as those taken into care unnecessarily, and their families.

The tribunal ordered the government in September 2019 to pay $40,000 to every First Nations child who since 2006 was inappropriately removed from their home, and pay the same amount to their parents or caregiver.

The same amount, which is the maximum the tribunal can award, was also ordered for children who faced denials or delays of basic services like medical care.

At the time, the Assembly of First Nations estimated that 54,000 children and their parents could receive compensation, for a bill of at least $2 billion.

Budget officer Yves Giroux’s report pegs those figures far higher, but warns of estimates are uncertain because of data limitations.

In November, a tribunal ruling expanded the scope of its order to allow First Nations to decide whether a particular child is entitled to federally funded services, not just the federal government under the Indian Act.

Ottawa announced before Christmas it would seek a judicial review of the decision.

The recent developments flow back to a 2016 ruling from the tribunal that found the federal government at fault for not providing funding on-reserve for child welfare services equal to provincial payments for those living in urban and rural settings.

The government subsequently broadened its definition of Jordan’s Principle, named for Jordan River Anderson, a boy Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. He spent five years of life in hospital while the Manitoba and federal government argued over which level of government needed to pay for his care in a special home.

The PBO report notes that more than 594,000 claims under Jordan’s Principle were approved between July 2016 and April 2020.

Crunching the numbers, the budget office said that amounts to one claim per person for each of the approximately 375,000 First Nations children living on- and off-reserve, as well as those who became adults over that almost four-year period.

Just Posted

Emissions from the City of Abbotsford's vehicles make up the largest share of the municipality's emissions.
File photo
Vancouver Island councillor leads campaign to reduce building-sector GHG emissions

Courtenay’s Will Cole-Hamilton pushing for building emission legislation

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Thousands protested in Victoria following the death of George Floyd in the U.S. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. not exempt: New report documents 150 years of racism and the fight against it

Booklet marks province’s 150th anniversary with call for transparency, change

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

A mobile home fire prompted a quick response from firefighters Saturday around 3:30 p.m. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Mobile home up in flames at Duncan RV Park

One patient burned, EHS on scene

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Works crews have begun to install roads and other infrastructure to service the Nigel Valley redevelopment project that will bring nearly 800 new housing units to Saanich over the next several years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Prep work begins on massive Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Construction of first two developments expected to begin fall 2021, B.C. Housing says

Gregory Ould, co-founder and executive director of Blanket BC, drops off warming blankets to Our Home on Eighth shelter in Port Alberni during a tour of Vancouver Island on Feb. 19, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Blanket BC delivers warmth, hope to Vancouver Island’s homeless

Gregory Ould donated blankets, toques in five communities

Duncan Christian’s Grace George lines up a shot during the three-point portion of the BC School Sports Pandemic Basketball Challenge after taking a pass from Cam Stevens. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian leads the way in pandemic basketball challenge

School tops participation numbers for second time this year

The shadow cast of the Satyr Players production of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’: Linda Dohmeier as Dr. Scott, Olivia Erickson as Columbia, Brandon Caul as Rocky, Christopher Carter as Brad, Charlie Prince as Eddie, Branden Martell as Riff Raff, Jenna Morgan as Magenta, Megan Rhode as Janet and Adrien Kennedy as Dr. Frank-N-Furter (clockwise from left). (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)
VIU student actors go online for 25th-annual ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Satyr Players theatre company to broadcast pre-recorded shadow production

Most Read