House passes motion calling on Ottawa to pay First Nations child welfare compensation ordered by tribunal

Indigenous services minister says government has no plans to drop court challenge of compensation order

NDP MP Charlie Angus asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The House of Commons passed a non-binding NDP motion Wednesday calling on the federal government to pay compensation to children and families affected by the on-reserve child welfare system, as ordered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in September.

The federal government is seeking a judicial review before the Federal Court aimed at quashing the human rights tribunal compensation order.

“All parties have called on them to comply with the ruling,” said NDP MP Charlie Angus, who tabled the motion.

“You can’t comply with the ruling if you are trying to quash the ruling.”

The tribunal told Ottawa to pay $40,000 each to First Nations children — along with some of their parents and grandparents — who were apprehended from their families and communities through the on-reserve child welfare system and in Yukon.

If the federal government proceeds with the judicial review, Angus said, it will be in defiance of Parliament — which could trigger committee hearings that would see Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and his officials hauled before MPs to answer questions.

“This is going to be a lose-lose for them if they think they can defy Parliament on this,” said Angus.

The compensation order also included children who were denied health services, or who had to leave their communities to obtain those services.

The motion called on the federal government to “fully comply with all orders made by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal as well as ensuring children and their families don’t have to testify their trauma in court.”

The motion also called for “a legislated funding plan for future years that will end the systemic shortfalls in First Nations child welfare.”

No plans to drop challenge

Miller said that while the government has no plans to drop the court challenge, it is still committed to finding a way to compensate First Nations children affected by the on-reserve child welfare system. MORE

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