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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. (tofinohiking.com photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino’s mayoralty candidates lay out key differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Most Read