Minister of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) Patty Hajdu says she is disappointed that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is dissatisfied with a $20 billion child welfare compensation agreement between the government and the Assembly of First Nations.
“Our lawyers have questions around the (CHRT) summary decision that overturns an agreement that is historic, that was negotiated with Indigenous people,” Hajdu told Nation to Nation. “The compensation agreement that was in the final settlement was designed by First Nations people.”
The agreement was reached by the Trudeau government, the Assembly of First Nations and a number of class action lawsuit litigants earlier this year.
It is meant to compensate First Nations children and their families who were discriminated against by a chronically underfunded on-reserve child welfare system going back as far as 1991.
However, the CHRT issued a summary ruling on Oct. 25 that says the agreement does not meet the terms of its 2019 compensation ruling.
The human rights tribunal contends what has been negotiated still doesn’t meet its requirement that every First Nations child and family affected by the shortfall be compensated a minimum amount of $40,000.
The CHRT’s ruling only goes back as far as 2006.
On Wednesday, the federal government requested a judicial review of the CHRT’s latest findings.
The ISC minister said she is willing to continue to talk to affected parties but for the time being the government does not appear to be willing to go beyond the $20 billion already promised.
“Well at this point, we are confident that the $20 billion will suffice but I am always interested in hearing ways to get to an agreement that doesn’t involve litigation,” Hajdu said. “Reconciliation is about trying to find a path forward together.”
Subhead: Saying No to a mine extension in Nunavut
Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal says there were a number of environmental factors that led to the government’s decision to nix a proposed expansion of a mine in Nunavut.
“The phase two expansion had a high potential of creating adverse effects on marine mammals, fish, on the terrain around it, the flora, the fauna and it would have a significant negative impact on Inuit harvesting,” Vandal told Nation to Nation.
Baffinland had been proposing a major expansion of its Mary River mine on Baffin Island.
The expansion would have seen the mine double its annual ore output to 12 million tonnes.
The plans also included the construction of a 110-kilometre railway to the Milne Inlet port.
Vandal said the government leaned heavily on the findings of the Nunavut Impact Review Board.
He added the government is open to revisiting the decision as long as certain environmental and land use concerns are met.
And lastly, an health official at ISC said the department is in a good position to address concerns over pediatric drug shortages in northern remote communities.
“We look at our inventory on a regular basis and we are in a good position relative to these medications in these remote and isolated communities,” deputy chief nursing officer Leila Gillis said. “But we are working very closely with our on-site nurses and our pharmacists in the regions to make sure we monitor the inventory, keep track of any pending shortages.”
Pharmacies across Canada have been hit with major shortages of children’s medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen in recent weeks.
Gillis also said northern health facilities have not been overrun with patients seeking care for respiratory illnesses as has been the case in larger urban centres.