Federal government sets up Jordan’s Principle call centre

The centre will provide families with direct access to agents who will start the intake process.

OTTAWA – Indigenous Services Canada has set up a new call centre to help First Nations children get services and supports under the child-first jurisdictional policy known as Jordan’s Principle.

The centre will provide families with direct access to agents who will start the intake process and connect them to the Jordan’s Principle representative in their area.

The regional representatives work closely with local service co-ordinators across Canada to identify and address the needs of First Nations children and improve their health and well-being.

Jordan’s Principle is a child-first policy aimed at overcoming jurisdictional red tape that could delay or prevent Indigenous children from getting the services they need.

It is named after Jordan River Anderson, a five-year-old boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba who died in hospital in 2005 while the federal and provincial governments bickered over who would pay for his home care.

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says the establishment of the call centre will offer families quick access to needed services.

“Our government has made significant strides in fully implementing Jordan’s Principle and this announcement today is another example of the work being done to achieve full equality for all First Nations children,” she said in a statement.

The principle has been making headlines in recent months as Indigenous advocates pilloried the federal Liberal government for failing to take action despite repeated rulings by the quasi-judicial Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

Last November, the government withdrew a Federal Court challenge over the delivery of health-care services after reaching an agreement with the parties, which included the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations.

In Friday’s announcement, the government described Jordan’s Principle as ensuring equity for First Nations children by responding to their needs wherever they live.

It essentially says that when a government service is available to all other children, but a jurisdictional dispute regarding services to a First Nations child arises, the department of first contact pays for the service and can later seek reimbursement.

The department says more than 33,000 requests for support and services have been approved under Jordan’s Principle since July 2016, with an approval rate of more than 99 per cent.

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