On Monday, May 13, 2019, The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples submitted its report on Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. Bill C-92 seeks to recognize and affirm Indigenous jurisdiction over child and family services. The Committee provided the federal government a lengthy list of recommendations to strengthen Bill C-92 as follows:
Add language to the substantive equality principle to ensure that funding for Indigenous Child and Family Services will demonstrate substantive equality, to ensure equal access to services and benefits in a manner and according to standards that meet any unique needs and circumstances, such as cultural, social, economic and historical disadvantage.
Include an explicit reference to Jordan’s Principle in the preamble of the bill.
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Include a reference to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the body of the bill, not just in the preamble.
“CARE PROVIDER” AND STANDING
Amend so that only caregivers that have a family, kinship or community relationship with the child can make representations in a civil proceeding.
INHERENT RIGHT OF SELF-GOVERNMENT
Add “inherent” to clause 8(a) in front of “right of self-government”
PRINCIPLES AND BEST INTERESTS OF AN INDIGENOUS CHILD
revise the bill to ensure that considerations relating to an Indigenous child’s connection to family, culture and community and the child’s physical, emotional and psychological safety, security and well-being are given equal weight;
add an “impermissible reasoning” clause;
add an “active efforts” principle;
take steps to ensure that cultural continuity reflects Indigenous cultures; and
add provisions that reflect the need for children in care to be supported beyond the age of majority as appropriate, and as determined by the Indigenous group or community.
the Government of Canada, in collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and provinces and territories, must explore ways to facilitate effective dispute resolution, including the possibility of establishing an independent alternative dispute resolution body.
RECOGNIZING EXISTING INITIATIVES/AGREEMENTS
add after clause 5 of the bill a provision that clarifies that nothing in the bill contravenes existing agreements such as the MOU between the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the federal government;
Include shorter timeframes for coordinating agreements for Indigenous groups that already have initiatives underway in relation to child and family services.
review the provisions in Bill C-92 to ensure they can facilitate disaggregating data and that they protect the privacy of Indigenous children;
support the work of Indigenous organizations that collect data; and
The Government of Canada, in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, should establish the position of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Chief Statistician.
Include a provision that would provide for an initial review of the bill after three years, as well as annual reports on the bill’s implementation.
DUTY TO CONSULT
We urge the federal government to review its policies and practices relating to policy development and development of legislation that affects Indigenous Peoples in Canada to ensure that this repeated concern is addressed.
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Last modified: May 14, 2019