April 6, 2022
• The Assembly of First Nations is leading advocacy efforts for reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program and the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle through the ongoing negotiations towards a Final Settlement Agreement on long-term reform.
• Several immediate measures that bring much needed changes to the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle took effect on April 1, 2022. These measures address significant and urgent funding gaps in service and equality for First Nations children, families and communities.
• In addition to immediate program changes, Indigenous Services Canada will fund research that rigorously tests a First Nations-led funding framework with First Nations research partners that responds to child, family and community wellbeing priorities.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), along with other First Nations advocates and leaders, have fought for decades for Canada to end discrimination in the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program and its narrow application of Jordan’s Principle. A landmark 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling, in response to a complaint launched by the AFN and its partners, found that Canada discriminates against First Nations children and families and ordered Canada to end its discrimination by reforming the FNCFS program and fully implementing Jordan’s Principle.
On December 31, 2021, the AFN, other Parties to the CHRT, and the Government of Canada signed an historic Agreement-in-Principle (AIP). This AIP provides a roadmap for negotiations towards a final settlement agreement to be finalized later this year and earmarks $19.8 billion for the reform of the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle.
While the important work toward long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and proper implementation of Jordan’s Principle continues at the negotiation table, the AFN has also advocated for critical, immediate reforms implemented on April 1, 2022.
Beginning April 1, 2022, First Nations young adults reaching the age of majority while in care and those who aged out of care will be eligible to continue to access services until their 26th birthday. These services range from mental health supports to financial literacy, to nutrition and cooking classes. Funding for these services is designed to meet the individual needs of First Nations young adults and will be reimbursed at actual costs to First Nations and FNCFS providers.
Additionally, the Government of Canada has committed to assessing the resources required to support families and for young adults to navigate and access services for high-needs Jordan’s Principle recipients beyond the age of majority. This is to support youth who are transitioning into adulthood.
Also effective April 1, 2022 is enhanced funding for prevention activities and services to First Nations and delegated agencies based on a rate of $2,500 per person on-reserve. This new funding amount was determined through First Nations-led research as the total figure needed to provide prevention services and activities in a First Nation. This means that prevention funding will cover necessary programs for every individual living in First Nations communities, not just children and families identified as at-risk or already involved with FNCFS.
The Government of Canada will also fund ongoing research into a First Nations-led funding framework for FNCFS that emphasizes wholistic wellbeing. The funding framework is designed to support First Nations control over community wellness priorities. The results of this research will support First Nations in using their own data in order to make meaningful funding decisions. The Government of Canada will also fund research, data and needs assessments for First Nations not served by a FNCFS Agency, as well as Jordan’s Principle.
On March 24, 2022, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued an order on consent of the Parties that outlines and affirms these immediate measures (2022 CHRT 8).
The AFN will be supporting engagement sessions on long-term reform at national and regional levels throughout 2022. These engagement sessions will provide First Nations with the opportunity to hear about long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and implementation of Jordan’s Principle and provide a venue to have their ideas, feedback and experiences heard.
The AFN will continue to advocate for a final settlement that reflects First Nations’ priorities and is based on First Nations-led research that addresses systemic discrimination, and supports First Nations children, families and communities to thrive.
Please visit www.fnchildcompensation.ca for additional information and to sign up for updates.