The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is ordering the federal government to immediately enact a policy that would provide services to aboriginal children to ensure their health and welfare doesn't get caught up in red tape.
The tribunal also calls on the federal Department of Indigenous Affairs to report back within two weeks to confirm the policy – known as Jordan's Principle – has been implemented.
The policy is named after Jordan River Anderson, a five-year-old boy with complex needs who died in hospital in 2005 after a protracted two-year battle between the federal and Manitoba governments over his home care costs.
Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Family and Caring Society, spent nine years fighting the federal government on child welfare services before a landmark tribunal ruling earlier this year.
She says she was deeply disappointed by funding earmarked for child welfare in the federal budget – $71-million in the first year – but is overjoyed to see the tribunal put the interests of First Nations children first.
She says the decision means the government will have to spend more money in order to provide a level of services to First Nations children comparable to those offered by the provincial system.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett did not immediately respond to the tribunal's findings Tuesday.