OTTAWA – An outspoken child advocate is taking the federal government to task over its approach to a policy designed to ensure all First Nations children access necessary services, noting the issue will be the subject of public hearings this spring.
Cindy Blackstock says federal documents from a year ago highlight how the government explored different ways of applying Jordan’s Principle — a policy named after a five-year-old boy who died in hospital in 2005 after a battle between the federal and Manitoba governments over his home-care costs.
Blackstock says the government still has not adequately responded to legal orders put forward by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which that demanded immediate steps be taken to end a narrow definition of the principle.
The Liberal government insists it is responding to the ruling, pointing to a July announcement of $382 million over three years for Jordan’s Principle.
An assistant deputy minister of Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit health branch says the department is actively working to ensure resources are in place to reach families and identify all cases.
Ontario NDP MP Charlie Angus says First Nations children are still denied services, adding that the complainants in the case —Blackstock’s organization and the Assembly of First Nations — would not have to continue to fight if the government was in fact adhering to the tribunal’s findings.