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Feds propose $1.4 billion in new spending to help redress inequities harming Indigenous people

Thursday, June 04, 2020 @ 4:44 PM | By Cristin Schmitz

The federal government is asking Parliament to approve $1.4 billion in new spending on legal settlements and other litigation-related matters involving Indigenous people harmed by the Sixties Scoop, Indian day schools and decades of discriminatory funding and unequal access to child welfare, educational, health and other services.

On June 2, the minority Trudeau government tabled the first of three sets of supplementary estimates (“A”) that are planned for 2020-21, seeking approval for some $6 billion in new spending that was not accounted for in the federal main estimates, or in two previously approved emergency spending bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supplementary Estimates (A) 2020-21 will be up for debate and voting June 17.

Among the proposed items, the government seeks to spend:
  • $481.2 million for the federal “Indian Day Schools” (McLean) Settlement Agreement, which includes compensation for persons who attended a federally established, funded, controlled and operated Indian Day School from Jan. 1, 1920, until the school’s closure or transfer from Canada’s control. The government said the funding will also be used for legal and administrative fees, as well as healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration projects.
  • $468.2 million for child and family services on First Nations reserves. In 2016 the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered Ottawa to stop its discriminatory practices, with some children on reserves receiving up to 38 per cent less funding than children off-reserve.
  • $260 million for the 2017 Sixties Scoop settlement which provides compensation to status Indian and Inuit persons who were adopted by non-Indigenous families, became Crown wards, or who were placed in permanent care settings between Jan. 1, 1951, and Dec. 31, 1991. In total, the agreement provides $500 million to $750 million in compensation to survivors; $50 million to the Sixties Scoop Legacy Foundation; $75 million for legal fees to plaintiffs’ counsel and funding for the administrative costs to implement the agreement. Funding in the estimates is to support the continued implementation of the agreement.
  • $232 million in funding for health, social and education services and support for First Nations children under Jordan’s Principle which mandates that First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them — and are not compelled to wait while different levels of government fight over who is responsible.