Federal Government commits to six points of action in working with Indigenous partners to address number of Indigenous children in care

News Release

January 26, 2018 - Ontario, ON - Government of Canada

The severe over-representation of Indigenous children in child welfare systems has reached crisis proportions. First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation children make up more than 50% of children in foster care.  Full reform is needed with a single objective in mind: to keep First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation children safe, healthy and thriving within their families, communities and culture.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Federal Minister of Indigenous Services, convened a two-day emergency meeting in Ottawa to bring all partners together in order to address this crisis head on. Leaders from the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis National Council, regional Indigenous leadership, as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments gathered to discuss the causes that lead to the high rate of children in care and work together towards reform. Among issues discussed were: data collection, youth perspectives, community wellbeing, innovative jurisdictional approaches, and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation Child and Family Service programs.

Youth delegates, who had been in the foster care system, were also present to share their lived experiences and contribute to recommendations on the way forward.

The federal government has committed to six points of action:

  • Continuing the work to fully implement all orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, and reforming child and family services including moving to a flexible funding model;
  • Shifting the programming focus to prevention and early intervention;
  • Supporting communities to draw down jurisdiction and explore the potential for co-developed federal child welfare legislation;
  • Accelerating the work of trilateral and technical tables that are in place across the country;
  • Supporting Inuit and Métis Nation leadership to advance culturally-appropriate reform; and
  • Developing a data and reporting strategy with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners.

The federal government recognizes the critical importance of reform being led by Indigenous leaders and communities in alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

Together, we must ensure concrete actions and steps are taken to keep children with their families, communities and culture and build on the commitments made to date. 


“Full reform of the child welfare system is needed. To achieve this, all partners – federal, provincial and territorial, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation – must work together, and put children and families first. The focus must shift to prevention and family reconciliation, and away from apprehension. This meeting served to acknowledge the severity of the crisis and helped determine how everyone must be part of the solution.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services

“Youth in care, youth aging out of care and the grandmothers have been very clear - the current system is not working for Indigenous children. First Nations, Inuit and Métis children have the right to grow up proud of their history, language and culture. Outcomes will only improve when communities regain control over the decisions affecting their children and families. Communities want to focus on healing, caring for their children, and bringing their children home.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

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Andrew MacKendrick
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott

Sabrina Williams
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett

Media Relations
Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

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