The Government of Canada announces the coming into force of an Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

News release

Co-developed with Indigenous partners, the Act affirms Indigenous peoples' right to jurisdiction over child and family services.

September 10, 2019 — Ottawa, Ontario, Unceded Traditional Algonquin Territory — Indigenous Services Canada

Reducing the number of Indigenous children in care continues to be one of the Government of Canada's most important priorities.

Today, the Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services announced that the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families will come into force in its entirety on January 1, 2020. This legislation was co-developed with Indigenous partners with the goal of keeping Indigenous children and youth connected to their families, communities, and culture.
 
The coming into force of the Act affirms the inherent right of First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities to move forward with legislation to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services at a pace that they choose.

The Act puts in place national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality to help guide the provision of Indigenous child and family services across all jurisdictions. Most importantly, the Act provides an opportunity for Indigenous peoples to choose their own solutions for their children and families and emphasizes the need for the system to shift from apprehension to prevention.

The coming into force of the Act represents an important step toward real change. This Act will help secure a better, brighter future for First Nation, Inuit and Métis children and youth in this country, and lay the right foundation for future generations.

Quotes

"The coming into force of this Act is the fulfillment of a promise that we will do better for the Indigenous children in this country. It is a promise to Indigenous families and communities that we are determined to make things right. Bill C-92 will put into law what Indigenous peoples across this country have been asking of governments for decades: that their inherent jurisdiction be affirmed.  We are dedicated to positive change, and the coming into force of this bill will help achieve that."

The Honourable Seamus O'Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services

"This is a critical step forward for First Nations and their families.  I am very pleased we now know when this important legislation will come into force and form part of Canadian law. This legislation affirms First Nations jurisdiction, which is crucial to First Nations building their own systems based on their own governance, laws and policies. We must now focus on prevention over apprehension, and keeping children close to their cultures and families. We need everyone to support this approach, and we need proper investments to make it a reality. With more than 40 000 indigenous children in care, the time is long overdue for First Nations to finally regain responsibility over our children."

Perry Bellegarde
National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

"Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami welcomes news that Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, will come into force on January 1, 2020. Inuit are committed to working on a distinctions basis toward the implementation of the legislation with the goal of achieving tangible change in the lives of Inuit children and families."

Natan Obed
President, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami

"The Act marks a real turn in the approach to protecting our Métis Nation children, youth and families. Enabling our governments to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services is a critically important first step in this direction."

Clément Chartier
President, Métis National Council

Quick facts

  • The Act is the result of extensive engagement with First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations, as well as Treaty Nations, self-governing First Nations, Provinces and Territories, experts and those with lived experience, including Elders, youth and women.

  • This historic Bill affirms the jurisdiction of all Indigenous Peoples with regards to child and family services.

  • According to Census 2016, Indigenous children represent 52.2% of children in foster care in private homes in Canada, despite accounting for only 7.7% of the overall population of children under 15.

  • The first five Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada relate to child welfare, including Call to Action #4 which calls "upon the federal government to enact Aboriginal child-welfare legislation".

  • Budget 2016 included new funding of $634.8 million over five years, and Budget 2018 included new funding of $1.4 billion over six years in the First Nations Child and Family Services Program to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Indigenous children.

  • In 2018-2019, the total First Nations Child and Family Services Program funding under Indigenous Services Canada was more than $1.1 billion.

Associated links

Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Kevin Deagle
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Seamus O'Regan,
Minister of Indigenous Services
873-354-0987

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada
819-953-1160
SAC.media.ISC@canada.ca

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