Government of Canada supports changes to Jordan's Principle eligibility to help more First Nations children access the supports they need
December 22, 2020 — Ottawa, Traditional Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada
Every child deserves access to services like health care and supports at school. Closing the gaps in health, social services and education for First Nations children and families are top priorities for the Government of Canada. Since July 2016, Canada has approved over 750,000 products, services and support for First Nations children under Jordan's Principle. We remain committed to working with communities to ensure that First Nations children can access the products, services and supports they need, when and where they need them.
To this end, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, announced today that Canada will expand eligibility under Jordan's Principle to children who are recognized as members by their nation regardless of where they live in Canada on an ongoing basis. This work is being undertaken as a direct response to the July and November 2020, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) orders regarding Jordan's Principle eligibility, which Canada has been fully implementing since November 25, 2020.
However, the Government of Canada has filed a notice of application for judicial review of the Tribunal's decision. The Tribunal's decision was made without broad participation of First Nations communities and is a clear overreach of the Tribunal's jurisdiction. The legal issues around the scope of the Tribunal's authority to issue these decisions are important ones on which we seek further guidance from the Federal Court.
Deciding who belongs to a First Nation community is complex and Canada will work with First Nations in making those decisions and implementing the community acceptance aspect of this order. The expanded eligibility for Jordan's Principle for children recognized by their nations will remain in effect regardless of the outcome of the judicial review.
For children who are not eligible to be registered but have one parent/guardian that is eligible to be registered, Canada continues to engage with First Nations partners with regard to the second-generation cut-off under the Indian Act and eligibility for a range of programs and services offered by the Government of Canada.
Parents and guardians should continue to submit requests to Jordan's Principle to obtain products, services and supports to address the unmet health, social and educational needs of First Nations children, under any of the four eligibility criteria in the November 25, 2020, order. The Government of Canada will continue to meet all its obligations and ensure that First Nations children receive the care and services they need.
While we continue to provide support to First Nations children through Jordan's Principle, we will continue to work with First Nations partners, and provinces and territories to develop longer-term measures to help better address the unique health, social, and education needs of First Nations children.
"For far too long, First Nations children have not had the same opportunities to thrive as other children in our country. The tireless work of First Nations advocates, and the honoured memory of Jordan River Anderson, tells us that we must do better. That is why we are taking these steps to make meaningful changes to Jordan's Principle to help more First Nations children access the supports they need."
The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Jordan's Principle is named in memory of Jordan River Anderson. He was a young boy from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. To learn more about Jordan, please visit: https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1583703111205/1583703134432
In 2007, the House of Commons passed Jordan's Principle in memory of Jordan. It was a commitment that First Nations children would get the products, services and supports they need, when they need them.
Jordan's Principle is not a program but a legal obligation that Canada is committed to fully implement.
Jordan's Principle ensures First Nations children can access the products, services and supports they need, when they need them. Funding can help with a wide range of health, social and educational needs, including the unique needs that First Nations Two-Spirit and LGBTQQIA children and youth and those with disabilities may have.
Speech therapy, medical equipment, educational supports, mental health supports are examples of Jordan's Principle's products, services and supports.
Following the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision from November 25, 2020, a child under the age of majority in their province or territory of residence can access Jordan's Principle, if they permanently reside in Canada and if the child meets one of the following criteria:
- is registered or eligible to be registered under the Indian Act
- has one parent or guardian who is registered or eligible to be registered under the Indian Act
- is recognized by their nation for the purposes of Jordan's Principle
- is ordinarily resident on reserve
This change will permanently extend Jordan's Principle eligibility to children who are recognized by a First Nations group, community or people as belonging to that group, community or people as members.
Since 2016, the Government has committed nearly $2 billion to Jordan's Principle to help with health, social and education services that are needed.
From July 2016 to October 31, 2020, more than 750,000 products, services and supports were approved for First Nations children under Jordan's Principle. These include speech therapy, educational supports, medical equipment, and mental health services.
For more information about Jordan's Principle please visit www.canada.ca/jordans-principle, or call 1-855-JP-CHILD (1-855-572-4453), available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Requests for Inuit children can be made through the Inuit Child First Initiative.
On December 3, 2020, the Government of Canada introduced Bill C-15, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. If passed, this bill would create a process for the Government of Canada, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to identify ways to better respect and promote the human rights of Indigenous peoples. An action plan would be developed and include measures to address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination, including systemic discrimination.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
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