Rights Panel Can Hear Discrimination Case

Article excerpt

OTTAWA -- A human rights complaint over federal funding of child welfare for aboriginals can continue after the Federal Court of Appeal denied Ottawa's request to quash the case Monday.

"Justice is coming for children," tweeted Cindy Blackstock, head of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, which brought the original complaint six years ago.

The society argued aboriginal children living on reserves were being discriminated against by Ottawa's chronic underfunding of child-welfare programs on reserves. Numerous studies showed Ottawa spent as much as 22 per cent less on child welfare for on-reserve children than the provinces did for children living off reserve.

The chronic underfunding left on-reserve kids with less access to services and programs that could help their families and meant they were more likely to end up in care than off-reserve kids. Former auditor general Sheila Fraser found aboriginal children are eight times more likely to be in care than non-aboriginal children. About 80 per cent of the children in care in Manitoba are aboriginal and at least one-third live on reserves. …