Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Aboriginal Children Suffer as Governments Shuffle Files: Report

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Aboriginal Children Suffer as Governments Shuffle Files: Report

Article excerpt

Kids suffer as governments shuffle files: report

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A study suggests aboriginal children often get poorer health care than other kids while governments argue over who pays the bill.

Co-author Vandna Sinha, a professor at McGill University, says the problem persists despite the federal government's position that there are no violations of the so-called Jordan's principle.

"You get children and First Nations families caught in the middle," she said.

Jordan's principle holds that no aboriginal child should suffer denials, delays or disruptions of health services available to other children due to jurisdictional disputes. Jordan Anderson was a Cree boy from Norway House, Man., who died in hospital in 2005 after such disagreements kept him from spending his last years in home care.

"Just provide (the service), whether you're federal or provincial or whichever department, and sort it out afterwards," said David Morley, president of UNICEF Canada, which helped fund the study. "It seems that the bureaucratic mechanisms have been getting in the way of that simple, quick response."

As part of the study, 25 front-line workers in children's services were interviewed.

"All of them were able to point to differences in the process for accessing services for First Nations children and other children," Sinha said.

Statistics on the number of occurrences proved impossible to develop, she said.

"We'd have to go jurisdiction by jurisdiction, to each individual service provider, and ask them. Right now, nobody's even trying to count."

The report details stories of how First Nations children suffered while governments shuffled files.

Parents have been denied support even when their children require 24-hour care. An infant who wouldn't breastfeed and was allergic to normal formula couldn't get Health Canada to cover the non-allergenic type.

Federal and provincial governments dickered over the cost of a special crib for a baby with neurological disorders. …

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