Re: Assembly of First Nations and First Nations Child and Family Caring
Society of Canada. V. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
OTTAWA, Feb. 28 /CNW/ -
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has asked the Canadian Human Rights
Tribunal to expedite the hearing of a complaint sent for examination in
2009. The complaint deals with the welfare of children on reserves and
could have important impact on the scope of the Canadian Human Rights Act and the protections Canadians enjoy in law.
The complainants have filed a statement in court today to demand a
judicial order that the case proceed to a hearing. The Commission hopes
that this demand will prove unnecessary and that the case will proceed.
The Commission has written to the Tribunal to express this view.
The complaint was brought by the Assembly of First Nations and First
Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada against Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada. It is the first to come to the Commission
since 2008, when Parliament repealed Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and, for the first time, Aboriginals on reserves became entitled to
full human rights protection in dealings with the federal government.
The complainants allege that the formula for funding First Nations
family service organizations systemically discriminates against these
agencies on the basis of race. The groups maintain that the funding
formula prevents First Nations child welfare agencies from providing
the same level of support to families in crisis as agencies serving
non-First Nations communities.
The Attorney General has argued that the provision of funding to First
Nations family service organizations is not a "service" as defined in
the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that the complaint is therefore outside the scope of the Act.
After a full investigation, the Commission referred the complaint to the
Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for a hearing and adjudication.
Pursuant to its statutory mandate, the Commission took the decision to
intervene before the Tribunal in the public interest.
There are two main reasons why the Commission determined that the public
interest is at issue in this case. First, is the humanitarian issue of
under-funding, and its documented impact on the welfare of vulnerable
children on reserves. The hardship of children makes this an urgent
Secondly, the Tribunal's decision could affect a wide range of cases
involving federally funded programs and services. If it is determined
that these services do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Act, Canadians may no longer be able to file discrimination complaints in
relation to services provided by the government.
The Federal Court has stated that this case should be heard. Case law
from the courts has said that human rights complaints should proceed
expeditiously. The Commission supports the Tribunal in that effort.
SOURCE Canadian Human Rights Commission
For further information:
or to request an interview:
Director, Communications Branch
Canadian Human Rights Commission