TORONTO, Dec. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Mr. Irwin Elman, has been denied leave to intervene in the Federal Court of Appeal case about equitable child welfare funding and services for First Nations children.
"We are disappointed by the Court's decision to deny us leave to intervene," said Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. "Young people need to know we are here for them. We will continue to push for all children in Canada to be afforded equal access to the services they need."
The underlying human rights complaint in this case, filed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, alleges that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children on reserves by underfunding child welfare services. On its appeal, the federal government is arguing that comparing the services First Nations children receive with those other Canadians receive is "beyond the jurisdiction" of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
The Provincial Advocate opposes the federal government's appeal. "This is a children's rights issue, not simply an issue about funding and jurisdictions," says Elman. "The Federal Court has decided that the best interests of the children will be canvassed by the parties to the appeal currently. First Nations children are going to be critically affected and we hope their best interest remains at the forefront of this appeal."
In April, the Federal Court sent the case back to the Human Rights Tribunal to be heard on its merits, and this hearing begins in February. The federal government's appeal could stop that hearing.
"This case should be heard on its merits, so that the Human Rights Tribunal can look at the evidence and decide whether or not First Nations children are being treated fairly," said Mr. Elman. "This is about how we want to treat children in our society and about what we believe is fair."
About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The Provincial Advocate receives and responds to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate identifies systemic problems involving children, conducts reviews and provides education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children. The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.
SOURCE: Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
For further information:
For further information or to speak to Mr. Elman, please contact:
Fiona Taylor, 416-420-7728 or [email protected]