Jane Philpott – minister for Indigenous Services in Canada, believes that the disproportionate population of Indigenous children in the country’s child welfare system has led to “humanitarian crisis” in Canada.
In a letter sent to her territorial and provincial counterparts on Tuesday, Philpott has requested an “emergency meeting” to discuss the issue of family services and indigenous children in the beginning of the New Year.
The meeting will include representatives of the Indigenous communities and experts on child welfare.
“We are facing a humanitarian crisis in this country where Indigenous children are vastly disproportionately over-represented in the child welfare system,” said Philpott.
Philpott pointed out that in Manitoba alone, there are 11,000 children registered in the welfare system, and 10,000 out of these are children from the indigenous communities.
Statistics released by after the latest Canada census also reveal that there are currently 4,300 indigenous children aged four or younger, enrolled into foster care.
She said, “This is very much reminiscent of the residential school system where children are being scooped up from their homes, taken away from their family and we will pay the price for this for generations to come.”
At present, Ottawa is facing a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decree issued back in January 2016, which ordered an instantaneous overhaul of the First Nation child welfare system, along with increased on-reserve funding.
According to the tribunal’s ruling, the federal government has been found discriminating against the First Nation children through under-funded child welfare services.
Last year, Ottawa invested an additional amount of $200 million for the First Nation child welfare services. Another $256 million were committed to the cause this year.
Although more money invested into the system is a good call, Philpott believes it will only provide child welfare agencies to seize more children – the more children they have, the better funds they will receive.
“That is perverse incentive…We should be providing more resources to prevent apprehensions.”
In addition to the increased funding, Philpott is pushing for a comprehensive strategy to completely overhaul the system.