PSAC welcomes the $40 billion pledged to Indigenous child welfare by the federal government in its economic update and looks forward to a concrete plan to deliver these services to Indigenous children, youth and families in Canada without delay.
The funds announced are the result of many years of advocacy by First Nations groups. As Canada moves towards reconciliation, it is a long overdue step toward addressing grave historic injustices and abuses experienced by Indigenous children and families.
Alongside the legacy of harm created when First Nations children were removed from their families and communities and placed in foster care, children are still frequently denied services or left waiting far too long for services available to other children. This includes adequate education, health care, childcare, recreation, culture and language services.
This year alone, the rate of reported cases of COVID-19 in First Nations living on reserve was 40 per cent higher than the rate in the general population, with the virus intensifying the mental health crisis among First Nations youth.
Indigenous Peoples deserve full human rights, fundamental freedoms, and social infrastructure in their communities. PSAC represents many Indigenous members, including workers on First Nations reserves. As we observed on Bear Witness Day, Canadians, federal provincial and municipal governments and all public service workers must be held – and hold themselves – accountable to ending inequalities in public services for Indigenous children, youth and families in Canada. Six years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report, the Federal Liberal government has only implemented 14 of the 94 Calls to Action.
The next step in this accountability process must be the expedited implementation of the $40 billion pledge made by the federal government, in close consultation with First Nations groups. Without a concrete plan, there can be no healing path forward.