Joint Ministerial Statement on the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s May 26th Decision

June 23, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – Health Canada

Our Government is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. We are also committed to ending discriminatory practices and inequities that have existed for too long. We have made significant investments in health, education, housing, drinking water, languages and culture to advance reconciliation. We are also committed to ensuring that First Nations children receive the care they need in keeping with what is known as Jordan’s Principle.

In January 2016, our Government began responding to a series of rulings from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The Tribunal has continued to issue new orders, refining both the definition of Jordan’s Principle and how it should be applied. Each time, our Departments have worked diligently to implement these directives, building on recent improvements made through collaborative efforts with First Nations regionally and locally. This is an ongoing challenge, and we will continue to focus on ensuring that First Nations children and families have access to the services and supports they need.

The Child-First Initiative, introduced in July 2016, is just one example of measures adopted to ensure that children with unmet needs receive the care and services they need. Since that time, we have approved approximately 8,800 requests for health, social and education services and supports. These have included many types of services, including mental health supports, speech therapy, addiction treatment, educational supports, and more. To date, more than 99% of the requests received have been approved.

A few weeks ago, the Tribunal issued further orders. We have again worked quickly to implement them and communicate the Tribunal’s findings to all communities and groups involved.

While we accept the May 26 ruling, we will seek clarity from the Federal Court on two specific aspects of the ruling that may hinder our ability to provide the best care for children. The clarifications we seek are informed by our experience and expertise as doctors. The ruling states that requests for services must be processed within 12 to 48 hours, and must be processed without case conferencing. In some cases, this is necessary and entirely feasible, and we are already putting in place new commitments that will speed up reviews and respond to many of these cases within this time-frame. In other more complex cases, consultation with healthcare professionals is essential to ensuring children receive the most appropriate and best care available. Ensuring the best health care and social services requires teamwork with patients and family members to assess needs, develop a treatment plan, and make the right service arrangements.

Our Government is committed to addressing longstanding, unmet needs of First Nations children with First Nations partners. Our focus will remain where it has always been, on continuing to improve care for First Nations children.

The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs


Media Relations
Health Canada


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