For Immediate Release - December 12, 2007
Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver - The First Nations Leadership Council is urging the federal and provincial governments to take immediate steps to implement Jordan's Principle, a motion (M-296) which was passed unanimously in the House of Commons today.
Jordan's Principle involves a "child first" approach to resolving jurisdictional disputes regarding the provision of services to Status Indian children. The principle supports a system where the government of first contact assumes primary economic responsibility for the child's health care.
"The health and well-being of our children who require health care must be at the forefront. The federal and provincial governments must take immediate steps to implement Jordan's Principle to ensure that our children are no longer the victims of a jurisdictional dispute between bureaucracies", said Grand Chief Edward John of the First Nations Summit political executive.
"It is entirely unacceptable that the health and lives of First Nations children should be put at risk over jurisdictional wrangling about which government has the financial responsibility to cover health care costs. Nor is it acceptable that First Nations parents should be forced to put their children into care in order to receive proper health care", said Regional Chief Shawn Atleo of the BC Assembly of First Nations. "We welcome the federal government's adoption of Jordan's principle. If the principle is to be truly effective, participation of all the provinces is required."
"These petty jurisdictional disputes are far too common and costly to the health of our children," said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. "We cannot afford the bickering and quibbling of government bureaucracies when a child's care is at risk. We demand the Federal Government to immediately implement the Jordan's Principle."
The NDP Member for Nanaimo-Cowichan, Jean Crowder, introduced motion (M-296) in support of Jordan's Principle to the House of Commons.
Under this principle, where a jurisdictional dispute arises between two government parties (provincial/territorial or federal) or between two departments or ministries of the same government, regarding payment for services for a Status Indian child which are otherwise available to other Canadian children, the government or ministry/department of first contact must pay for the services without delay or disruption. The paying government party can then refer the matter to jurisdictional dispute mechanisms.
Jordan's Principle was named after a young First Nations child with a rare neuromuscular disorder who spent his short life in hospital while governments disagreed over who would pay for his at-home care. While the jurisdictional dispute was settled shortly after Jordan's fourth birthday in hospital, he passed away before he could live in a family home.
The Principle stems from the findings of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada ("FNCFCS") contained in the report Wen:De, We are Coming to the Light of Day (2005).
The First Nations Leadership Council is comprised of the political executives of the BC Assembly of First Nations, First Nations Summit, and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. The Council works together to politically represent the interests of First Nations in British Columbia and develop strategies and actions to bring about significant and substantive changes to government policy that will benefit all First Nations in British Columbia.
For more information:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC, (250) 490-5314
Colin Braker, First Nations Summit, (604) 926-9903
Ryneld Starr, BC Assembly of First Nations, (604) 837-6908
UBCIC is a NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.