Statement from Provincial and Territorial Ministers on Improving Outcomes for Indigenous Children, Youth and Families
In advance of the upcoming meeting with Jane Philpott, federal Minister of Indigenous Services, on January 25-26, 2018, Provincial and Territorial Ministers with responsibility for child and family services convened to discuss emerging opportunities.
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth in care and to improving outcomes for Indigenous children and youth. They discussed the importance of meaningful collaboration with Indigenous leaders and communities and the Government of Canada on the federal reform of child and family services for Indigenous children, youth, and families, and issued the following statement:
Co-chairs of the Provincial/Territorial Indigenous Children and Youth in Care Working Group
“Working in partnership with Indigenous leaders and communities, provinces and territories are committed to improving outcomes for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children and youth, by taking holistic, prevention-based approaches that support families and communities.
In 2014, Canada’s Premiers reiterated the need for governments and Indigenous communities to work collaboratively to address Indigenous child welfare issues and requested that the federal government be engaged in this work. At their 2015 meeting, Premiers released a report that identified promising practices and encouraged Ministers to carry on the drive for change. Provinces and territories took that charge to heart, leading to a renewed collective focus on actions to improve outcomes for Indigenous children and youth by Ministers responsible for child and family services.
Provinces and territories agree that collaboration with the federal government must respect existing relationships and engagement processes that provinces and territories have developed with regional First Nations, Inuit and Métis leadership and organizations, as well as with local Indigenous communities.
Recognizing that the federal government has constitutional responsibilities toward First Nations on reserve as well as responsibility to all Indigenous peoples, provinces and territories acknowledge that stronger partnerships and new and immediate funding is needed from the Government of Canada to reach substantive equity in outcomes for Indigenous children and youth.
We hope the federal government will commit to:
- Enhancing support for all Indigenous children and families, including First Nations children and youth on-and off-reserve, as well as Inuit and Métis children and youth;
- Addressing underlying root causes – such as poverty, intergenerational trauma and access to housing, recreation, healthcare and education – that contribute to higher numbers of Indigenous children and youth being placed in child welfare systems;
- Supporting meaningful engagement with regional/local First Nations, Métis, and Inuit leaders and provinces and territories on the development of federal initiatives that will help reduce the number of Indigenous children and youth in care, while respecting and ensuring alignment with distinctive provincial and territorial service delivery systems;
- Supporting provincial/territorial-supported or led initiatives for systemic changes and new governance models that empower Indigenous families, leaders and communities in decisions regarding Indigenous child welfare; and,
- Ensuring equitable, flexible and substantive federal funding for Indigenous children and youth services that address root causes and improve prevention and support services, in order to ensure they have better outcomes and lifelong connections to family, culture and community.
We are encouraged by the federal government’s engagement in this matter and their commitment to partnership and meaningful collaboration in the reform of child and family services for Indigenous children, youth, and families.
The upcoming meeting on January 25-26 with Minister Philpott, Provincial and Territorial Ministers and national and regional First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders represents an opportunity for all of us to work toward greater collaboration on this critical issue.Together we are hopeful that the meeting will be a catalyst for making genuine progress on reducing the number of Indigenous children and youth in care across Canada.”
Michael Coteau & Scott Fielding