Jor­dan’s Prin­ci­ple could have pre­vented sui­cides

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

OT­TAWA — The Cana­dian Hu­man Rights Tri­bunal says the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s fail­ure to fully im­ple­ment Jor­dan’s Prin­ci­ple may have con­trib­uted to the sui­cides of two teenagers in an On­tario First Na­tion this year.

The prin­ci­ple lays out how to pro­ceed when a ju­ris­dic­tional dis­pute arises over pay­ing for ser­vices to First Na­tions chil­dren, say­ing the first gov­ern­ment to be con­tacted should pay, with ar­gu­ments over ju­ris­dic­tion to be sorted out later.

It’s named af­ter a five-year-old Man­i­toba boy who died in hospi­tal in 2005 while wait­ing for Ot­tawa and the Man­i­toba gov­ern­ment to de­cide who would pay for the spe­cial­ized care he needed so he could live in a foster home.

In a 52-page de­ci­sion re­leased Fri­day, the tri­bunal chas­tised Ot­tawa for fail­ing to im­ple­ment a Jan­uary 2016 or­der to fully fol­low Jor­dan’s Prin­ci­ple.

That fail­ure meant there was no chance to pre­vent the Wapekeka First Na­tion tragedy, and that Canada only of­fered help for the On­tario re­serve af­ter the deaths oc­curred.

Jor­dan’s Prin­ci­ple should ap­ply to all First Na­tions chil­dren re­gard­less of whether they live on or off re­serve, and should en­sure there are no gaps in ser­vice to those chil­dren, the de­ci­sion says.

A joint state­ment Fri­day from Health Min­is­ter Jane Philpott and In­dige­nous Af­fairs Min­is­ter Carolyn Ben­nett said the gov­ern­ment is re­view­ing the de­ci­sion to look at where the tri­bunal says it is not in full com­pli­ance.

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