Jordan’s Principle could have prevented suicides
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.