Representative of Children and Youth’s report on Delegate Aboriginal Agencies: How resourcing affects service delivery

Photo Credit: StockSnap User  Aaron Burden

Photo Credit: StockSnap User Aaron Burden

Camille Bains, writing for the Canadian Press in an article published March 31, 2017, interviewed BC’s representative for children and youth, Bernard Richard, on his report on problems with service delivery, released on March 30, 2017.

Richard’s report was based on interview with 45 staff in the aboriginal agencies, including child-protection workers, and an international review of staffing issues involving indigenous child-welfare systems.

Richard says, “The fact that 62% of the kids in care are indigenous in a province where they represent less than 10% of the child population is unacceptable."  He expressed concern that British Columbia’s indigenous children are being removed from their homes and placed in care because of underfunding from both provincial and federal governments.

He indicated two primary causes for this inequity:

  1. Current funding models mean agencies that support aboriginal families are unlikely to provide the same level of help compared with services at BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development, resulting in a two-tiered system.
  2. The province’s confusing funding arrangement with 23 agencies delegated to help indigenous families result in inequitable services for children depending on where they live.

Richard indicated that the ministry had not been fully co-operative during the preparation of his report, saying that after a year of requests for funding information to be included in the report, his office received a “dump” of 30 documents the day before the report was due for release.  As well, he points to a lack of a constructive relationship between the provincial government and INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) on these issues, stating that the issue of inequitable funding, in particular, is “an embarrassment for the country.”

The Indian Affairs department responded with a statement:  “Removing children from their homes has a devastating effect on both the child and the parents.  That is why the federal government is working closely with First Nations to reform the system and end the perverse incentives in the funding formulas that incentivize children being apprehended.”  The department states that a working group of representatives of Canada, BC, and the First Nations Leadership Council in the province has been struck to focus on ways to change child welfare.

BC Children’s Minister, Stephanie Cadieux, responded “We have known for some time that there have been some inequities with how we fund our (Delegated Aboriginal Agencies) and work now has been underway to bring all of that in line and to fund those (agencies) with an equity model with the ministry.”

A CBC News report by Matt Meuse, on the same day, pointed out, “The report’s claim that federal funding models are discriminatory stems from a similar finding by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in January 2016.  The tribunal found that INAC’s funding model, which is based on the number of children in care, incentivizes the removal of children from their families in order to secure more funding.”

The report can be read in full on the Representative for Children and Youth's website.