Pallister Invests 139 Cents a Day to Save Indigenous Children: Less than the Price of a Tim Horton’s Coffee
April 17, 2019
Winnipeg, MB – On April 3, 2019, the heads of the Indigenous Leadership Council met again with Minister of Families Heather Stefanson over concerns with the province’s block funding for child welfare.
“Ninety per cent of the children in care in Manitoba are Indigenous,” said Manitoba Metis Federation President David Chartrand. “The block funding structure might be new, but the numbers are based on the old formula. It does not matter what you call it, the funding rewards removals. On top of that, we are locked in for three years. Right now we have 3.5 staff supervising over 500 foster homes. There is no room in this block funding for prevention, no support to keep our families together. Right now the proposed changes amount to $41.66 a month or a $1.39 per day for each child. A Tim Horton’s coffee is worth more than our children to the province,” continued Chartrand. “But the province has even clawed this money back. By relying on the federal Children’s Special Allowance (CSA) program to offset maintenance costs, the province is forcing our children to pay for their own care.”
Under the federal government, the Children’s Special Allowance program is administered on a per-child basis and is equivalent to the combined maximum of the Canada Child Benefit (CBA) and Child Disability Benefit (CDB). These payments are meant for children in care. However, Manitoba is reducing child maintenance against the CSA funding.
“I have said this before – First Nation child welfare is subject to a complex relationship under the federal Indian Act, which has delegated jurisdiction over First Nation children to the province, resulting in a humanitarian crisis. It is absolutely shocking that the Manitoba government has introduced a block funding model which creates undue pressure and an incentive for Child and Family Service agencies to release children from care,” said Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “This jeopardizes good outcomes for the safety and wellness of southern First Nations children and families. There is no proposed capacity for implementation or transition to this new disbursement model, which amounts to monthly advances of last year’s provincially approved child maintenance expenditures, which are both inadequate and inequitable.”
“Our Authorities have yet to see a contribution agreement, even though the block funding is supposed to start at the end of the month,” said Grand Chief of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc., Garrison Settee. “The province keeps promising flexibility, but by basing the funding formula on old models we can already see they are short-changing our children and families. They made this decision without the Indigenous Leadership Council. They have consistently tried to side-step our governance structures. This is disrespectful and damaging. I have said it before and I will say it again: we know what happens when the province makes decisions about the well-being of our children and families without us. This is a step backwards towards some of the darkest times in our collective history. The Indigenous Leadership Council stands united in the fight for our children and families.”
According to provincial sources, the block funding formula is effective April 1, 2019, but the province has deferred the “hard launch” of the program for September. Until this time, the Authorities and agencies will invoice against the old set budget.
“The Indigenous Leadership Council fully understands that Minister Stefanson is under the direction of the Premier,” noted President Chartrand. “Like our Authorities, he has left her in an untenable position.”
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) is the official democratic and self-governing political representative for the Métis Nation’s Manitoba Métis Community. The Manitoba Métis are Canada’s Negotiating Partner in Confederation and the Founders of the Province of Manitoba.
Southern Chiefs Organization represents 34 Southern Manitoba First Nations.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. is a non-profit, political advocacy organization that has represented First Nation communities in Manitoba’s North since 1981
For media information, please contact:
Manitoba Metis Federation
Barney Morin, Communications Coordinator
Cell: (204) 391-0717
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc.
Media Contact: Clyde Flett Phone: 204- 390-2702
Southern Chiefs Organization Inc.
Chloe Courchene Phone: 204-946-1869