The Trudeau government has introduced a bill that seeks to fundamentally alter the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous communities in the area of child and family services.
Indigenous groups have long lobbied for more control in the area.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says the legislation is a step in the right direction and the main priority now is to get it passed through all levels of Parliament before the House of Commons adjourns and an election takes place in the fall.
“We’ve got four months to get this done,” he says. “If we don’t achieve royal assent, this is an introduction for first reading. It has a very precarious journey to go in four months to achieve that royal assent.”
Métis National Council President Clem Chartier says the new legislation is an important step in strengthening Indigenous self-government.
“The legislation that we see before us is another milestone in achieving the growth in the relationship with the current government on a nation-to-nation, government-to-government basis,” he says.
Chartier also says the bill will help keep Indigenous families together.
Bill C-92 was introduced by Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan in the House of Commons Thursday morning.
It was supposed to be tabled by the end of January but was delayed.
The bill aims to move control of Indigenous child and family services away from federal and provincial governments and to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
Some are criticizing the legislation for failing to attach any specific funding to its proposals.
In its last budget, the Liberal government pledged just over $1 billion to the First Nations Child and Family Services Program.
According to the 2016 Census, Indigenous children account for roughly 52 per cent of those in private foster care homes while representing only about 8 per cent of children under the age of 15.
(PHOTO: Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says the Trudeau government’s new Indigenous child and family services legislation is a step in the right direction. File photo.)