The Pasqua First Nation, Jaylene Agecoutay and the Touchwood Child and Family Services is launching a proposed class-action civil suit against the Saskatchewan government, alleging it is discriminating against off-reserve children in government-care.
The suit claims the province is denying the Children’s Special Allowance (CSA). The Allowance is paid to those and to child welfare organizations that are caring for children.
The CSA is paid monthly to the maximum of the Canada Child Benefit. However, Pasqua Chief Todd Peigan asserts that “the Saskatchewan Government’s CSA Policy leads to adverse impact discrimination against Indigenous children, by denying them a benefit that children out of care receive.”
He asserts that 25 percent of the Indigenous population is children, yet 65 percent of the children in care are Aboriginal, meaning the provincial policy is disproportionately impacting off-reserve Indigenous children in care.
“The overrepresentation of our First Nations children within the child welfare systems is a continuation of the historic pattern of removal of Indigenous children from their homes. The residential school system did unimaginable damage to First Nations peoples by removing children from the influence of their families, traditions, and cultures,” said Chief Peigan.
The plaintiffs allege the province is using the benefit to offset, defray or reduce its child welfare funding obligations.
“It is wrong for the Province of Saskatchewan to subsidize its child welfare funding obligations on the backs of our children. They are stealing money from our children. We are standing up for our children and we will not allow this to happen,” Paigen explained.
The suit said that children in care and Agencies have a legal right to access the CSA benefit, just as parents of children not in care are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit. The plaintiffs allege that Indigenous children in care have been denied the benefit for decades, but that the exact amount denied is not known.
Paigen and the legal representatives are expected to address the media on Tuesday. None of the allegations have been tested in court.