Manitoba Liberal pushes federal Liberals on child welfare

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/12/2019 (1025 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont shared a Nov. 27 letter he sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the letter, Lamont urges the federal government to respect a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling and develop a plan to immediately pay Indigenous kids and families wronged by the child welfare system. (Mikaela MacKenzie / Free Press files)

Provincial Liberals are urging their federal cousins to respect a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling and develop a plan to immediately pay Indigenous kids and families wronged by the child welfare system.

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont shared a Nov. 27 letter he sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with media Wednesday. Therein, he described the current situation as “one of the most important moral issues” facing the country and province.

“If we are to fulfill our obligation to healing and reconciliation, we should start with Indigenous families and children. We must recognize the wrongs that have occurred, while at the same time (providing) supports to families and communities that have been torn apart by policies of child removal for more than a century,” Lamont told Trudeau.

His letter was also copied to the federal ministers of Justice, Crown-Indigenous Relations, Indigenous Services and Northern Affairs.

In September, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the government to pay $40,000 to all Indigenous children who were inappropriately placed in foster care because of underfunded family services on reserves, as well as to the parents or grandparents who had kids taken away. Compensation was also ordered for children who were refused essential services.

The tribunal set a Dec. 10 deadline for the government to submit a payment plan, which was then pushed back to Jan. 29, 2020. The federal government wanted the court to remove any deadline and give it a chance to come up with a compensation package outside the confines of the order.

Manitoba legislative assembly colleagues gave subdued feedback about Lamont’s letter.

Families Minister Heather Stefanson said she was not going to comment on a federal issue that’s currently the subject of a judicial review.

NDP MLA Ian Bushie (Keewatinook) said Lamont’s timing was “somewhat disappointing.”

“During the provincial election, he made no mention of (the tribunal ruling) at all and in fact, supported the federal Liberal government on being able to go ahead and challenge the order,” Bushie said.

The Assembly of First Nations, which is one of the plaintiffs in the tribunal case, hailed the provincial Liberals’ move. National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the provincial Progressive Conservatives should join their Liberal counterparts.

-With files from Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

jessica.botelho@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @_jessbu

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