Nearing deadline, feds still mulling appeal of ruling to compensate Indigenous children
OTTAWA -- The federal government remains undecided about whether it will appeal a decision by the Federal Court to uphold two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal orders requiring Ottawa to pay out billions of dollars to Indigenous children.
Ottawa has until Friday to fight the ruling, one month after Federal Court Justice Paul Favel decided the Liberals had failed to demonstrate that the tribunal’s decision to compel the government to compensate each First Nations child unnecessarily taken into the child-welfare system was unreasonable.
“We hope to have a decision on this specific case in the coming days,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti on Wednesday following the Liberal's first cabinet meeting.
He added that the government remains committed to compensating Indigenous children subjected to the underfunded on-reserve programs.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken issue with the compensation structure that, under the CHRT ruling, would see the government paying $40,000 to each First Nations child removed from their home after 2006, as well as to their parents or grandparents.
Trudeau has previously stated that compensation should be reflective of harm endured.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller also spoke about the case on Wednesday, and when asked which minister was ultimately making the call, Miller said the decision is the government’s to make.
Indigenous leaders and child advocates say choosing to appeal would cast doubt on the Liberals’ commitment to reconciliation.
Pam Palmater, Mi’kmaw lawyer and chair in Indigenous governance at Ryerson University, told CTV’s Your Morning Wednesday that she fears Ottawa will force a court challenge.
“It would be great if they could just prove us wrong, this one time, and say here’s our act of good faith, we’re not going to appeal this because to be honest they’ve lost every single case and intervention…why continue to waste money when they could just be compensating for what they clearly did wrong, ” she said.