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Ottawa owes less than feds calculated in First Nations child welfare case: PBO

OTTAWA — Canada’s parliamentary budget officer says Ottawa will have to pay up to $2.9 billion in compensation to First Nations children and families torn apart by an underfunded child welfare system — a figure that is half the amount estimated by the federal government.

Yves Giroux says his office estimates between 19,000 and 65,100 people would be eligible for compensation awarded by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling last fall that found the federal government “wilfully and recklessly” discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by not properly funding child and family services for them.

The tribunal ordered Ottawa to pay $40,000 to every First Nations child who was inappropriately taken away from his or her parents after 2006, and to their parents and grandparents.

The PBO’s estimates of eligible claimants is far lower than numbers estimated by the federal government.

Indigenous Services Canada says it expects 125,600 people are eligible for compensation totalling $5.4 billion.

Giroux says his office has tallied fewer people as eligible mainly because it assumes children taken from their parents and placed within their extended families or communities are not eligible for compensation, while the federal interpretation of the tribunal’s ruling is more broad.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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