Feds fight ruling on compensation for failures in First Nations child services

COURT

The federal government is appealing a ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordering Ottawa to pay $2 billion in compensation to First Nations children and their families who were separated by a chronically underfunded child-welfare system.

The government has filed a notice of application with the Federal Court, asking for a judicial review of the tribunal's ruling in September.

In that decision, the tribunal said the federal government "wilfully and recklessly" discriminated against Indigenous children living on reserves by not properly funding child and family services.

The result was a mass removal of Indigenous children from their parents for years in a system Indigenous leaders say had more First Nations kids living in foster care than at the height of the residential-schools era.

The tribunal awarded the maximum damages it can, $40,000, for each child taken away for lack of proper services or who was later returned to his or her family; for each parent or grandparent who had a child taken; for each child who experienced abuse in foster care; and for each child who was taken into foster care because proper medical supports were not made available to their families.

The decision to challenge the ruling comes three days before the Oct. 7 deadline to file an appeal.