Assembly of First Nations National Chief Frustrated By Federal Appeal of Beadle Case, Neglect for Jordan’s Principle
May 8, 2013
(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo expressed concern regarding the Government of Canada’s appeal of the April 2013 federal court decision reaffirming Jordan’s Principle – a 2007 parliamentary motion requiring governments to put jurisdictional disputes related to payment aside in order to ensure First Nations children receive the same care available to non-First Nations children.
“It is extremely frustrating that the federal government has chosen to expend scarce resources to continue this case in court, rather than fulfilling the commitment under Jordan’s Principle with the health of our kids first,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. “If we’re genuinely committed to achieving solutions, we have to smash the status quo of protracted legal disputes that cost everyone. The lives and care of our children are at stake, and we must do everything in our power to support their health and safety. This is not something that can be disputed. It cannot wait.”
In what was considered a landmark ruling, last month the Federal Court ruled that the federal government is bound by Jordan’s Principle, ordering the federal government to reimburse the cost of care for Pictou Landing First Nation member Jeremy Meewasige (18) who lives with numerous complex disabilities requiring 24 hour care.
In the first decision to uphold the application of the unanimously passed motion of 2007, federal court Justice Leonard Mandamin ruled not only that Jordan’s Principle be applied in this case, but that “Jordan’s Principle is not to be narrowly interpreted.”
National Chief Atleo’s comments come after a statement from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development yesterday confirming that the federal government has decided to appeal the Court’s April 2013 decision.
“No child should be denied health or medical services because of jurisdictional disputes between federal and provincial/territorial governments, and AFN will continue to call on all governments to work with First Nations to ensure the full and proper implementation of Jordan’s Principle,” said National Chief Atleo.
Adopted unanimously by the House of Commons December 12, 2007, Jordan’s Principle is a mechanism to prevent First Nations children from being denied equal access to benefits or protections available to other Canadians as a result of First Nations status. It states that the government department first contacted for a service readily available off-reserve must pay for it while pursuing repayment of expenses, and that jurisdictional disputes, whether they are between departments or between levels of government, must not impede the provision of health care services to First Nations.
Jordan’s Principle is consistent with government obligations set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and many federal, provincial and territorial child-focused statutes.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or email@example.com