Social Development

AFN Annual Report 2012-13

Social Development

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) seeks to achieve the vision of “an inclusive, holistic and culturally-based social development system under First Nation control that builds healthy, safe and sustainable communities”. Key priorities for the AFN in social development are to further work in Income Assistance, Assisted Living, Family Violence Prevention, Child Welfare and Jordan’s Principle.

The following resolutions guide this work:

  • Resolutions 01/2012, 02/2011, 61/2010: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada
  • Resolutions 17/2012, 17/2009, 23/2004: Chiefs Task Force on Child and Family Services
  • Resolution 76/2011: Jurisdiction and Consultation on Child Welfare Policies
  • Resolution 36/2011: Support for Child Welfare
  • Resolution 37/2011: Income Assistance Shelter Policy
  • Resolution 74/2010: Welfare Policies
  • Resolution 06/2009: Children and the Canadian Human Rights Act
  • Resolution 12/2008: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Income Assistance Program
  • Resolution 13/2008: AFN-INAC Joint Working Group on Assisted Living
  • Resolution 14/2008: Emergency Resolution on Child and Family Services
  • Resolution 63/2008: Implementation of Jordan’s Principle

Key Issues and Activities

Income Assistance

The AFN continues to build upon the work and materials that were produced in the last fiscal year. Dissemination of the Youth Income Assistance Toolkit and the Active Measures Community Resource Guide (AMCRG) is ongoing. Both resources have been shared widely, through physical distribution at the 2012 Annual General Assembly (AGA) and other forums, as well as electronically through our networks and the AFN Social Development Portal. A national workshop on the AMCRG and active measures was also held at the 2012 Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA).

The AFN Social Development Unit continues to work with the First Nations Income Assistance Working Group (FNIAWG) and continues to encourage AFN National Youth Council (NYC) participation to provide a youth voice and perspective to ongoing income assistance issues (Resolution 74/2010). The AFN NYC is actively engaged in ongoing discussion and planning for moving forward with the toolkit and continuing its role in helping First Nations youth become less dependent on Income Assistance.

Directed by Resolution 37/2011, the AFN continues to call on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to properly consult and negotiate with First Nations on the development of new policies where it relates to the Income Assistance Shelter Policy. The AFN continues to make it a priority to seek active engagement of First Nations in all AANDC policy development related to Income Assistance.

Assisted Living

The First Nations Assisted Living Working Group (FNALWG) met twice in last year, to discuss an implementation strategy for the potential transfer of the in-home care component of the program to Home and Community Care (HCC) at Health Canada (HC). The proposed transfer has been delayed with no indication of whether the transfer will go ahead, and the FNALWG is now engaging AANDC in discussions over the impacts this proposed transfer would have at the grassroots level. 

A case study was completed in the spring of 2013 in one First Nations community, which examined integration (HCC and Assisted Living) initiatives. An environmental scan that examined levels of service for community Assisted Living was also completed in 2013.

Family Violence Prevention

Family Violence Prevention has taken on a heightened profile in the last number of years. For example, at the 2012 AGA, Chiefs and delegates signed a banner and made a personal pledge to “live violence free and to personally work to achieve safety and security for all Indigenous peoples – women and men, girls and boys”. At the same AGA, Resolution 01/2012 was passed, affirming the direction of the AFN in demanding the “Government of Canada support community based initiatives and national programs that seek to promote public awareness and carry out advocacy and research about violence against Indigenous women”.  The AFN and Native Women’s Association of Canada jointly hosted a National Forum on Community Safety and Ending Violence in April 2013 and continue work to develop a National Action Plan to End Violence.

The AFN continues to collaborate with partners including the National Aboriginal Circle Against Family Violence (NACAFV). In addition, the AFN developed a video in the spring of 2013 entitled “Live a Life of Integrity”, which included men and Elders discussing their approach towards building and sustaining healthy families and communities not impacted by violence.

Child Welfare

The AFN and the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society (FNCFCS) filed a human rights complaint on February 5, 2007, arguing that the federal government is discriminating against First Nations children by failing to provide equitable and culturally-based services on reserve. The case is currently before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. Recently, it was divulged that the Government of Canada has withheld tens of thousands of documents that it was obligated to disclose to the lawyers representing the AFN and the FNCFCS under the human rights commission rules. The Government of Canada is currently using this failure to disclose documentation as a delay tactic and has requested that the proceedings be put on hold while they gather the more than 50,000 documents. Discussions are currently underway on how to proceed given these recent revelations.

Jordan’s Principle

On November 23, 2011, lawyers on behalf of the Pictou Landing Band Council and Maurina Beadle filed an application against the Government of Canada arguing that the Government of Canada be required to cover the cost of care for Maurina Beadle’s severely disabled son, Jeremy. On April 4, 2013, a decision by the Federal Court ordered the Government of Canada to reimburse the money associated with helping Ms. Beadle care for her son at home. This decision is the first in upholding the application of Jordan’s Principle in providing health care services to First Nations children. Unfortunately, on May 7, 2013, the federal government appealed the decision. Despite the setback, Ms. Beadle and the Pictou Landing Band Council are confident that the courts will again judge in their favor. The role that the AFN will play in this appeal is to be determined.

Next Steps - Moving Forward

  • Improve the working relationship between the AFN and AANDC on social development matters, including securing AFN involvement in high level policy discussions with AANDC leadership responsible for social development.
  • Expand the 2012-2013 environmental scan on institutional care to cover two additional regions and conduct an environmental scan and analysis on policy options related to programs and services available to the elderly and disabled in First Nations communities
  • Promote and disseminate the recently-developed film “Living a Life of Integrity” as an effective tool in encouraging a positive approach towards Family Violence Prevention.
  • Work with partners on improving data collection tools related to Family Violence Prevention
  • Develop a proposal guide to aid potential recipients in developing effective funding proposals for AANDC’s Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP). 
  • Continue to work with youth, mainly through the AFN NYC, to ensure that the work around decreasing youth dependence on Income Assistance continues and that youth are engaged and informed with respect to Income Assistance reform.
  • Continue to monitor and participate, as determined by leadership, in Child Welfare related activities including potential Jordan’s Principle related legal proceedings.
  • Continue pursuing the human rights complaint on unequal funding for First Nations Child and Family Services.

 

Assembly of First Nations