Jordan's Principle Background
Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle named in memory of Jordan River Anderson, a First Nations child from Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba. Born with complex medical needs, Jordan spent more than two years unnecessarily in hospital while the Province of Manitoba and the federal government argued over who should pay for his at home care. Jordan died in the hospital at the age of five years old, never having spent a day in his family home. Jordan’s Principle aims to make sure First Nations children can access public services ordinarily available to other Canadian children without experiencing any service denials, delays or disruptions related to their First Nations status.
Payment disputes within and between federal and provincial governments over services for First Nations children are not uncommon. First Nations children are frequently left waiting for services they desperately need, or are denied services that are available to other children. This includes services in education, health, childcare, recreation, and culture and language. Jordan's Principle calls on the government of first contact to pay for the services and seek reimbursement later so the child does not get tragically caught in the middle of government red tape.
In a landmark ruling on January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government to immediately stop applying a limited and discriminatory definition of Jordan’s Principle, and to immediately take measures to implement the full meaning and scope of the principle.
On July 6, 2016, INAC submitted a compliance report to the Tribunal providing an update on its implementation of the principle. In the submission, the government committed to invest up to $382 million to implement a broader application of Jordan's Principle. At the same time, INAC continued to limit the principle's application to children living on reserve with a disability or short-term condition. The Caring Society is awaiting clarification to understand: 1) what the funding announcement really means for children on the ground, 2) who the federal government is applying it to, and 3) how its proposed approach differs from the discriminatory approach it has used up until now.