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Tribunal says $40B Indigenous child-welfare agreement doesn’t satisfy all orders



OTTAWA — Federal ministers and the Assembly of First Nations expressed disappointment Tuesday as the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decided against approving a historic, $40 billion child-welfare settlement agreement.

In a summary of a decision released that afternoon, the tribunal urged the parties to continue negotiating.

“This decision is so devastating,” the assembly’s Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse, who was part of negotiating the package, said during a press conference in Winnipeg.

“I don’t think that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal considered the major implication that this is going to have,” she said.

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“This decision is so devastating to so many people today and for First Nations and Canadians who want to see a better system.”

The finding has now thrown the landmark settlement — the largest in Canadian history — into question.

In 2019, the tribunal ordered the federal government to compensate children and families. The ruling came three years after its verdict that Ottawa had discriminated against First Nations children for years by not properly funding child-welfare services on reserves.

The federal government, Assembly of First Nations and lawyers for two related class-action lawsuits announced a deal to pay that compensation in January.

The $40 billion package was split up into two parts: $20 billion to compensate First Nations families for harms caused and $20 billion to make long-term reforms to the current system.

The tribunal awarded $40,000 for each child who suffered under the system.

However, in the summary of its decision, the tribunal expressed concerns about the timeline for claimants to opt out of the compensation program and whether all children will indeed receive the full $40,000 it says they are owed.

The parties who negotiated the settlement had been awaiting word from the tribunal as to whether it would green-light the package, which must also be approved by the Federal Court.

The tribunal says that some of the victims who should be awarded payment according to its earlier ruling “have been removed or provided with reduced compensation” under the proposed compensation arrangement.

The First Nations Child and Family Caring Society had raised such concerns to the tribunal and welcomed Tuesday’s decision, stating it doesn’t believe any child should receive less than what the tribunal originally ordered.

Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the group that first brought the matter to the tribunal, had previously said that the agreement would see some victims receiving more than $40,000 and others receiving less — a situation she found unacceptable.

“We believe the tribunal’s decision is a step in the right direction toward reconciliation,” the organization said in a statement Tuesday.

“Our expectation is that Canada immediately pays all financial reparations and supports owed to victims who have suffered so gravely and waited so long.”

Longtime New Democrat MP Charlie Angus also said the decision sent a clear message to the federal government, which he said has been trying to “ignore their responsibility.”

“This accord cannot rest on the principle that the government can choose to ignore certain children,” Angus said.

Woodhouse says that more than 300,000 families had been hoping to see the settlement approved by the end of the year.

“I don’t know when or if compensation will flow to these kids and families at this stage. We have come so, so close to compensation finally reaching our people. And today’s ruling is a significant, significant setback,” she said.

Attorney General of Canada and Justice Minister David Lametti says that as a next step, the federal government will wait for the tribunal to release its full decision and identify the issues within it.

Lametti said Tuesday that the government will continue working with First Nations leaders to find a solution and there is “no final decision on anything today.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct, 25. 2022.

— With files from Brittany Hobson and Marie-Danielle Smith.


Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press


Afghan refugees: Government delays increasing financial pressure – CTV News



Refugee advocates are raising concerns that Afghan refugees granted asylum in Canada are being burdened by escalating costs stemming from the government’s delay in processing their claims.

Before they board their flight to Canada, all refugees are required to sign a loan agreement to pay back the cost of their transportation and pre-arrival expenses which can include hotel stays.

Some Afghans identified by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as eligible for resettlement have been waiting months for exit permits while living in hotels arranged by the government. The hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their debt.

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The Canadian Council for Refugees says Afghans are being forced to pay for an inefficient bureaucracy.

“It seems like the Canadian government is taking advantage of the vulnerability of people,” says Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council of Refugees. Hotel bills can add thousands of dollars to their government debt.

Dench says refugees have no choice but to accept a “legally dubious” contract that doesn’t stipulate a precise loan amount.

“If they want a permanent home they have to sign on to whatever the terms of the agreement are. There’s no negotiation room, so people are forced into this situation.”


Because Canada doesn’t recognize the Taliban government Afghans must get to a third country with consular support to complete their refugee applications. Many flee to neighboring Pakistan where Canada has a High Commission in the capital of Islamabad.

Nearly all Afghan refugees deemed eligible for resettlement are placed in the care of the International Organization for Migration while they are overseas.

The IOM organizes both charter and commercial flights to Canada and coordinates hotel stays for refugees as they wait for their exit permits. IOM doesn’t book flights until after IRCC has completed security and medical checks of its applicants. The organization bills the Canadian government approximately $150 per day to house and provide three meals a day for one family.

Of the 25,400 Afghans who have arrived in Canada since August 2021, IOM spokesperson Paul Dillon told CTV News in an emailed statement Friday the organizations has arranged travel for more than 22,000 of those refugees.

The claims of another 15,000 Afghans Canada committed to accepting after the Taliban took over the country have been delayed.

Irfanullah Noori, 28 and his family of five stepped off a plane at Pearson International Airport less than two months ago at the end of October. Before the Taliban took over his homeland in Noori worked as a logistics coordinator at the Kabul International Airport. He qualified for asylum because his brother served as an interpreter for Canadian soldiers.

Before being issued travel documents to Canada, Nouri, his wife and their three children, all under the age of five – stayed in an Islamabad hotel arranged by IOM for three months.

Irfanullah Noori poses with his youngest daughter on October 25, 2022 at the Pakistan International Airport before he boarded plane bound for Canada.

Before boarding his flight he signed a loan agreement. Nouri says IOM staff told him he would need to repay hotel expenses that added up to more than $13,000. That amount does not factor in the cost of flights for his family that he will also have to repay.


IRCC says 96 per cent of refugees are able to pay back the loans. Monthly payments on the interest free loans are scheduled to begin one year after refugees arrive in Canada and costs can be spread out over nine years.

The federal government puts a cap of $15,000 on each loan per family, but the Canadian Council for Refugees says this is a misleading number.

Refugee families who have older dependents may have to pay back more than the cap. That’s because dependents over the age of 22 years old, can be considered a separate family unit and required to take on a new loan. Dench says this policy puts refugees in a precarious economic position. She’s seen families fight over finances and hopes and dreams put on hold.

“You have young people who should normally be going to university and pursuing their education but they feel that they’re morally obliged to get down to work, even at a minimum wage job in order to pay off the family debt,” said Dench. She argues the Canadian government should stop requiring refugees to repay the costs of getting them to safety, no matter where they come from.


Since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the Veterans Transition Network has helped raise funds to get interpreters and others out of Afghanistan. Oliver Thorne, VTN’s executive director says he’s frustrated that there are huge variations how long it takes for claims to be approved between applicants with similar profiles

“Some migrants are left in the dark. They don’t know why it’s taking them an additional two, four or six months compared to another interpreter who worked with the Canadian armed forces.” Thorne says IRCC needs to hire and train more staff to speed up the processing of claims.

He’s also calling for the removal of loan requirements, especially for Afghans who assisted the Canadian armed forces.

“They protected our men and women in uniform at great risk to themselves and their families. And secondly, these are going to be Canadians. They’re going to live here in our society down the street from us, and we have nothing to gain by making their transition more difficult,” Thorne said in an interview from Vancouver.


CTV News asked the Immigration Minister if it was fair that the Canadian government was burdening Afghans with additional costs due to the government backlog.

On Friday, Sean Fraser blamed a complicated process, but acknowledged that some refugees had been stuck “for a significant period of time.’ But the minister offered few solutions other than a vague reassurance that his department was “working with Pakistani officials to make sure we’re facilitating the smooth transportation of people to Canada.”

Meanwhile Noori is struggling to make ends meet in his new Ontario home, despite finding a job a few weeks ago at the General Motors plant in Oshawa.

Hired as a data-entry clerk, Noori earns $19/hour and is trying to pick up extra shifts on the weekend so he can make his $2,000 monthly rent on a one bedroom apartment.

Even though he won’t have to start paying back his refugee loan until next year, he’s daunted by the impending bill.

“It’s expensive (here.) I work 8 hours a day and six days a week. It will be very hard for me to pay back.”

After surviving the Taliban, Noori now faces subsistence in Canada.

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Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries



A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.

Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.

It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.

Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.

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Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog



Slain RCMP Const. Yang cleared of wrongdoing in shooting: B.C. police watchdog

British Columbia‘s police watchdog has cleared a slain Burnaby RCMP constable of wrongdoing after she shot a man in the altercation that led to her death.

The Independent Investigations Office says after a review of all available evidence its chief civilian director determined that there are no reasonable grounds to believe Const. Shaelyn Yang committed an offence.

It says the matter will not be referred to the Crown for consideration of charges.

Yang, a 31-year-old mental health and homeless outreach officer, was stabbed to death on Oct. 18 while she and a City of Burnaby employee attempted to issue an eviction notice to a man who had been living in a tent at a local park.

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Yang shot the suspect before she died, and the IIO later said Jongwon Ham underwent surgery for his injuries.

Ham has since been charged with first-degree murder in Yang’s death.

“Due to concurrent court proceedings related to the incident, the IIO’s public report will not be released on the IIO website until that process has concluded,” the IIO said in a news release.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2022.

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