The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act) came into effect January 1, 2020.
The Act represents a significant shift within the Canadian child and family services system for Indigenous children. The Act affirms that the inherent right to self-government under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 includes jurisdiction in relation to child and family services, including legislative authority and the authority to administer and enforce these laws with respect to such services.
The Act affirms the jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples, including First Nation, Inuit and Métis child over family services; establishes national principles namely the best interests of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality to guide the interpretation and administration of the Act; and contributes to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
As of January 1, 2020, existing child and family services agencies will continue to provide services to Indigenous children. However, every person providing services to Indigenous children will need to follow the minimum standards found in the Act, and any community wishing to exercise jurisdiction can provide notice or enter into coordination agreements with the federal and provincial governments. Between January 1, 2020 and until an Indigenous group exercise their jurisdiction, existing agencies will continue to provide services to Indigenous children.
Agreements related to existing delegated agencies will remain valid and in force unless the parties to the agreement decide otherwise. The Act provides that agreements in relation to child and family services between Indigenous groups and federal, provincial, or territorial governments that predate the coming-into-force of the Act prevail in case of conflict. If Indigenous groups are at discussions tables to conclude agreements, they can still exercise jurisdiction under the framework of the Act if they choose to do so. Indigenous groups could continue working with delegated agencies, or could create their own service model.
Depending on their chosen service delivery model, Indigenous groups may take measures to end or renegotiate their contract with the delegated agency providing services to their children.
To facilitate the transition toward the coming-into-force of the Act and its subsequent implementation, please find attached an information package on the Act.
We encourage you to share this information package with anyone seeking more information on the Act.
If you have any concerns and/or questions, please contact Isabelle Quintal at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Child and Family Services Reform Team
Indigenous Services Canada