Jordan's Principle

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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 all public services in a way that is reflective of their distinct cultural needs, takes full account of the historical disadvantage linked to colonization, and 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. 

In November 2016, the Caring Society, Assembly of First Nations, and interested parties (Chiefs of Ontario and Nishnawbe Aski Nation) filed motions stating that Canada has failed to comply with the Tribunal’s ruling and remedial orders. Three days of hearings on the non-compliance motions were held in March, 2017. On May 26, 2017, the Tribunal found that the Government of Canada has continued "its pattern of conduct and narrow focus with respect to Jordan's Principle," resulting in unnecessary and unlawful bureaucratic delays, gaps and denial of essential public services to First Nations children. As such, the Tribunal issued a third set of non-compliance orders. Please click here for a summary of the May, 2017, non-compliance orders.