Manitoba chiefs concerned new funding model for CFS could misapply funds meant for First Nations children
As part of changes, federal children's special allowance would be retained by agencies
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it is worried the province's newly announced block funding of provincial child and family services authorities could wrongfully reallocate funds meant for First Nations children to the CFS authorities and agencies.
Earlier this week, Manitoba Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced the province is switching to "single envelope" or block funding of Child and Family Services authorities instead of making per-child payments.
This means Manitoba's four CFS authorities will decide how to allocate the money to the 24 child welfare agencies that deliver services to children and families.
The agencies will also retain the federal children's special allowance, distributed by Ottawa to provincial organizations that care for children, Stefanson said, as part of the new model.
In a statement released Wednesday, acting Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Glenn Hudson of Peguis First Nation said the AMC believes those federal monies should go straight to First Nations, so they can apply their own First Nations family laws to help keep children with their families and within their communities.
"The AMC cannot support any provincial measure that continues to wrongfully take monies meant for First Nations children to bolster and fund a provincial system," he said in the statement.
"Provincially designed and imposed decisions continually miss the mark in reforming what's known as the Manitoba humanitarian crisis of child welfare."
Asked to respond, a provincial spokesperson said that retaining the children's special allowance will allow agencies more autonomy and control over financial decisions to support children in care.
Concerns over underfunding
In the statement, the AMC also raised concerns that the new funding model would leave some agencies under-funded.
Stefanson has dismissed concerns that the changes will result in a funding deficit for participating agencies, saying the new model will provide predictability and independence to authorities and agencies, and should result in in more funds being available for authorities within the CFS system.
More than 10,700 children were in care in Manitoba as of March 31, 2018. Almost 90 per cent were Indigenous. The province has the highest per-capita rate of children in care in Canada and apprehends about one newborn a day.
The current per-child funding model means most agencies get funding based on the number of children in care and the number of days they are in care.
The provincial government says that system incentivizes apprehensions in order to provide services.