Manitoba

Feds to vote on bill inspired by Manitoba native boy's death

Members of Parliament are expected to do something Wednesday evening they rarely do: unanimously pass a private member's bill, in this case one named for a Manitoba child who suffered from a rare neuromuscular disorder.

Members of Parliament are expected to do something Wednesday evening they rarely do: unanimously pass a private member's bill, in this case one named for a Manitoba child who suffered from a rare neuromuscular disorder.

The motion, called "Jordan's Principle," is based on the experiences of a toddler who was the subject of a two-year battle between federal and provincial agencies.

Jordan was moved off the Norway House Cree Nation reserve in 1999 for treatment in a Winnipeg hospital.Two years later, he was medically ready to be placed into specialized foster care— but that never happened due to an intergovernmental dispute over who would pay for his ongoing care.

Jordan died at age four, having lived the last days of his life in an institution.

The governments involved resolved the case after his death.

Wednesday's motion asks the government to adopt a "child first" principle in resolving disputes involving First Nations children.In adopting such a principle, for example, Jordan would have been placed into foster care with one government paying while it worked out payment arrangements with others.

Ernest Anderson, Jordan's father, who travelled to Ottawa to raise awareness of the motion, said he fears the non-binding motion will be little more than a moral victory.

Anderson said he hopes the federal government will follow up with clear rules to ensure governments pay for kids first— and settle cash disputes later. Otherwise, Jordan's Principle will be little more than a moral victory, he said.

Crystal Hart, the mother of a disabled daughter who lives at Norway House, was also in Ottawa. Her band is struggling to find a permanent funding solution for services such as respite care for her daughter.

"I'm hoping it will be a turnaround for all families with disabled kids, or anyone with disabilities, to get help," she told CBC News.

"It would mean a great deal, because with my daughter, she's disabled, and we'll have respite for us… within the family, as a family setting, to get someone to help us with her."

A recent study of 12 native agencies found that almost 400 children were caught in similar disputes in a single year.

With files from the Canadian Press

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