First Nations child welfare case adjourns, judge reserves decision

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OTTAWA — Lawyers have wrapped up their arguments today in a Federal Court case challenging a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that ordered Ottawa to pay billions in compensation to First Nations children and their families.

The Liberal government, which is appealing the tribunal’s decision, had its lawyers ask the Federal Court to stay the order requiring Ottawa to pay $40,000 to every First Nations child who was inappropriately taken away from their parents after 2006.

Justice Department lawyer Robert Frater said today Canada agrees its actions were discriminatory and that the government will compensate the children and their families.

But Frater called the human rights tribunal’s specific compensation directive an unnecessarily invasive piece of surgery by the wrong doctors.

The government will instead pursue settlement for First Nations families who were inappropriately split apart by the child welfare system through a settlement in a separate class-action lawsuit brought earlier this year.

Federal Court Justice Paul Favel says he is reserving judgment on the case, but plans to deliver his decision as soon as possible.

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