Social Services

The work of the Social Services Coordination Unit (SSCU), under the Chiefs of Ontario, is an ongoing and dedicated effort to improve the quality of service and care for First Nations citizens according to First Nations customs and values.

First Nations have long maintained that the gross disparity in the resources provided for First Nation child welfare services versus Canadian children must be addressed, especially as there are more Indigenous children in care today than at the height of the residential school regime.

The Social Services Coordination Unit (SSCU) is a technical and advisory body operating under the Chiefs of Ontario. It provides advice, guidance, and recommendations to the Political Confederacy and the Chiefs in Ontario on initiatives pertaining to 1965 Welfare Agreement, Ontario Works, Child and Family Services, Daycare, and Homemakers services. Under the 4 major programs there are 30+ sub-programs.

The SSCU was set up to support First Nation participation in policy and program development of social services for their regions. The broad focus of the Unit is to:

  • Support the independent efforts of the PTO Social Units directed at assisting First Nations to develop social services for their communities; resolving issues between present legislation and regulations, and First Nation requirements for social services;
  • Develop strategies and policy/position papers on social services issues;
  • Support the consultation and negotiation processes for the attainment of First Nation control of social services;
  • Develop a working and information sharing relationship with other First Nation and non-Aboriginal social services organizations;
  • Regular intergovernmental liaising with federal and provincial governments to facilitate information access for First Nations.

The members of the SSCU is comprised of Social Services Directors from the Union of Ontario Indians, Grand Council Treaty #3, Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, one representative of the Independent First Nations and the Social Services Director from Six Nations of the Grand River.

Ontario Indian Social Services Council

The Ontario Indian Social Services Council (OISSC) is a technical and advisory body operating under the umbrella of the Chiefs of Ontario.  It is comprised of the Social Services Directors of the four associations, one representative of the Independent First Nations, and the Social Services Director from Six Nations of the Grand River.

The Ontario Indian Social Services Council (OISSC) is a technical and advisory body operating under the umbrella of the Chiefs of Ontario.  It is comprised of the Social Services Directors of the four associations, one representative of the Independent First Nations, and the Social Services Director from Six Nations of the Grand River.   The Council receives support through the coordinating capacity of the Chiefs of Ontario office.  OISSC is responsible to the Planning and Priorities Committee (PPC) of the Chiefs of Ontario.

The four associations or PTOs (Provincial and Territorial Organizations) established their own association social services units in the early 1980’s in support of a move towards Indian control over social services geared to First Nations.  The association social services units (ASSUs) were set up to support and facilitate First Nation participation in policy and program planning and development of social services for their respective regions. The association created the Council in 1982 to assist them in the promotion and coordination over Indian-related social services.

The broad mandate of the OISSC is as follows:

I.      To support the independent efforts of the ASSUs directed at:

    • Assisting First Nations to plan and develop social services for their communities;
    • Resolving issues between present legislation and regulations, and First Nation requirements for social services.

II.      To develop strategies and policy/position papers on social services issues;

III.      To support the consultation and negotiation processes for the attainment of First Nation control of social services;

IV.      To develop a working and information sharing relationship with other First Nation and non-Aboriginal social services organizations;

V.      To engage in regular intergovernmental liaison with federal and provincial government officials to facilitate information access for First Nations;

VI.      To report to the PPC regarding:

    • Conflicts between government policy, programs and legislation and First Nation initiatives in the social service area;

·        The development of strategies and position papers;

·        The resource requirements of the OISSC;

·        Any operational problems;

·        Overall progress of the OISSC.

  • Council is comprised of the Social Services Directors of the four provincial and territorial organizations (PTOs), Six Nations of the Grand River and a representative for the Independent First Nations.
  • Council is support and coordinated through the Chiefs of Ontario office by a senior policy analyst/coordinator and by additional policy analyst resources when available (please refer to organization chart).
  • Council reports its decisions and brings forward recommendations directly to the PPC of the Chiefs of Ontario.  For purposes of liaison the Chiefs Committee on Social Services communicates with Council upon request of either Council or the PPC.
  • Council will strive to operate on a consensus basis, in the interest of developing Ontario-wide positions on issues. Consensus is defined as agreement by all members of a group with regard to decisions or direction. In cases where consensus is not reached, recommendation will go forward, including the recommendation of the non-consenting party. The views of the non-consenting party will be made known.
  • Further, pursuant to All Chiefs Resolution #94/09, the autonomy of First Nations and regions to assert their own direction and pursue programs at their own pace will be respected by the Council. Regionalized approaches will not preclude coordination between regions where priorities, agendas, and approach are determined to be consistent and compatible with individual community initiatives.
  • Council members will play an active role in bringing forward and discussing issues, stating concerns relative to their communities and regions, and giving direction for purposes of formulating Council decision or recommendations.

I.      The Council will meet on a regular basis, to be determined by the members.  Policy Analyst/Coordinators from the Chiefs of Ontario are required to attend all meetings of the Council.

II.      A minimum of three (3) Directors or their designates will constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting meetings to discuss issues.   Council will make decisions on broad overarching issues by discussion and achieving consensus on Ontario-wide positions to take relative to these issues.  Where a coordinated and united position is not feasible due to regional differences, timing or priorities, the minutes and any recommendations/position papers will so reflect regional approaches.

III.      Meetings will be convened by the Senior Policy Analyst/Coordinator at the request of the Council members or the Coordinator, and the minutes of all meetings will be recorded.  The Senior Policy Analyst/Coordinator will notify absent Council members of all decisions made.

IV.      The reporting relationship on issues defined within the Council’s agenda is directly from Council to the PPC.  Individual Director’s accountability to their Executive Directors and Chiefs/Councils will be respected by the OISSC.  As noted under Principles, Council respects the autonomy of First Nations in asserting their own direction and approach to all issues and programs, including internal First Nation and regional processes for reporting on and ensuring accountability to communities on social services issues.

V.      The Council shall monitor expenditures related to social services initiatives and activity approved under the authority and management of the Council.  Monthly financial statements will be provided by the Chiefs of Ontario office to the Council for review.

Evaluation of the activity of the Council will take place prior to the end of each fiscal year.  Evaluation will be based on Council’s level of success in collectively achieving strategic goals and objectives as set out in a strategic plan.  An evaluation format will be developed by the Council in 1995-96 for this purpose.

Human Trafficking

This discussion paper highlights the need for ending sexual violence and sexual exploitation in First Nation communities.

READ THE DISCUSSION PAPER

The Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports Fund is available to community-focused anti-human trafficking organizations to address the short and long-term needs of survivors of human trafficking. This fund will help service providers deliver dedicated and specialized supports, prioritizing survivor-led programming and services for children and youth who have been sexually exploited.

LEARN MORE HERE

The Call for Applications on ontario.ca/getfunding has extended its deadline to August 7, 2020, to all applicants serving survivors of human trafficking that meet eligibility criteria, including agencies currently receiving CSF and ILIF funding.

LEARN MORE ABOUT APPLYING HERE

For technical difficulties with downloading application forms, or uploading your completed submission, please contact: TPON Client Care, available Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at:

  • Telephone: 416-325-6691 or 1-855-216-3090
  •  TTY/Teletypewriter (for the hearing impaired): 416-325-3408/Toll free 1-800-268-7095
  • Email: TPONCC@ontario.ca

For all other program-related questions, please contact our office at this email (antitrafficking@ontario.ca) or at 416-327-7010.

Human trafficking is a crime. A restraining order can be an important legal tool in protecting survivors and individuals at risk of being trafficked from the threat of exploitation and violence. Learn about what human trafficking is, what you can do to stop it and what help is available at www.Ontario.ca/HumanTrafficking.

Parents and guardians of a child survivor or a child at risk of being trafficked will also be eligible for free legal support. A restraining order can be filed any time after a survivor has been trafficked, regardless of how much time has passed.

To access services, please call the toll-free human trafficking helpline at 1-833-999-9211. TTY – 1-888-340-1001.

For more information on eligibility and the pilot program, please click below

READ THE HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGAL SUPPORT FACT SHEET

Child Welfare

Our Nations’ children are not only being failed through a lack of equal opportunities to education, but also through a lack of culturally appropriate and inadequately resourced child welfare structures to protect and keep our children in our communities.

There are many reasons why there are more First Nation children in care today as there were during the residential school era. The gross inequities of funding and resources deny First Nation families the same opportunities that are provided to other non First Nation families in Canada to safely care for their children. There is not enough funding provided to address the most important needs including prevention and family support. These services would provide the integral tools for families to heal and move forward to provide care for their own families in a culturally suitable manner. First Nations youth population is growing at such a rapid rate that it surpasses that of the growing population of both the province and the country, yet there continues to be a gross disparity in the resources provided for First Nation child welfare services.

Many children get tied up in the system, and even when parents have made the effort for improvement, administration and protocols prevent their children from immediately returning home.   Key to addressing these concerns is supporting the exercise of First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare and the implementation of customary care that suits each individual community needs.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) contains three Articles (Article 2, 7, 22) that relate directly to the protection of Indigenous children and their right to be free from any kind of discrimination.

In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) involving the inadequate funding of child welfare services on reserve. They are arguing that the Canadian government racially discriminates against First Nations children by not providing adequate funding of child welfare services on reserve, which are at levels less than what non-Aboriginal children have access to in the provinces and territories.

The Chiefs of Ontario has intervenor status on this complaint, the objective of which is to ensure that the special circumstances of First Nation child welfare in Ontario, including the impact of 1965 Welfare Agreement, are brought forward in the proceeding.

The CHRT ruling dismissed the complaint in March 2011, on the basis of legal technicalities.  The CHRT has refused to compare two different service providers (federal and provincial governments) who deliver services to two different service recipients (on reserve children and off reserve non-Aboriginal children).  A judicial review of the CHRT’s decision was brought to the Federal Court, who supported the positions taken by First Nations in April 2012, and overturned the original Tribunal ruling.

On May 18, 2012 the federal government filed a “Notice of Appeal” to the Federal Court of Canada. An appeal process could take up to approximately one year.  Updates on this very important and historic case will be provided as progress occurs.

This case raises important issues for First Nation child welfare programs, and  the federal delivery of First Nation programs as a whole, as it challenges the federal government under the Canadian Human Rights Act to meet provincial standards.

The report “Our Dreams Matter Too: First Nations children’s rights, lives, and education” compiles letters written by First Nations and non-First Nations youth voicing their concerns on the inequities which exist in education, child welfare, and support services for First Nations youth on reserve. Their concerns were shared with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to request a review of Canada’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and explore the inequities experienced by First Nations children.

In addition to letters from youth, the report shares observations on the impact of the inequities and recommendations to move forward.

1965 Welfare Agreement

The Federal and Provincial governments cost-share services to First Nations through the 1965 Indian Welfare Agreement.

This agreement requires INAC to reimburse Ontario 93 cents for every dollar of services provided to “status” Indians in the following areas:

  • Social assistance
  • Child & Family services
  • Child care
  • Homemaking

First Nations were not a signatory in this agreement which remains in effect today. Section 2 (2) does require consent from First Nations for any new programs, however the remainder of the agreement fully operates without consultation or consent from First Nations. First Nations have never given up their right of jurisdiction over the social well being of our communities despite existing programming’s failure to meet critical community needs.

60s Scoop

The Sixties Scoop is a term that refers to the Canadian practice of fostering or adopting out First Nations children at high rates into non-Indigenous families between the 1960s to the late 1980s.

It has been estimated that 16,000 Indigenous children were a part of the Sixties Scoop, who as a result, experienced a loss of cultural identity, their families, histories, and status.   The assimilationist practice was noted to have formally ended in the 1980s.

Marcia Brown and Robert Commanda have put forward a class action lawsuit against Canada on behalf of themselves and possibly 16,000 other Indigenous persons who were a part of the Scoop, charging that the loss of cultural identity caused significant suffering.   The case has been stalled for a year after it was certified by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice because Ottawa appealed the lawsuit.  The appeal hearing took place in a Toronto courtroom on October 28, 2011.

The Chiefs of Ontario affirmed their support for the Sixties Scoop litigation in 2008 through Resolution 08/92.  The resolution states that, “adopting out of First Nations children is a continuation of assimilation policies handed down by the provincial and federal governments of Canada.  These government policies have devastated First Nations families, children and culture.  First Nations continue to be tragically affected by the “adopting out” of their children, as evidenced by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada statistics from 1996 whereby 16,810 Treaty status children were adopted out to predominantly non-native families across Canada, the United States, and Europe.  The long term effects of the Sixties Scoop continue to be felt in every First Nation community across Canada as parents and children continue to deal with the devastating effects of lost relatives.  The federal and provincial governments are responsible for the intentional and systematic destruction of First Nation families and communities through assimilation policies and actions…”

Article 7 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that “Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.”

The purpose of the Sixties Scoop website is to notify individuals directly or indirectly affected by the Sixties Scoop that they may register and possibly join in the class action lawsuit. http://sixtiesscoopclaim.com/

Social Services Committee Members

  • Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians
  • Lawrence Baxter, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
  • Debbie Lipscombe, Grand Council Treaty #3
  • Stan Cloud, Association of Iroquois & Allied Indians
  • Arliss Skye, Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Adrienne Pelletier, Union of Ontario Indians
  • Diane Maracle-Nadjiwon, Independent First Nations
  • Michael Nadeau, Ontario Native Welfare Administrators Association
  • Theresa Stevens, Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario
  • Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose, Nishnawbe Aski Nation
  • Ogichidaa Warren White, Grand Council Treaty #3
  • Chief Sandra Moore, Hiawatha First Nation-Association of Iroquois & Allied Indians
  • Councilor Helen Miller, Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Chief Isadore Day, Serpent River First Nation-Union of Ontario Indians
  • Grand Chief Mike Mitchell, Mohawks of Akwesasne-Independent First Nations

Contact the Social Services Sector

Toronto Office
(416) 597-1266
Toll-Free: 1-877-517-6527

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