Federal offer to reform First Nations child and family services worth $47B, sources say

The federal government's offer to finalize reform of First Nations child and family services is worth $47 billion over 10 years, a source involved in the negotiations tells CBC News.

Two other sources, who were present for a closed-door session Tuesday afternoon at the Assembly of First Nations's annual general assembly in Montreal, also said the proposed settlement is worth more than $45 billion.

CBC News is not identifying the sources because they were not authorized to discuss the confidential settlement talks or in-camera proceedings.

AFN National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak revealed the offer's existence in her opening speech to the delegates Tuesday morning and called it a "fair offer," but didn't provide specifics.

A spokesperson for the national chief wouldn't comment on the reported value of the offer and neither would Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

In a statement, ISC indicated that a final settlement has not yet been reached.

"Reaching an agreement with the First Nations parties would represent a major milestone in the long-term reform of the program and would advance our ongoing commitment to ensure discrimination ends, wrote ISC spokesperson Anispiragas Piragasanathar.

The offer would finalize an agreement-in-principle worth $20 billion over five years that was reached in 2021. A separate but related deal to compensate survivors of the chronically underfunded child welfare system on-reserve and in Yukon was also reached in 2022, and later approved at $23 billion.

The two deals together form an umbrella settlement aimed at resolving a long-standing complaint at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, brought by Cindy Blackstock and the AFN in 2007.

The complaint, which the tribunal upheld in 2016, alleged the underfunding of child and family services amounted to systemic racial discrimination. The tribunal ordered Canada to pay each victim and some family members $40,000, the maximum amount allowed under human rights law, to compensate them for their pain and suffering.

Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, said Tuesday some projections estimate the reform settlement could cost $51 billion on the low end and $57 billion on the higher end.

Issues around the implementation of Jordan's Principle, a program that ensures First Nations kids get access to essential health products and services without delays tied to jurisdictional disputes, remain outstanding before the human rights tribunal.