By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – A lawsuit against the Manitoba government alleges the province has held back $266 million from half a dozen First Nations and Metis child-welfare agencies.
The agencies claim the government is unilaterally holding back 20 per cent of funding and they are asking the courts to order the practice stopped.
Harold Cochrane, the lawyer representing the child-welfare agencies, says the province is clawing back the money and putting it into general revenue.
The agencies allege the province wanted them to hand over their special allowance payments from the federal government.
They say that when they wouldn’t do that, the Tory government reduced their payments up to $40 million a year.
Families Minister Scott Fielding says other parts of Western Canada use a similar approach.
He says it’s a policy that was inherited from the previous NDP government and the province is working to reform child welfare.
“We do spend close to $500 million of funding and the child maintenance funds to pay for things like food, for recreation, for shelter, for things like recreational purposes,” Fielding said.