OTTAWA - The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal begins hearings into a major case this morning about federal financing for First Nations child welfare.
After years of legal wrangling, the tribunal will hear from the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations about why they believe Ottawa discriminates against First Nations children.
They say the federal government has persistently provided far less money for welfare on reserves than provincial governments provide to children off-reserve, further penalizing a vulnerable population that desperately needs help.
Ottawa has argued that the case should not be heard at all because it's not fair to compare federal programs to provincial programs.
Federal officials also say they have been putting more money into First Nations child welfare and reorienting their programs to focus on keeping families together.
Researchers say there are now far more aboriginal children in institutional care than there were at the height of the residential school era.