Dioceses will pay less in new schools agreement

By on March 9, 2006

The Anglican Church of Canada’s revised residential schools agreement with the federal government will reduce the financial commitments of General Synod and the dioceses by almost 40 per cent, according to Ellie Johnson, former acting general secretary, in a report to a meeting of Partners in Mission (PIM) in February. Under the revised agreement, which will be submitted to the new Cabinet for approval on March 31, the maximum Anglican contribution would be $15.7 million, divided into: $5.7 million in compensation payments, $4.96 million in in-kind services or healing projects, and up to $4.96 million for healing projects to match the fundraising of the Roman Catholic entities. In 2003, the federal government and the Anglican church negotiated an agreement that committed the church to a cap of $25 million in compensation but a clause in that agreement allowed the church to reopen its negotiations since a deal reached recently by the Roman Catholic church is more favorable. Last November, the government announced it would compensate all students who were part of the national boarding school system aimed at educating native children. Also announced was an agreement that would release Roman Catholic entities that ran schools from legal liability, but would commit them to funding $54 million in healing programs for aboriginals. “Once a diocese has reached 60.972 per cent required under the Anglican Amending Agreement, then no further payments will be required,” wrote Ms. Johnson, who has resumed her position as director of the Anglican Church of Canada’s partnerships department, in a written report to PIM. “Dioceses that have overpaid will receive a refund. This refund will not be issued until the final agreement comes into force.” So far, nine out of 30 dioceses – Fredericton, Quebec, Moosonee, Athabasca, Calgary, Edmonton, Caledonia, Cariboo, and the Yukon – have paid their commitments as specified in the previous 2003 agreement and will be entitled to a refund once the revised accord comes into force. Under the revised agreement, the government will assume full responsibility for paying 100 per cent of compensation awards, wrote Ms. Johnson, “so that money raised by Anglicans can be directed to fund healing projects, thus enabling our church to expand its work in healing and reconciliation.” Until the revised agreement is finalized, possibly in late 2006 or early 2007, Ms. Johnson said the Anglican church will continue to honor its obligation to pay 30 per cent of all validated abuse claims. “However, because under the final Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the government has undertaken to pay 100 per cent of all future settlements, our compensation payments made after Nov. 20, 2005 will be refunded,” she said in her report. The Anglican church anticipates a refund of up to $3 million, which will be channeled through the Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation for healing projects and programs. “This amount then becomes part of the $4.96 million required for in-kind work,” she said. Earlier in January, bishops and diocesan chancellors had endorsed the agreement. Once the Cabinet formed by new Prime Minister Stephen Harper approves the revised agreement, approval by the courts in seven jurisdictions across Canada will be sought between April to June/July. An “opt-out” period of four to six months for claimants who do not wish to receive the Common Experience Payment provided for in the new agreement begins in August. The “opt-out clause” in the new agreement states that if 5,000 or more claimants decide not to accept the payment, the agreement becomes null and void. Ms. Johnson has said that if the amended agreement does not come into full force, the Anglican church and the federal government would simply revert back to the March 2003 agreement. The new Anglican healing fund will make grant allocations using criteria similar to those of the Indigenous Healing Fund. It will receive applications from aboriginal communities and organizations, as well as from Anglican dioceses across Canada.

Author

  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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