Church leaders met in March with Deputy Prime Minister Herb Gray and his aides – another in a series of meetings aimed at resolving the residential schools crisis, but the discussion produced no agreement, said Archdeacon Jim Boyles, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“I wish there were better news to report,” said Mr. Boyles. As previously reported in the Journal, church leaders are expressing dismay with the slow pace of talks as church finances continue to deteriorate.
Four churches – Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United – are seeking an agreement with the government that would relieve them of liability in the hundreds of lawsuits filed by native Canadians alleging abuse in the now-closed boarding school system.
Government representatives are “aware of the urgency” of the situation, said Mr. Boyles, noting that the diocese of Cariboo and General Synod itself are close to insolvency. Media reports indicate government representatives have proposed a plan that would see the Anglican church pay about $95 million as its share of legal settlements and healing, with the government shouldering any additional amounts. However, several Anglican clergy have pointed out that the church’s revenues are donated.
“The government is moving slowly to an understanding of the structure of the church as a voluntary organization. I continue to be concerned about the pace of the discussions,” Mr. Boyles said.