Beginning on October 25, 2021, Dayna Steinfeld is appearing in the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench as co-counsel for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) in a case challenging the Manitoba government’s enactment of section 231 of The Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act (BITSA).
Section 231 of BITSA legislatively immunizes the Manitoba government from liability for taking more than $335 million of federal Children’s Special Allowance funds from Manitoba children in the child welfare system. In addition to extinguishing two existing court actions against the government, section 231 prohibits bringing any action, application or complaint and prohibits the granting of any remedy related to Manitoba’s actions.
Before the Court, AMC will argue that Manitoba, by enacting BITSA:
- infringes the core jurisdiction of the superior courts and breaches section 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867 by absolving itself from any liability and denying First Nations children in care the right to access the courts;
- denies First Nations children substantive equality and equal benefit of the law on the grounds of age, race, aboriginality-residence and family status, contrary to section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;
- denies First Nations the rights, benefits and opportunities promised to First Nations children in care by Canada pursuant to s. 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867 and has therefore passed law that is beyond the province’s constitutional authority; and
- violates the honour of the Crown and breaches its fiduciary duty owed to First Nations children in care.
The case is being heard from October 25 to 29, 2021.