Manitoba children's advocate now free to review Tina Fontaine case: minister

WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's family services minister says the children's advocate is now free to investigate whether the child-welfare system failed a Manitoba teen whose body was found in the Red River.

See Full Article

Kerri Irvin-Ross said the arrest of a suspect in Tina Fontaine's killing means the advocate can move forward with her review, which could be made public if new legislation is in place by then.

The report should be able to answer "what did the system do or not do to support Tina," Irvin-Ross said Tuesday.

"If the children's advocate perceives that this is a document that she wants to share, she will be able to share it," Irvin-Ross said. "It will answer many questions that Manitobans have had."

Children's advocate Darlene MacDonald was unavailable for comment, but spokeswoman Ainsley Krone said MacDonald will meet with police soon to discuss when she can move forward.

"We want to ensure we are not interfering in any way with any criminal proceedings as we conclude our review," Krone said.

Raymond Cormier, 53, was arrested last week and charged with second-degree murder in Tina's death. Her body was found wrapped in a bag in the Red River on Aug. 17, 2014.

Cormier waived a court appearance Tuesday and the case was put over to Jan. 8. His lawyer, Pam Smith, said her client will fight the charges.

Tina had only been in Winnipeg a couple of weeks after leaving her great-aunt's home on the Sagkeeng First Nation, about 70 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

She was in the care of Child and Family Services, but police said Tina became an exploited youth in the Manitoba capital. They say she met Cormier at a residence they both frequented.

Court documents allege Tina was killed around Aug. 10, 2014 -- 10 days after she was first reported missing from foster care. Police picked her up two days before it's believed she was killed, but did not take her into custody.

Tina's family has said she was found a few hours later, passed out in a downtown alley, and taken to hospital. She was picked up by social workers and placed in a downtown hotel, but ran away again shortly before she was killed.

Irvin-Ross said the office of the children's advocate automatically investigates when a child dies in care, but the Fontaine investigation was on hold while police searched for a suspect. The province did its own internal review and has made changes since then, she said.

It has ended the practice of housing children in hotels, expanded facilities available for high-risk girls and supported an indigenous-led prevention program on Fontaine's reserve.

"We started our work immediately of what can we do to better support children within our system," Irvin-Ross said.

Critics say much more must be done. Ian Wishart, a Progressive Conservative legislature member, pointed to a recent Winnipeg police report which found 83 per cent of 550 missing persons reports officers dealt with involved kids in government care.

"That has not changed," he said. "Instead of running away from hotels, they're running away from group homes, but they're still running away.

"We still have a problem out there that we still need to deal with."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Record water levels in the Great Lakes leave businesses with sinking frustration

    Canada News CTV News
    Record water levels in the Great Lakes and surrounding rivers have left some businesses scrambling as the tourist season is in full swing. Owners of the Thousand Islands Playhouse, a theatre in Gananoque, Ont. Source
  • Uber's new electric bikes hit roadblocks in Montreal

    Canada News CTV News
    Montreal is the first Canadian city to introduce Uber JUMP, a fleet of pedal-assisted electric bikes that can be locked at any bike rack across the city. But just weeks after the ride-sharing program launched, users have already been accused of thwarting the rules of the road. Source
  • U.S. imposes strict travel limits on Iran's UN diplomats

    World News CBC News
    The U.S. is tightly limiting travel by Iranian officials visiting or assigned to the United Nations, sparking concern from the world body. Representatives to the UN from Iran and some other countries have long had some limitations on their movements. Source
  • Maskwacis RCMP investigate deaths of toddlers found in body of water

    Canada News CTV News
    MASKWACIS, Alta. - Alberta RCMP are investigating the deaths of a young brother and sister found in a body of water on private property near Maskwacis. Police began looking for the toddlers in the early evening on Wednesday. Source
  • Crowd chants 'send her back' as Trump rails against Ilhan Omar

    World News CTV News
    The crowd at a rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump in Greenville, N.C., broke into chants of “send her back” as the president railed against Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar Wednesday, days after he posted racist tweets about Omar and three of her fellow congresswomen. Source
  • 'Problem' bear terrorizes couple at remote N.W.T. lake

    Canada News CBC News
    A grizzly bear that terrorized a couple for roughly 12 hours on a remote lake in the Northwest Territories was known to be a problem, according to a territorial wildlife officer. The man and woman, who are originally from the U.S. Source
  • Protest erupts in New York after police officer avoids charges in Eric Garner chokehold case

    World News CBC News
    Several hundred people took to the streets of New York on Wednesday to protest a decision by the U.S. Department of Justice not to bring federal charges against a police officer accused in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man in 2014. Source
  • 'Hey Eric Trump': Ontario man calls out U.S. president's son for using child's image in tweet

    World News CBC News
    An Ontario man is calling out a member of the Trump family for using an image of his young son as part of a political attack on those opposing the American president. Jeremy Rupke says Donald Trump's son Eric showed "disrespect" and lack of forethought when he included an image of four-year-old Mason Rupke in a recent social media broadside against Democrats. Source
  • National rules needed for emotional-service animals: Rempel

    Canada News CBC News
    A Conservative MP says she would like to see national standards on the right to have emotional-service animals in public spaces after watching her husband encounter numerous barriers while travelling in Canada with his dog, Midas. Source
  • 320,000 litres of oil and produced water spills at Alberta facility

    Canada News CTV News
    SWAN HILLS, Alta. - A large spill of crude oil and produced water at a Cardinal Energy facility near Swan Hills is being cleaned up. The Alberta Energy Regulator has few details about Saturday's spill on its compliance reporting website. Source