Watchdog accuses Manitoba child welfare agencies of breaking law by ignoring relatives

WINNIPEG - The children's advocate for Manitoba First Nations says some child-welfare agencies are breaking the law and discriminating against indigenous family members.

See Full Article

Cora Morgan says the agencies are ignoring capable relatives who could care for apprehended children and instead choose to place them in a stranger's care.

Morgan says a mother in labour at a hospital last week called her because Child and Family Services was waiting to take her baby boy. The parents are struggling with addiction and are enrolled in treatment.

A great-aunt - who is already an approved foster parent - was ready to take the baby, but he was placed somewhere else, Morgan says.

"It's devastating enough to have your children taken ... (but) there was hope for that family. They could live with it a bit better knowing that a family member was caring for their child," the advocate said Tuesday.

"A lot of parents don't even meet the foster parents where their children are placed."

The law requires agencies that apprehend children to give priority to family members, but Morgan said that isn't happening. She said one woman was told by social workers that there was no one suitable on her reserve to foster her child. They said the reserve "was no place for children."

The NDP government recently outlined a plan to formalize the practice of customary care in which a child at risk of apprehension is placed with a family member in their community.

There are no repercussions for agencies who ignore the law and the principles of customary care, Morgan said.

"There is nothing that reinforces that in any way. There is no way an agency is held accountable. There should be checks and balances in place, especially in the case of newborn babies."

Manitoba has one of the highest child apprehension rates in the country and officials seize an average of one newborn baby a day. The province has more than 10,000 kids in care. The vast majority are indigenous.

The province's child-welfare system has come under sharp criticism for years, sometimes for being too quick to apprehend kids or for repeatedly returning them to abusive parents.

Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said the government can't second-guess decisions made by front-line workers.

"An apprehension is a last resort," she said. "We know keeping a child within their family unit, as well as keeping them with their community, will have a better outcome. That has to be our priority."

Irvin-Ross couldn't say what, if anything, the government can do to ensure child-welfare groups comply with the law. It's up to individual agencies to properly assess a family's situation, she said.

Opposition critic Ian Wishart said that approach is an abdication of responsibility. His office often hears about children being placed in foster homes when there are other options, he said.

With so many children in care, Wishart said, it's incumbent upon Irvin-Ross to ensure the law is being followed.

"She's in charge," he said. "She sets the policy guidelines for these workers. It's a lack of leadership issue."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Christopher Columbus statue toppled by Baltimore protesters

    World News CTV News
    BALTIMORE -- Baltimore protesters pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus and threw it into the city's Inner Harbor on Saturday night. Demonstrators used ropes to topple the monument near the Little Italy neighbourhood, news outlets reported. Source
  • Two Americans charged with breaking Canada's quarantine rules

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Two Americans have been fined for breaking Canada's COVID-19 quarantine rules after being spotted multiple times in an Ontario town, police say. Ontario Provincial Police officers in the Rainy River District, which runs along the Canada-U.S. Source
  • 2 dead, 8 hurt in South Carolina nightclub shooting

    World News CBC News
    A shooting at a South Carolina nightclub left two people dead and eight wounded, a sheriff's official said. Two Greenville County sheriff's deputies noticed a disturbance at Lavish Lounge just before 2 a.m., and saw a large crowd running out of the building, Sheriff Hobart Lewis said at a news conference. Source
  • Rocket fired toward U.S. Embassy in Iraq injures child

    World News CTV News
    BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi military said Sunday that a rocket aimed at Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, home of the U.S. Embassy, struck a residential house and injured a child. Iraqi officials said the embassy's recently installed C-RAM air defence system may have attempted to intercept the rocket as the system was operational late Saturday. Source
  • Sheriff: 2 dead, 8 hurt in South Carolina nightclub shooting

    World News CTV News
    GREENVILLE, S.C. -- A sheriff's official said a shooting at a nightclub early Sunday left two people dead and eight wounded in South Carolina. Two Greenville County sheriff's deputies noticed a disturbance at Lavish Lounge just before 2 a.m. Source
  • Flooding in southern Japan leaves up to 34 dead

    World News CBC News
    Deep floodwaters and the risk of more mudslides that left at least 34 people confirmed or presumed dead hampered search and rescue operations Sunday in southern Japan, including at elderly home facilities where more than a dozen died and scores were still stranded. Source
  • 1 of 2 protesters hit by car on closed Seattle highway dies

    World News CTV News
    SEATTLE -- A car drove onto a closed freeway early Saturday and struck two people in a crowd protesting against police brutality, killing one and critically injuring the other, authorities said. Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died in the evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokesperson Susan Gregg said. Source
  • Canadian Red Cross goes completely electronic amid COVID-19 pandemic

    Canada News CBC News
    The COVID-19 pandemic has launched the Canadian Red Cross into transferring funds electronically to those they support. In the past, when people turned to the Red Cross after major natural disasters, floods or house fires, they were given a voucher or a preloaded credit card. Source
  • Schools urged to ensure students' security and privacy when conducting classes online

    Canada News CBC News
    As most parts of Canada are gradually reopening their economies following months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some provinces — including Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick — have released plans on how they aim to allow students to return to the classroom in September. Source
  • A tale of 2 cities: Venice residents are torn between mass tourism and a more harmonious existence

    World News CBC News
    Francesco Penzo stands straddling a sandolo, a low boat Venetians once used for shooting ducks. He manoeuvres a long paddle deep into the water, steering the vessel around the corner of a canal in the former working-class neighbourhood of Cannaregio, the only sound the creaking of wood and birdsong echoing above. Source