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

  • Trudeau says he was informed of Fortin investigation 'a number of weeks ago'

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he found out about the investigation into Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who had been the public face of the vaccine distribution drive, a few weeks ago, but not the details of the sexual misconduct allegations. Source
  • Federal government invests $200 million to build an mRNA vaccine plant in Ontario

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government today announced a $200-million investment to help a Mississauga, Ont.-based company build a plant that can churn out millions of mRNA vaccines. Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the money will be used to expand an existing site owned by Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. Source
  • Feds investing nearly $200M in Mississauga, Ont. plant to mass produce vaccines

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The federal government will invest almost $200 million in Mississauga, Ont.-based Resilience Biotechnologies to eventually be able to mass produce vaccines domestically. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Tuesday, stating that the money will go toward creating and maintaining 500 jobs and 50 co-op positions for young people “to get their foot in the door in a growing sector. Source
  • Massive fire north of Prince Albert, Sask., is threatening farms and acreages

    Canada News CBC News
    Harold Fisher is wondering if he'll have a home to go back to. Fisher had to evacuate his farm late Monday evening because of a large fire raging north of Prince Albert, Sask., about 135 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. Source
  • 'Sheerness when wet': Joe Fresh recalls boys, toddler swim shorts out of 'abundance of caution'

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Loblaws' Joe Fresh clothing brand is voluntarily recalling swim shorts for boys and toddlers over concerns about the sheerness of the trunks’ fabric when wet. Joe Fresh said in a recall notice posted online that there are no safety concerns with the products. Source
  • Ikea recalls select dishes due to risk of breakage and burns

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ikea Canada has issued a recall for select dishes after the company received reports of some of these products breaking, leading to a possible burn risk. In a notice issued on Tuesday, Ikea Canada said it was recalling the Heroisk and Talrika style plates, bowls, and mugs "due to the potential risk of burns from hot contents upon breakage. Source
  • Container ship is the largest of its kind to visit Canada: Halifax Port Authority

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Port officials in Halifax say the largest container ship to visit a Canadian port has arrived at the city's south-end container terminal. A spokesman for the Port of Halifax says the CMA CGM Marco Polo is 396 metres long and can carry the equivalent of 16,022 containers that are each 20-feet long. Source
  • Investing in new coal, oil and gas projects must stop to hit climate goals, global energy agency says

    World News CBC News
    A report by the International Energy Agency says immediate action is needed to reshape the world's energy sector in order to meet ambitious climate goals by 2050, including ending investments in new coal mines, oil and gas wells. Source
  • Quebec reports 549 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec has 549 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 364,396 since the start of the pandemic. The province's health officials also confirmed nine more deaths, a total of 11,050 after it was ruled one death was not related to COVID-19. Source
  • Israel resumes airstrikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fire more rockets into Israel

    World News CBC News
    Israel bombarded Gaza with airstrikes and Palestinian militants resumed cross-border rocket fire on Tuesday after a brief overnight lull during which the United Nations sent a small fuel convoy into the enclave, where it says 52,000 people are now displaced. Source