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

  • Ont. teen subject of Amber Alert wasn't actually abducted, police say

    Canada News CTV News
    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - Police in Peel Region west of Toronto say a 15-year-old girl who was the subject of an Amber Alert on Monday was not kidnapped as initially suspected. The alert had cited witnesses as saying the girl had been forced into a van in Mississauga by two men. Source
  • Okla. shooting victim saved by plate in neck: investigators

    World News CTV News
    TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Investigators say a metal plate in an Oklahoma man's neck saved him from paralysis or worse when he was shot. Robert Thurman told 911 dispatchers Friday that his sister Gretchen Thurman shot him, The Tahlequah Daily Press reported. Source
  • South Korean court denies request to arrest Samsung Group chief

    World News CBC News
    A South Korean court on Thursday denied a special prosecutor clearance to arrest the head of Samsung Group, the country's largest conglomerate, amid a graft scandal that has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Source
  • Virginia man who killed noted musician and his family is executed

    World News CBC News
    Virginia has executed a man convicted of killing two young girls and their parents during a New Year's Day home invasion more than 11 years ago. Authorities say 39-year-old Ricky Gray was pronounced dead at 9:42 p.m. Source
  • Alaska volcano erupts again, sends ash cloud to 31,000 feet

    World News CTV News
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska - An Alaska volcano active since mid-December has erupted again. Bogoslof Volcano in the Aleutian lslands erupted at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday and sent up an ash cloud estimated at 31,000 feet. The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the aviation threat code to red, the highest level. Source
  • Hardworking Winnipeg server gets life-changing $1,000 tip

    Canada News CTV News
    A Winnipeg restaurant server thought one of her customers was out to lunch when she received a life-changing $1,000 tip on Saturday. Jennifer Peitsch choked back tears of joy as she asked if the woman’s extravagant gratuity on an $87.15 meal at Mongo’s Grill was indeed real. Source
  • Dramatic video shows two armed robberies in central Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    Two separate, but equally frightening, armed robberies were caught by surveillance cameras in central Alberta. During the past month there have been a number of armed robberies in the area, which are being investigated by RCMP. Source
  • So long from White House: Obama aims final messages at Trump

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — Barack Obama stepped behind the White House podium for the last time Wednesday, fielding questions from the crush of journalists crammed in for the occasion and offering assurances to Americans watching on TV. But at times, his answers seemed aimed at an audience of one: the man who will replace him at noon Friday. Source
  • PM Trudeau should protect Kathy Katula from trolls: Tory MP

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Justin Trudeau must protect real Canadians like Kathy Katula from Liberal trolls and haters, a Conservative MP says. Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre came to the aid of Katula — the 54-year-old Buckhorn, Ont. grandmother who made headlines for her emphatic plea to the PM to not pile the carbon tax onto her as she’s already towing the poverty line — and said Trudeau needs to as well. Source
  • WikiLeaks' Julian Assange backs away from extradition pledge

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange retreated from his pledge to accept extradition to the U.S. if Chelsea Manning was granted clemency, arguing Wednesday via his lawyers that what he was really asking for was an immediate pardon for the ex-Army analyst. Source