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

  • Deaths of doctors, nurses highlight virus risks they run

    World News CTV News
    ROME -- Air raid sirens sounded across China and flags flew at half staff in a tribute Saturday to victims of the coronavirus pandemic including the health care "martyrs" who have died while fighting to save others. Source
  • Trump fires watchdog who handled complaint that triggered impeachment

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has fired the intelligence watchdog who handled the complaint that triggered his impeachment. Trump informed the Senate intelligence committee Friday of his decision to fire Michael Atkinson, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Source
  • Trump fires watchdog who handled whistleblower complaint that triggered impeachment

    World News CBC News
    U.S. President Donald Trump has fired the intelligence watchdog who handled the complaint that triggered his impeachment. Trump informed the Senate intelligence committee Friday of his decision to fire Michael Atkinson, according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press. Source
  • Another member of fire panel resigns, criticizes PG&E plan

    World News CTV News
    BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The former chief financial officer for a Northern California city destroyed in a 2018 wildfire caused by Pacific Gas & Electric equipment is trying to upend the utility's plan for getting out of bankruptcy because she believes the company is shortchanging the people devastated by its misconduct. Source
  • Alberta health minister used confidential information to call protesting doctors

    Canada News CBC News
    When Dr. John Julyan-Gudgeon went to a hospital event to protest health-care cuts, he didn't expect it to lead to an after-hours phone call on his personal cellphone from the health minister. But that's exactly what happened. The doctor attended a provincial funding announcement at the Red Deer Regional Hospital on Feb. Source
  • Judge demands FBI provide new details about its surveillance

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The chief judge of a secretive national security court demanded Friday that the FBI provide him with details about some of its investigations after the Justice Department inspector general identified problems with more than two dozen wiretap applications. Source
  • Major credit card companies raise tap limit to $250 to help cut spread of COVID-19

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Major credit card companies have increased their tap limit to $250 to help customers who want to make less physical contact while shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. MasterCard and Visa raised the tap limits from $100 to $250 and the Retail Council of Canada is hoping that Interac will soon follow. Source
  • 'Always new expenses': Lawsuits filed as anniversary of Broncos bus crash nears

    Canada News CBC News
    It's been almost two years since the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash in Saskatchewan and with the solemn anniversary comes a closing legal window that has seen several lawsuits filed in court. Sixteen people died and 13 others were injured after a transport truck barrelled through a stop sign and into the path of the bus carrying the junior hockey team on April 6, 2018. Source
  • Ontario premier slams Donald Trump's decision to cease exports of N95 masks to Canada

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ontario Premier Doug Ford has slammed United States President Donald Trump's decision to cease exports of manufacturing giant 3M's N95 face masks to Canada. "I just can't stress how disappointed I am at President Trump for making this decision," Ford said at Queen’s Park on Friday. Source
  • Relatives of the Kennedy family reported missing after canoe ride in Maryland

    World News CTV News
    Authorities were searching Friday for the daughter and a grandson of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend after a canoe they were paddling in the Chesapeake Bay didn't return to shore. Gov. Larry Hogan identified the missing relatives as Maeve Kennedy Townsend McKean, 40, and McKean's 8-year-old son, Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean. Source