January 22, 2020
WINNIPEG - Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, says the PCs must stop making excuses and finalize legislation to expand the powers of the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth.
Currently, the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth's scope is limited to Manitoba children who have been involved with CFS in the previous 12 months. The PCs already brought in and voted on legislation to expand the Advocate's role - but haven't proclaimed it.
Proclaiming the "Phase 2 and 3" of the Advocate's powers would allow for investigations into how Manitoba's mental health, addictions and justice system may have failed people under 18. Manitoba has some of the highest youth incarceration rates in Canada.
"We have families asking the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth to investigate why the system failed their children, and she has to turn them down," said Lamont. "Every child in Manitoba deserves a voice, and that is why this legislation empowering the Manitoba Advocate needs to be proclaimed now."
Lamont added the PCs are following in the footsteps of the NDP by dragging their heels implementing recommendations on improving childcare that are more than a decade old. The PCs are blaming the introduction of a new federal CFS bill, C-92, for "uncertainty" around child welfare, but Manitoba Liberals say the Pallister Government is deliberately misleading Manitobans.
Bill C-92 allows Indigenous communities to apply to take over child welfare at their own pace and sets up negotiations for the transfer of responsibility as well as funding.
By contrast, the new powers of the Manitoba Advocate the PCs are refusing to proclaim would apply to all children in Manitoba, whether they are in care or not.
"If the PCs are truly worried about the impacts of Bill C-92, it is even more important that that immediately proclaim the legislation," said Lamont. "The NDP is not in charge anymore and if this doesn't happen, it is on the PCs heads."