TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB - Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization (SCO) and Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface, say the PCs must withdraw two measures from the budget that are designed to shield the Manitoba Government from being held responsible for the mistreatment of children in care.
The PCs have introduced two "get out of jail free" clauses in their budget bill that deny people who have been wronged by the Manitoba Government for suing for compensation - with both cases involving vulnerable children in the care of Child and Family Services (CFS). Unlike other bills, budget bills don't go before committees for public hearings.
One budget measure seeks to shield the Provincial Government from being held responsible for clawing back tens of millions of dollars in benefits intended for children in care. The Manitoba Government is currently being sued by former wards of CFS to get their money back. If the budget passes, the lawsuit will effectively end and the PC Government will keep the money.
As the number of children in care rose to over 10,000 during the 2000's scoop, the Manitoba Government diverted more and more children's allowances into general revenue. Between 1999 and 2016, the NDP government diverted approximately $250-million. Since 2016, the PCs have diverted over $100-million.
In February, 2019, the Manitoba Government ordered the eviction of children's home where high-risk, high-needs children were being cared for. The home, at 800 Adele, was in regular use and had special suites and security features to keep the children secure.
Without consultation or warning, children in care were ousted from their beds and evicted in the middle of the night. The Pallister PCs then introduced a law with just two purposes: to cancel the lease between the Southern Authority and a private landlord, and stop anyone from suing the government for doing it.
"Our children's resources are being stolen and Pallister is wanting to legislate himself out of being accountable for it. If the Pallister Government believes they're right in taking the children's money, why does he not want the courts to decide?" said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. "In addition to this, the Pallister Government orchestrated a midnight move claiming there is no need for children to be given a home here. This was politically motivated because the public knows for a fact when it comes to creating safe homes for our children, there is a great need."
"The Pallister PCs are using a budget bill to do an end-run around the courts," said Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont. "The law is there to hold people to their word, and these measures set a terrible precedent-that the Premier gets to pick and choose who the law applies to, which contracts are valid, and whether wrongdoing will be held to account. These measures must be stripped from the budget bill."