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Manitoba still hasn’t acted on some recommendations to protect kids, advocate says

WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s advocate for children and youth says the province has still not fulfilled some key recommendations aimed at protecting young people.

Sherry Gott says the government has made progress in the number of recommendations partially or fully implemented, but among the outstanding ones are ideas from the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry report nine years ago.

The five-year-old girl died after years of neglect and abuse, and a recommendation that child welfare workers have a maximum of 20 cases at a time has yet to be fulfilled.

Gott says a more-recent recommendation to promote and provide safe sleeping surfaces for infants has not been acted on, and the number of sleep-related deaths among infants appears to be rising.

Her report also says the province has yet to act on a recommendation to develop a mental health and addictions strategy specific to young people.

Gott says the government has shown some action toward implementing 88 per cent of recommendations from various reports in recent years, and 18 per cent have been fully implemented.

The provincial Health Department had the lowest rate of compliance and said the COVID-19 pandemic affected how quickly it could act, Gott said in her report Tuesday.

“With the removal of all COVID-19 health measures and restrictions this past spring, the Department of Health must begin to prioritize action on recommendations,” the report states.

“By delaying service improvements for a few years, children and youth have essentially been asked to wait until the pandemic is over before vital, and life-saving improvements could be made to their health services. Frankly, kids cannot wait.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2023.

The Canadian Press