“Finish the job, proclaim the Child Protection law,” says Woodstock

Don WoodstockWinnipeg, June 1, 2015: Green Party of Manitoba Family Services Advocate Don Woodstock says the NDP Government should proclaim the law requiring mandatory reporting of critical incidents involving children in care that it passed nearly a year ago.

The Child and Family Services Amendment Act (Critical Incident Reporting) was passed in June, 2014, but has never been proclaimed. This law would strengthen protections for children and compel those looking after children in care to report critical incidents immediately. It followed the Hughes inquiry into the murder of Phoenix Sinclair.

Because the law is set to come into force by proclamation, it has no force until the Cabinet sets a date to make it law. A year has passed and no date has been set to bring this law into effect. “The Government must finish the job and proclaim the law,” said Woodstock.

“I’m appalled at the government’s foot-dragging,” said Green Party of Manitoba leader James Beddome.

Proclaiming the Act is a first step but much more is needed,” noted Woodstock. “Addressing the root causes of poverty, decolonization, and lack of fair work opportunities are key to fixing our child and family system. Government failure to proclaim its own act demonstrates complete inaction in the face of a burgeoning crisis. This is not acceptable.”

“We need more than empty promises,” said Woodstock commenting on the recent announcement by Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross. On April 1, 2015 she promised that the Government would stop housing children in care in hotels by June 1, 2015. Irvin-Ross has now admitted this will not happen in northern and rural Manitoba until December 1, 2015.

Woodstock said the Green Party of Manitoba has begun a consultation with stakeholders in the Child and Family Services system to find solutions to the crisis. “We will work with a wide spectrum of experts, especially those who have been harmed by this system,” Woodstock said. “The solutions exist and we will present them to the people of Manitoba over the coming months.”