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Phoenix inquiry fallout

Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross tells us "the system" failed Phoenix Sinclair (Front line failed her: report, Feb. 1). The inquiry has shown what many of us have suspected: the province’s family services are more dysfunctional than most of the families they were created to assist.

The department minister, deputy ministers, senior bureaucrats and supervisors failed to create a system capable of carrying out the department’s mandates. It is the people who created, monitored and operated the system who failed Phoenix Sinclair and taxpayers.

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Agencies were told about a four per cent funding cut, retroactive to April 01, 2013, at Christmastime (Agencies hit with cash cuts, Jan. 30). This is not a move designed to improve services or the supervision of children at risk; rather, it was made in spite of the deficiencies that became evident during the course of the two-year inquiry.

The 62 recommendations that arise from the inquiry can be summed up in three words: Do your jobs. As long as the same people remain in charge we cannot expect much change — they will not willingly be held accountable.

The results and recommendations of the $14-million inquiry are extraordinary in their depth and breadth, and taxpayers have every right to expect a major upheaval. Excuses and lip service are unacceptable.

I will believe the provincial government is serious when it replaces management in the Family Services Department. Anything less will leave vulnerable children and families at risk while those responsible blame "the system" they created for the inevitable disasters that will occur.




Commission reports, "lessons learned," apologies from ministers: can any of these instil dedication to duty in those who failed this innocent child?

After the tears dry, those involved should be fired. No one involved in this case should remain in their positions.

Children should never be placed at risk again by these people.




Ted Hughes says, "To truly honour Phoenix, we need to provide all of Manitoba’s children with a good start to life and offer to the most vulnerable an escape from the cycle of poverty and vulnerability that trapped Phoenix and her family."

True... but could we at least start by honouring Phoenix Sinclair with a headstone?




In the article Front line failed her: report (Feb. 1), it is noted: "Missing from the report was a significant discussion of devolution, the massive and messy process of transferring control of aboriginal child-welfare cases to aboriginal-run agencies."

Why was this missing? What effect did devolution have on the ability of social workers to perform their jobs, and why was it ignored in the report on the inquiry?

It sounds like an attempt to blame social workers. While they obviously played a role, shouldn’t the government be held accountable for its actions and policies as well?




What happened to Phoenix Sinclair shames us all. Manitoba has spent $14 million on the inquiry, which found over two dozen agency workers handled her file.

Yet Commissioner Ted Hughes hasn’t named any of these individuals.

As hard as it may be to accept, there are individual Manitobans who are responsible for the death of this little girl.

Until the system publicly acknowledges this, nothing is going to change.

The commission has essentially failed Phoenix Sinclair.


Halifax, NS


Super Bowl blowout

Re: Manning vs. Wilson = Siberian tiger vs. blind poodle, Jan. 21.

Given Doug Brown’s disappointing attack on Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, it would seem the three-legged toy poodle "got a leg up" on the Siberian tiger (as Brown called Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning) in Sunday’s 43-8 Super Bowl victory.

Man up, Doug... woof, woof.




Civic engagement needed

We need more discussion about civic issues in Winnipeg like Brent Bellamy’s column Embracing density (Jan. 27).

Before the next municipal election this fall, citizens need to be active in discussions about issues such as affordable housing, transit, infrastructure, poverty, civic governance and accountability. An informed, engaged electorate will demand candidates for civic office articulate their ideas on how city hall will manage Winnipeg’s future.




End Senate affiliations

I too applaud Justin Trudeau’s bold action to reform the senate (Senate salvageable, Letters, Jan. 30), but why stop there?

Independence nurtures individual creative thought. If senators can operate better with no party affiliation, shouldn’t all elected officials be independent?

If all elected officials were chosen based on their intelligence, understanding and, most importantly, ability to compromise in the name of good policy and solutions, all of society would benefit.




The Free Press welcomes letters from readers. Include the author’s name, address and telephone number. Letters may be edited. Letters to the Editor, 1355 Mountain Avenue, Winnipeg, R2X 3B6. Fax 204-697-7412. Email Letters represent the opinions of their writers and do not reflect the opinions of the Winnipeg Free Press or its staff.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2014 A6

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