Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the Day

Getting at the root problem

  • Print

Much of the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry's time and most of the coverage concentrates on which individual or agency is to blame for this poor child's death. Because this tragedy occurred while she was involved with the child-welfare system, the public's eyes have focused on the social workers who were involved with her and her family. But who is responsible for the ills in our society that produce this mess in the first place?

Manitoba has Canada's second-highest rate of child poverty (depending on what measure is being used). Manitoba is also the province with the highest proportion of aboriginal citizens. Many aboriginal parents are the children and grandchildren of survivors of the residential school system. They deal with the daily reality of racialized poverty and a legacy of broken promises.

No child-welfare system, no matter how good, can fix the resulting problems. Social workers can't guarantee healthy children any more than doctors can. We have to prevent as many of these problems as possible by ensuring every child has an adequate home and enough of the stuff of life to achieve their human potential. When that is not possible, we do our best at damage control for the unfortunate ones.

As a retired social worker myself, I feel that we as a society should all know the strong relationships between poverty and poor health, poor housing, poor nutrition, poor graduation rates and increased substance abuse. We should all know the impact of these factors on parenting skills. These are the issues that lead to child neglect, increased cases of children in care and overworked and underperforming social workers.

Social workers in child welfare have been given the role of cleaning up the human debris caused by structural issues in society. The inquiry does have the mandate to examine "any other circumstances apart from the delivery of child-welfare services directly related to the death of Phoenix Sinclair." It remains to be seen to what degree this part of the mandate is honoured, but it would be appropriate for the media and others following the inquiry to keep them in mind.

When will our society begin to take responsibility for the vulnerable persons it creates and address the poverty and other structural issues it produces? It is long past time for all governments, First Nations, agencies, civil societies and yes, businesses, to use the available research and best practices to come up with the policies and practices that will erase this stain on our country.

CLARK BROWNLEE

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 10, 2012 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Drew Willy on his team's win over Alouettes

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Two Canada geese fly Wednesday afternoon at Oak Hammock Marsh- Front bird is banded for identification- Goose Challenge Day 3- - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose flies towards the sun near the Perimeter Highway North and Main St Monday afternoon – See Day 10 for Bryksa’s 30 goose project - May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Have you decided which mayoral candidate will get your vote?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google