Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Child-welfare devolution review urged

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Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen called on the province Thursday to create a special all-party committee to examine the devolution of Manitoba's child welfare system to aboriginal agencies.

McFadyen said the review is needed in the wake of two more deaths of children in care, as reported in Thursday's Free Press. Five-month-old Samuel Luke Maytwaywashing died of natural causes March 26 in his Lake Manitoba reserve home and 16-year-old will Trout Jr. hanged himself May 26 in a Winnipeg foster home. Maytwaywashing's siblings were in CFS care.

McFadyen said these deaths and others point to a system in need of immediate outside review .

"We want solutions. I think it's time to acknowledge today what is and what is not working."

Child and Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said an all-party review was not needed.

He said there are already a number of reviews, including in one case an RCMP investigation, into child-welfare agencies, plus an ongoing overhaul of the system. There is also a pending legislative change that would put child safety first in any decisions about their care and custody. "There is a major overhaul happening," Mackintosh said.

In response to McFadyen, he said he's agreed to meet with Tory child and family services critic Stu Briese over the summer to discuss changes to the system.

Since 2003, at least 25 Manitoba children in CFS care have died as a result of homicide and 39 others have committed suicide.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 6, 2008

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