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This article was published 20/2/2015 (1215 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Opposition Progressive Conservatives say they’re getting the runaround in finding how much taxpayers have paid to put up at-risk youth in hotels.
PC Leader Brian Pallister said today the NDP government has stymied the Opposition’s efforts to find out, using the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, how much it’s cost to keep children in hotels, broken down by each Child and Family Services Agency, from 2007 to the end of last year.
Pallister said after several months, the original FIPPA request was made last October, the Tories have been told that no record of the costs of housing at-risk youth in hotels exists.
Pallister said there’s no way those records, those hotel bills, do not exist.
He called on the government to be more forthcoming is releasing information about how it safeguards vulnerable young people.
"The government is refusing to respond, and that’s either because they are incompetent or they are being deceitful and dishonest," Pallister said. "It’s one of those two things."
The Tories note the government does track how many at-risk children are put up in hotels if there is no other placement. http://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/childfam/pubs/hotel_placements.pdf
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said last November that the government is taking steps to reduce the number of kids in care who are temporarily placed in hotels. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/province-to-reduce-cfs-hotel-use-283159381.html
The Tories also said they have 110 outstanding FIPPA requests to government, the oldest being submitted in April 2013.
A government spokeswoman said one possible reason for the delay is that the PCs have bombarded the government with freedom of information requests.
"We note that FIPPA requests from Opposition have skyrocketed," she said. "In 2009, they submitted 350 FIPPA requests to government; in 2014 they submitted 1,441. That is more than triple the volume."
In 2013, the last year statistics are available, Manitoba government departments and agencies received a total of 1,927 requests for information.
The government spokesman added in the hotel-cost request raised by Pallister, the Department of Family Services does not track the information requested in their FIPPA application.