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Auditor General finds weaknesses in the management of Manitoba’s foster homes

WINNIPEG – Manitoba does not have adequate systems in place to ensure sufficient and appropriate funding for foster home services and to ensure compliance with foster home standards, says Auditor General Norm Ricard. The findings are contained in a new report, Management of Foster Homes, released today.

“To ensure the safety and well-being of children in care, it is imperative that foster homes and places of safety be properly managed by the child and family service agencies, and that children are placed in homes that can appropriately deal with their identified needs,” said Ricard. “Unfortunately, practices in place do not ensure that this is always the case.”

Funding for foster home services

Ricard found that the Department of Families did not explicitly fund child and family service (CFS) agencies for the work required to meet provincially-set standards for licensing and case managing foster homes. This work includes completing home inspections and assessments, conducting reference checks, obtaining criminal record and child abuse registry checks, as well as monitoring foster homes and supporting foster parents. “To comply with the standards, CFS agencies must finance this work using funds designated for other purposes, causing higher than planned caseloads in other areas,” said Ricard.

The audit also found that each of the four CFS agencies audited had a unique method for assessing a child’s needs and for setting the related funding rates paid to caregivers. The report also notes that a child’s assessed needs and the related funding rates for caregivers were often not supported with proper documentation. “These unique systems and weak documentation practices can result in inconsistent service fees for children with similar needs, creating inequities between caregivers at different CFS agencies and within an agency,” said Ricard. “In addition, not requiring proper support for the assessments made, and for the related rates, increases the risk and likelihood of rates being manipulated to meet foster parents’ demands for a specific rate.”

Compliance with foster home standards

In examining the management of new and existing foster homes by CFS agencies, Ricard found inadequate systems for ensuring that foster home standards were initially and consistently met.

With respect to new foster homes, the Auditor General found that some were licensed even though they did not comply with certain licensing requirements. “We recognize that licensing a home with minor exceptions can be justified. However, for eight of the 40 newly licensed foster home files we examined, given the number and type of licensing requirements that these applicants had not met, we concluded that the decision to issue the license was not properly supported,” said Ricard.

For the renewal of existing foster homes licenses, the Auditor General found that annual reviews were not always done, and when they were done, the review forms were frequently incomplete. He found that many security checks were not done as required, many home inspections were not thorough, subsequent follow-ups were not done for items of non-compliance, and actions not escalated for repeat offenders.

In the report, Ricard noted that while foster care workers conducted annual review inspections of foster homes as part of the relicensing process, they conducted few home visits throughout the year, and rarely made unannounced visits. “More frequent home visits, with some unannounced, would help ensure foster care workers get an accurate sense of how a home operates,” he said.

With respect to places of safety, the Auditor General noted that while there are no regulatory requirements for the screening, approval and monitoring of places of safety, Department policies covering these areas were in place. The Auditor General found weaknesses in how CFS agencies assessed places of safety for suitability, noting there was a lack of guidance on how to do this. The report notes that required documents were not always prepared or obtained and that thorough assessments of the information obtained were often not done.

While places of safety are intended to be for short-term emergency placements, the report notes that this was often not the case. As of June 2017, nearly 400 places of safety in the four CFS agencies examined had been operating beyond the six-month time limit. “Longer term placements in a place of safety is a concern because each of these homes is essentially operating as a foster home but without the same safety standards, supervision and support,” said Ricard

Ricard found that the Department had taken some steps to address foster home supply issues, but risks remain. “Some officials told us that child placement decisions were sometimes made out of desperation rather than best fit, and that supply issues had led to a reliance on more expensive placements,” Ricard said.

In Manitoba, there are more than 9,600 children in foster homes and places of safety. Foster homes provide care and supervision for children in care, but not for the purpose of adoption. Places of safety are intended to be temporary, short-term placements, and are often the homes of relatives.

The report contains 43 recommendations. To view the Auditor General’s report, please visit

http://www.oag.mb.ca/reports.

ABOUT THE AUDITOR GENERAL OF MANITOBA

The Auditor General is an officer of the Legislative Assembly mandated to provide independent assurance and advice to Members of the Legislative Assembly. Through its audits, the Office of the Auditor General seeks to identify opportunities to strengthen government operations and enhance performance management and reporting. For more information visit http://www.oag.mb.ca./

For more information contact:
Frank Landry, Communications Manager
204.792.9145

frank. landry@oag.mb.ca

NT5

MB Government: Province Honours Police Officers with Excellence in Law Enforcement Awards

November 22, 2019
Fourteen police officers from across Manitoba have received Excellence in Law Enforcement awards in recognition of their outstanding service and contributions to their communities, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“The officers we pay tribute to today put themselves in harm’s way to protect Manitobans and make our communities safer for everyone,” said Cullen. “They have served with distinction and it’s an honour to recognize their contributions with the Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.”

The awards were presented yesterday evening at the Manitoba Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) Excellence in Policing Awards dinner. This year’s recipients are:
• Const. Michel Latreille, Brandon Police Service (BPS);
• Const. Shawn Haggarty, BPS;
• Const. Myran Hamm, BPS;
• Sgt. Brian Chrupalo, Winnipeg Police Service (WPS);
• Const. Kevin Birkett, WPS;
• Franklin Henry McKay (retired), WPS and Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council Police;
• Insp. Doug Roxburgh, WPS;
• Sgt. Robert Hodyr, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
• Sgt. Carrie Kennedy, RCMP;
• Sgt. Eugene Yewchuk, RCMP;
• Cpl. Shane Flanagan, RCMP;
• Staff Sgt. Beryl Lewis, RCMP;
• Insp. Rob Lasson, RCMP; and
• Const. Tyler Delaronde, Manitoba First Nations Police Service.

“These officers are a credit to their police services and the communities they serve,” said Marc Robichaud, MACP president. “Their dedication has made a measurable difference in the lives of the people they serve.”

The Excellence in Law Enforcement Awards were established by the provincial government to recognize extraordinary efforts by police officers in Manitoba. Award recipients are selected by a committee with representatives from BPS, RCMP, WPS and Manitoba Justice.

More than 150 police officers have received this award to recognize their contributions to their communities, police service or the betterment of law enforcement in Manitoba.

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For more information:

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.

NT5

Sewing project honours Inuit missing and murdered women and girls – Nunatsiaq News

22 November, 2019

“We need a way to commemorate their lives”

Next week a group of Inuit women will gather in Winnipeg to remember missing and murdered Inuit women and girls as they design and sew a unique red amauti.

“Our goal is to work with the affected family members of these missing and murdered Inuit women and create an amauti,” said Gayle Gruben, the Manitoba Inuit Association’s Red Amautiit project officer. “We need a way to commemorate their lives.”

Creating the first red amauti during the association’s Kativiik Sewing Circle earlier this year proved to be a source of powerful healing for participants in that sewing circle, Gruben said.

Read More: https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/sewing-project-honours-inuit-missing-and-murdered-women-and-girls/

APTN and CAJ Seeking Indigenous Investigative Journalism Fellow

APTN and CAJ Seeking Indigenous Investigative Journalism Fellow

November 21, 2019, Winnipeg, Manitoba – The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) and APTN are pleased to announce a call for applications for the forth-Indigenous Investigative Journalism Fellowship.

Application instructions are available on both the APTN and CAJ websites. Deadline for receipt of applications is 11:59 p.m. ET on December 8, 2019.

This fellowship provides a 12-week, paid placement with APTN Investigates in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the winter-spring of 2020. During this time, the recipient is expected to produce a full-length piece of original, investigative journalism that will air on APTN Investigates, the first Indigenous investigative news program in Canada.

The fellowship recipient will receive a complimentary one-year membership to the CAJ and an invitation to #CAJ20 National Conference. The finished piece will be screened to the conference delegates and followed by a panel discussion.

Who should apply?
Journalists of a First Nations, Inuit or Métis background who are eligible to work in Canada and have a minimum of three years’ professional experience working in a media outlet or as a freelancer. The recipient must be willing to relocate to Winnipeg for the period of the fellowship placement.

What should be included in the application?
– A reporting plan, no more than 750 words and laying out the story pitch – including its topic, potential impact, draft timeline, how the applicant expects to tell the story, and why they are the best person to tell it;
– A résumé of no more than two pages;
– Up to three work samples – preferably broadcast clips provided via links or PDFs of print work;
– Up to three letters of reference.

More information on the program and selection criteria is available here.

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ABOUT CAJ:
The CAJ is Canada’s largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing about 600 members across the country. The CAJ’s primary roles are to provide public-interest advocacy and high-quality professional development for its members.

ABOUT APTN:
APTN launched in 1999 as the first national Indigenous broadcaster in the world, creating a window into the remarkably diverse mosaic of Indigenous Peoples. APTN is a respected non-profit, charitable broadcaster and the only one of its kind in North America. Sharing our stories of authenticity in English, French and a variety of Indigenous languages, to approximately 11 million Canadian TV subscribers. With over 80% Canadian content, APTN connects with its audience through genuine, inspiring, and engaging entertainment through multiple platforms.

APTN News Social Scene
https://mobile.twitter.com/aptnnews
https://www.facebook.com/APTNNationalNews/

For further information contact:
Karyn Pugliese, CAJ President, (204) 995-1071

For further information about APTN or image requests, contact:
Emili Bellefleur
Manager of Communications, APTN
(514) 544-6124, ext. 227
ebellefleur@aptn.ca

NT5

Province and Manto Sipi Cree Nation sign mineral development agreement – Thompson Citizen

November 21, 2019

The Manitoba government announced Nov. 21 that it has signed its first new consultation protocol with a First Nation under the terms outlined by the Manitoba-First Nations Mineral Development Protocol created last May.

The agreement with Manto Sipi Cree Nation in northeastern Manitoba was signed following the recent completion of negotiations.

“This agreement is significant as it advances reconciliation by fostering a mutually respectful relationship between the Crown and Indigenous communities, as well as between industry and Indigenous communities,” said Indigenous and Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke in a press release. “The certainty that these agreements bring will enhance public confidence in the mineral sector and the necessary assurance that Manitoba is the right place for business to invest, build and grow.”

The Manitoba-First Nations Mineral Development Protocol defines how Crown-Indigenous consultations occur during all phases of mineral development, adds certainty to enable projects to move ahead and ensures First Nations can be actively involved in all phases of mining projects within their traditional territories. It also gives mineral exploration and mining companies a clear understanding of the requirements and processes surrounding mining projects in First Nations’ traditional territories.

Read More: https://www.thompsoncitizen.net/news/nickel-belt/province-and-manto-sipi-cree-nation-sign-mineral-development-agreement-1.24014719

Manitoba slams lack of detail on Indigenous child-welfare overhaul plan – National Post

WINNIPEG — Canada is only six weeks away from one of the largest-ever reforms to the Indigenous child-welfare system and Ottawa has not shared information about how it will be implemented or funded, Manitoba’s families minister says.

“This is not the way to bring about reforms in such an important area as this that will have an impact on the most vulnerable people in our society — which is our children,” Heather Stefanson said. “This is unacceptable.”

Stefanson said she shared her concerns with former Indigenous Services minister Seamus O’Regan last month about the rollout of C-92, which is to include a massive overhaul of Indigenous child-welfare across the country.

Read More: https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/manitoba-slams-lack-of-detail-on-indigenous-child-welfare-overhaul-plan

Province Introduces Amendments to Manitoba Hydro Act

The Manitoba government has introduced legislation that would increase Manitoba Hydro’s short-term borrowing limit, Crown Services Minister Jeff Wharton announced today.

“Manitoba Hydro has the opportunity to save Manitobans money by updating their financial investments,” said Wharton.  “This long overdue change will save ratepayers up to $41,000 a day in interest.”

The original $500-million loan limit was established in 1992 and has not been reviewed in 27 years.  Since then, Manitoba Hydro’s asset base has grown substantially with major capital projects such as the Bipole III transmission line, the Keeyask Generating Station, and the Manitoba Minnesota Transmission Project.

The borrowing limit is currently undersized relative to Manitoba Hydro’s existing and future needs, noted Wharton.  Increasing the short-term borrowing limit to $1.5 billion from $500 million would assist capital projects in various stages of construction where a loss of funding would delay the project.

Emergency funding is also needed in times of unexpected events, such as the recent October snowstorm.  The final October storm damage bill for Manitoba Hydro is estimated to reach $100 to $120 million.

The loan potentially reduces annual costs for Manitoba Hydro customers by between $8 to $15 million, depending upon market conditions and cash balances.  This is viewed positively by credit rating agencies.

Amended through The Manitoba Hydro Act, the loan increase would bring the Crown corporation more in line with Canadian peer utilities.  B.C. Hydro’s loan limit is $4.5 billion while SaskPower’s is $2 billion.

This initiative shows the government’s priority and commitment to fixing the provinces’ finances and helping save Manitobans money by shopping smarter.  By changing Manitoba Hydro’s short-term borrowing limit, the cost for ratepayers to service Manitoba Hydro’s debt will be reduced, added Wharton.

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For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.

NT4

MB Government: Province Seeks Community-Based Service Providers to Deliver 24-7 Supports to Vulnerable Children and Families

Community Helpers will Help Prevent Apprehensions, Placement Breakdowns: Stefanson

The Manitoba government is making $525,000 in grant funding available to recruit, train and employ ‘community helpers’ to provide services that reduce the risk of Child and Family Services (CFS) apprehension or placement breakdown, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“Our government is focused on protecting kids and ensuring they have the opportunity to grow up in safe, loving homes,” Stefanson said.  “Community helpers will deliver culturally appropriate services tailored to the unique needs of young people, which will help prevent them from having to leave their families or CFS placement.”

The new primary prevention program will match community-based support workers with families and caregivers residing in Winnipeg’s inner city who are experiencing challenges that could lead to separation.  The workers, known as community helpers, will support the stability and wellness of vulnerable families by establishing trusting relationships outside the formal system.  Through these relationships, the caregivers will feel supported, valued and empowered to access additional available services when they are needed.

Through facilitated family-led planning, in-home crisis counselling and skill building exercises, the community helpers will provide children and caregivers with the tools to help manage challenges independently in the long-term, limiting CFS involvement – an approach supported by leading experts.

“Everything we know about investing in the well-being needs of families tells us that preventing unnecessary family separation prevents trauma that can dismember families, communities and cultures,” said Kevin Campbell, an international child protection expert.  “Every step a system takes to implement primary prevention is step toward a truly just system of support for families, communities and culture.  This project is clearly one of those steps.”

One anticipated benefit of the community helpers program is improved overall individual and family wellness, the minister said.  Through the community helper relationship, families and caregivers will be supported to manage or overcome mental health or substance abuse challenges, which can otherwise contribute to children entering care or placement moves.

The methods and teachings employed by the community helpers will also integrate traditional knowledge and wisdom to ensure a cultural connection strengthens the relationships that provide a gateway to services.

The minister noted this new funding also fulfils recommendations of the VIRGO, MACY and other reports to prioritize funding for services for children and youth.

Since the beginning of October, the Manitoba government has committed $18 million toward nine initiatives that will improve mental health and addictions services throughout the province.  Further investments will be announced in the coming weeks.

Manitoba Families is looking for community organizations who will partner to deliver the community helper programming.  An information session outlining the grant competition process and timelines will be held next week.  Proposals will be accepted until Dec. 13.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION ATTACHED

For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-945-4916.

NT5

MKO Hosts Chiefs Assembly on Child Welfare on National Child Day

November 20, 2019

Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is issuing this statement in recognition of National Child Day. The day falls on November 20 each year.

National Child Day is celebrated in Canada in recognition of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention was adopted 30 years ago by the General Assembly of the United Nations on November 20, 1989. Its anniversary is a good time to learn more about the rights of children and youth.

On National Child Day, MKO is hosting a Chiefs Assembly for its 26 Northern communities. The Assembly will take place at the South Beach Casino in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. The Assembly will feature an in-depth look at Bill C-92 as well as provincial child welfare legislation; discussions, visions, and concerns regarding child welfare in Northern First Nations; a historical overview of child welfare; a presentation about MKO’s “foundational strategy;” and more.

“Children are sacred gifts from the Creator and they are at the center of our First Nations. Elders and traditional teachers tell us that our actions today will impact the next seven generations,” stated Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “MKO aims to empower First Nations in reclaiming jurisdiction over their own children and that’s a part of why we are hosting an Assembly starting today on child welfare.”

National Child Day provides an opportunity to promote the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and is an opportunity to encourage people to increase their understanding of children’s rights and why these rights are so important. MKO’s Child Welfare Secretariat will continue to work to advance the rights of First Nations children and youth.

Day 1

Day 2

NT5

SCO Acknowledges Federal Cabinet Appointments

November 20, 2019

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) Grand Chief Jerry Daniels would like to take this moment to congratulate the Ministers sworn in to the Federal Cabinet today by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Grand Chief Jerry Daniels extends his welcome, “I look forward to working with this slate of Ministers towards building stronger relationships of mutual benefit of all of our peoples.  I would like to extend a special acknowledgement to Ministers Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services, and Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs. We look forward to meeting with you all and continuing our work together to help out our 34 southern First Nations.”

SCO send its congratulations to the following Federal Cabinet Ministers:

  • Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement
  • Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Youth
  • Mona Fortier, Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance
  • Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
  • Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
  • Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
  • Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
  • David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General
  • Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
  • Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
  • Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
  • Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Minister of Rural Economic Development
  • Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance
  • Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources
  • Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Accessibility
  • Pablo Rodriguez, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Quebec Lieutenant
  • Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence
  • Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour
  • Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs
  • Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

We wish you all the best in your new appointments, and look forward to seeing how First Nations can work together to better service our respective communities and constituencies.

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations of Manitoba in agreement to establish an independent political forum to protect, preserve, promote, and enhance First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

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For further information, please contact Vic Savino at (204) 946-1869 or via email at Vic.Savino@scoinc.mb.ca.

Original Press Release: Federal Cabinet 2019 Appointments PR

NT5

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