Pallister pledges new approach to help at-risk children

New Protecting Children Act will facilitate collaboration and sharing of critical information

A new Progressive Conservative government will introduce the Protecting Children Act making it easier to share information between government departments, child and family service authorities, community service providers and law enforcement agencies when dealing with victimized and at-risk children.

“Better information sharing is necessary to enable service providers and members of law enforcement agencies to provide quicker responses and effective prevention, early intervention and treatment services for at-risk children,” said PC Leader Brian Pallister. “Our new Protecting Children Act will enhance collaboration among front-line service providers as they deliver programs and services for children and youth.”

In the final report of the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry, released in 2014 Justice Ted Hughes noted deficiencies in coordination among the various government departments that deliver child welfare services. The report recommended changes to legislation to allow for greater transparency and information sharing in the child welfare system.

“We need to listen and respond to front line service providers who say this is an essential tool to help them help children,” said Pallister. “This legislation is the necessary first step towards the establishment of a made-in-Manitoba collaborative model that puts children first.”

“Allowing our front-line agencies to share information in the best interests of children has reduced administrative burden, created shared accountability and is allowing us to work in a more effective and efficient way,” said Sheldon Kennedy, of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. “In Alberta, legislation allows agencies with the mandate of protecting kids to share information. This legislation will allow Manitoba agencies to place a priority on early intervention and prevention and ultimately to deliver better outcomes for our most vulnerable children and their families.”

“Information is power. Information can save lives. As a former child in care who now works in the child and family service sector, I know first-hand how critical it is for professionals and helpers supporting a child and their family to have access to information. Breaking down these barriers creates the village to raise the child,” said Angelina Spence, former child in care and current advocate for children in care.

Under the leadership of Brian Pallister, a Progressive Conservative government will implement a new approach, one that seeks to further reduce barriers and puts the needs of children at the forefront.