From Winnipeg CBC news sources on Thursday came this information. Manitoba has a Children's advocate position just as British Columbia does. Billie Schibler is the current children's advocate who has been an outspoken critic of the government with regard to issues facing children in care. In April she left her post on indefinite leave due to personal family reasons. Hers is to be an office independent of government, dealing directly with the Manitoba legislative assembly – an office similar to our B.C. Advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. Ms. Schibler's term in office is scheduled to expire in April 2011. she left very early. Without an advocate in place, Bonnie Kocsis is the acting children's advocate, and an acting officer is not viewed as healthy because of the reluctance to affect necessary changes. An all-party committee will convene soon to discuss potential candidates to replace Schibler. Her office is in the news now because on Wednesday a private Advocate's report was leaked. It declared that provincial child welfare system is in a state of crisis. Manitoba has an NDP government. Although it was intended to be private, Liberal MLA Kevin Lamoureux who had access to the report because he is a member of the budget committee, forwarded it to the media. Lamoureux's defence of his action stated, "our children are much more important than something that happens beyond closed doors." The report stated that children in care have increased from 6600 to 8600 over a five year span. It claims that social workers are quitting due to overwhelming caseloads that are two-and-a-half times larger than is reasonable. It referenced critically the government policy of placing aboriginal children in non aboriginal foster homes. When this report was leaked, the Opposition requested that the Advocate appear to answer questions about the report but the government would not grant this and came under immediate heavy pressure. Then on Thursday, news broke that the NDP government will introduce a bill requiring the Children's advocate to appear annually before a legislative committee to answer questions about child welfare in Manitoba. Ostensibly the intention of this government action to create an interactive forum with the Advocate is to provide greater insight to the government and to Manitobans regarding the challenges as well as the accomplishments of child welfare. One is compelled to trust the government's motive integrity. Yet Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh was quick to defend the government's past responses to the Advocate's concerns.
What do you think about that?
Read more: CBC children's advocate story
Advocate warns of state of chaos
Children's advocate website
Advocate on indefinite leave
Brandon Sun – social workers leave
Winnipeg Free Press – backlog a challenge for agency
What is Advocacy