Manitoba’s acting advocate for children and youth says the government is not doing enough to address gaps in support for young people dealing with mental health and substance use challenges.
In her annual report released Thursday, Ainsley Krone assesses how the province has addressed dozens of recommendations her office has made to improve services for children and youth.
She writes that overall compliance remains low, “which adversely affects Manitoba children, youth, young adults and families.”
Between 2018 and 2020, the advocate’s office made 51 recommendations to provincial departments, including education, justice, families and health.
The report says the government has failed to substantively act on more than half the calls for improvements and only four have been fully brought in.
Krone acknowledges the role the COVID-19 pandemic has played in shifting priorities, especially when it comes to essential health workers, but says Manitoba children cannot wait until the health crisis is over for the government to enact change.
“The needs of children and youth must become a higher priority in our province,” she writes in the report.
Manitoba Education has been the department with the highest level of compliance, she says. In 2021, the department prioritized resources to address bullying and mental health promotion in schools. Other recommendations that remain outstanding are expected to be completed next year.
Manitoba Health and Seniors Care continues to have the lowest compliance. Krone says the department hasn’t acted to prevent sleep-related infant deaths, which was the subject of a 2020 report, and hasn’t much improved mental health and substance use treatment services.
The report notes the department has said some recommendations relating to the latter are on hold while a national framework is developed.
Krone says the government must prioritize ways to prevent sleep-related infant deaths, strengthen co-ordination across government departments and publicly release and act on reviews of child and youth mental health and substance use treatments.
“Children and youth have a right to services and the Manitoba government, while it conducts reviews and restructures departments, has an uninterrupted obligation to ensure the needs of children and youth are met.”
© 2021 The Canadian Press
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