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Home Canadian Press Manitoba promises help for child welfare but backs away from inquiry suggestions

Manitoba promises help for child welfare but backs away from inquiry suggestions

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WINNIPEG — Manitoba is promising more support for families in danger of losing their children to government care.

But the province is backing away from some key recommendations in a $14-million inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair.

Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross says there will be a 60 per cent increase in funding for in-home support services by social workers.

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And the province’s children’s advocate is to be given more independence.

But Irvin-Ross says some of the recommendations from the report into the five-year-old’s death at the hands of her mother and the woman’s boyfriend may not be feasible.

She says the province may not be able to extend care to all child welfare wards until the age of 25 or reduce caseloads to 20 families per social worker.

“I wish there was one way, there was a magic bullet, but there isn’t,” Irvin-Ross said.

A year ago, the government received the final report from the inquiry and hired a consultant for $500,000 to look at how to implement all 62 of the recommendations made by Justice Ted Hughes. The consultant’s 200-page report was released Tuesday.

Phoenix bounced in and out of foster care and suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her mother and stepfather before she died from her injuries in 2005. Her death was not discovered for months while her mother continued to collect child-subsidy cheques.

The inquiry into her death found Manitoba’s welfare system fundamentally failed to protect the girl or support her family. The government promised to implement all the recommendations.

Almost half of the suggestions are being addressed, Irvin-Ross said.

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