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Sask. children's advocate raises concerns in annual report
Published Tuesday, April 25, 2017 1:35PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, April 25, 2017 5:00PM CST
Saskatchewan’s children’s advocate says he’s concerned with the disparity between on- and off-reserve funding for child welfare and education.
“The disparity in funding between on and off reserve education is unacceptable,” Corey O’Soup said in a news release.
“We must work together to address the lack of resources and to tackle the disparity in graduation rates between our First Nations and Metis and non-First Nations and Metis students. This is one of my top priorities.”
O’Soup tabled his first annual report in the provincial legislature Tuesday. The report identifies longstanding systemic issues, such as barriers to mental health services in remote and rural regions, persistent issues in youth custody, and a lack of supports in many schools, particularly those on reserves.
In the report, O’Soup also calls on the province to fully implement all legislative amendments to the Child and Family Services Act.
“These amendments will address the longstanding recommendations we’ve made to government that we know will result in better outcomes for children and youth,” O’Soup said.
“Many of the amendments delayed are the ones that are integral to a renewal of the child welfare system.”
O’Soup took over as Saskatchewan’s children’s advocate last November. His report profiles the impact of the work and recommendations of his predecessor, Bob Pringle, during his tenure from 2011 to 2016.
“It is evident that a tremendous amount of work was done during Mr. Pringle’s tenure that led to some necessary improvements in the child welfare system benefiting children and youth in these systems,” O’Soup said.
“But more needs to be done and it will be important for all systems to work together to find creative solutions toward better outcomes for our children.”
The NDP Opposition says the report makes it clear that the Saskatchewan Party continues to fail vulnerable children throughout the province.
“This report shows the continuation of some troubling trends under the Sask. Party,” social services critic Nicole Rancourt said in an NDP news release.
“We see indigenous children continuously overrepresented in the child welfare system but under resourced. What we haven’t seen is a willingness from the Sask. Party to take the right steps to fix these issues.”