The Ford government says it is redesigning the province’s child welfare system with a focus on prevention and early intervention, but the Opposition is calling their plan all but empty.
The province’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues Jill Dunlop says the new approach will help to address the over-representation of Black and Indigenous families in the children’s aid system.
Under the revamped system, Dunlop says community services will emphasize care in a family setting, rather than in a group home.
It will also seek more permanent homes for children and youth who can’t stay with their families or communities, including a centralized adoption process.
Although Dunlop says the plan was put together with input from First Nations, community organizations, youth and families, some critics say it doesn’t solve some of the urgent issues the sector is facing.
Monique Taylor, the NDP critic for Children and Youth Services and Sol Mamakwa, critic for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation issued a joint statement on Wednesday, saying the plan doesn’t meet its goal of “transforming the system.”
“We don’t see any details of this transformation in the Ford government’s announcement today,” the statement reads. “There was no new funding, and no details of how the government will actually start to transform the child welfare system.”
“Dozens of children and youth have died while in child services since the pandemic began,” the statement continues. “Eleven of those children were Indigenous. To date this has been met with silence by the Ford government.”
“Without details, real resources or money, no timelines, and no commitment to transform the laws that govern child welfare, the Ford government is not dealing with these critical issues when Indigenous communities and children and youth in care desperately need a plan,” it concludes.