Alberta axes probation position aiding aboriginal youth
Position eliminated to save $80,000
The province is eliminating funding for a probation officer position that offered unique and specialized help to keep young aboriginal offenders out of trouble and out of jail.
With no warning, the Alberta government decided to end the position offered through Native Counselling Services at the end of the month.
I honestly believe she is the difference between success and failure for some of these kids- Pat Yuzwenko
"I certainly have some fear that some of these clients may not be successful without her," said Pat Yuzwenko, who works in the Youth Criminal Defence Office. "I can't find enough superlatives to tell you how important it is to have her involved with some of these clients.
"I honestly believe she is the difference between success and failure for some of these kids."
Jodene McIsaac has filled the position for the last eight of its 20 years.
"You know what?" she said. "I love my job."
The job requires dedication, helping teens around the clock, she said.
"We'll go to the house," she said. "We'll go to the school. We'll go pick them up where they're at. We'll get them to court."
She dreads telling the 29 young offenders she works with that they're on their own.
"It's just another situation in their life where people that say they care — people that are there for them — are now walking out away from them."
Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said the decision will save taxpayers $80,000.
"I'm confident we're acting in the best interest of the taxpayer," he said. "But also the individual children who will access these services through the department."
With files from CBC's Janice Johnston