New law lets agencies working with at-risk kids share information more effectively, province says

A Manitoba act that aims to find missing kids faster and better is now law.

Manitoba's Protecting Children Act is a direct response to a recommendation from the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry

The Manitoba government says a new law lets agencies working with at-risk children better share information. (istock)

A new Manitoba law that aims to help authorities find missing children faster and provide better care for at-risk kids has now come into effect.

The Progressive Conservative government proclaimed its Protecting Children (Information Sharing) Act Friday.

The government says the new law lets agencies working with at-risk children share information more effectively.

"Every second counts when a child's health or safety is at risk and that's why our government is following through on our commitment to remove barriers to share information," Families Minister Scott Fielding said in a news release.

The minister said the law will let service providers share critical information and speak openly with each other so vulnerable children can get the care they need.

Manitoba's Opposition NDP, along with Liberal critics, expressed concerns last year that the law won't do enough to improve the conditions that can lead to children going missing in the first place.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister first announced the act in May of 2016, along with former NHL star Sheldon Kennedy, who was sexually assaulted in his youth by his hockey coach Graham James.

The new law is in direct response to a reccomendation made in the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry report.

Sinclair was just five years old when she was murdered by her mother and stepfather in 2005.

The inquiry into her death found Phoenix was beaten and left to die on a basement floor but her death was not detected until nine months later, in March 2006, when one of her stepbrothers reported it to authorities.

Some who knew Phoenix or her family told the inquiry they were uneasy sharing information with authorities and feared repercussions if they did so.