Manitoba

Muslim group wants meeting with Pallister government after funding cut

The head of the Islamic Social Services Association is requesting a meeting with the Pallister government after funding for a preventative program it ran was cut.

Preventative pilot project was meant to keep newcomer families from getting caught up in CFS system

Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Service Association in Winnipeg, wants a meeting with Manitoba Families Minister Scott Fielding. (CBC)

The head of the Islamic Social Services Association in Winnipeg is requesting a meeting with Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister's government after funding for a preventative program it ran was cut.

Shahina Siddiqui, the president of the association in the city, said she has asked for a meeting with Families Minister Scott Fielding, but so far the government has refused her request.

Siddiqui wants $110,000 in funding for a pilot prevention program restored. The former NDP government gave the association the funding in 2015, which it would later extend.

The program, which Siddiqui called "critical," paid for a full-time social worker and family support worker to help Syrian refugees integrate into Winnipeg.

The goal of the program is to keep newcomers from becoming involved with the child welfare system and provide Muslim families dealing with the system with support.

Newcomers dealing with the system often face language barriers, which can lead to problems with Child and Family Services, Siddiqui said.

"Things go on the file that are not necessarily true."

'Few actual clients were served': government

Since having its funding cut, Siddiqui said the association has had to let go of a family support worker.

She said the Muslim community in Winnipeg was informed about the cuts Saturday. 

"People are quite upset," she said.

A spokesman for Fielding's department said the General Child and Family Services Authority found the project didn't help prevent newcomers from becoming involved with the child welfare system.

"Few actual clients were served. The ISSA was therefore advised that the General Authority is unable to provide ongoing funding for the project," a statement said.