Manitoba·CBC Investigates

Critics call for government review after secret tapes reveal delays in dealing with sex abuse of foster kids

Critics are calling for a government review of the circumstances surrounding the handling of sexual abuse allegations in a Manitoba foster home.

'System is designed to protect itself more than it is designed to protect children,' says advocate

'The whole design of the funding model for child welfare in Manitoba is completely backwards from the get go.' says Cora Morgan. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Critics are calling for a government review of the handling of sexual abuse allegations in a Manitoba foster home after frank admissions were made on a secretly recorded tape obtained by CBC News. 

In the recording, the director of foster care at a for-profit agency admitted they didn't act quickly enough to separate children from their abuser when sexual abuse allegations emerged in a foster home in 2016.

"The system is designed to protect itself more than it is designed to protect children,' said Cora Morgan, First Nations Family Advocate for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. 

On Wednesday, Minister of Families Heather Stefanson said she will wait and see before ordering an investigation into the case.  

Morgan challenged the minister to step up and get to the bottom of what happened to make sure it never happens again.   

"Have the integrity, come forward and do something significant about it and send a message that this type of thing isn't going to be tolerated and that these agencies and authorities need to have a quicker response," said Morgan.

"Ultimately she's the top of this messed-up system that's harming children." 

MLA Bernadette Smith, the NDP's Department of Families critic, wants the province to investigate the handling of sex abuse allegations in a foster home. (CBC)

B & L Resources for Children and Youth is the private agency hired by Metis CFS to recruit and oversee the foster home in which the sex abuse allegations arose. The allegations against a minor in the home were eventually substantiated by child welfare authorities.

Metis CFS is the guardian of the foster children and has ultimate responsibility for their safety.

In an emailed statement, B & L said it responds immediately to CFS agencies' requests.

$10.6 million to B & L 

The province of Manitoba paid B & L $10.6 million last year for services. This sum does not include the estimated $5 million Metis CFS Authority says it paid to the company last year. 

"I think it's crazy," said Morgan. "The whole design of the funding model for child welfare in Manitoba is completely backwards from the get go."

Families Opposition critic Bernadette Smith agrees the government needs to do its own probe into what happened. 

"What we want the government to do is actually do their own investigation and make sure that you know kids that are put in these places aren't at risk of being abused," said Smith in an interview with CBC News. 

"I think it is in the public interest to have a report done and for that to be released to ensure that there are steps being taken," said Smith who previously worked in the child welfare system. 

Morgan says more light needs to shine on the child welfare system in order to improve kids' lives. 

"We rarely find out what happens for these children and whether these children are being helped in any way."


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