Manitoba Advocate Report Details Tragic Failures and Gaps in Mental Health

February 27, 2020

WINNIPEG - Manitoba Liberals say the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth report into the death by suicide of a young man who was failed by multiple systems is a searing exposure of how the Pallister government is failing Manitobans - especially children and youth on mental health.

Matthew was bullied without mercy, his parents and CFS both did everything they could, even as other agencies and services closed their files on a young man who died too soon. The report describes a "patchwork" of services where a victim of bullying was suspended from school but the bullying was not addressed.

"This is a heartbreaking story and it highlights the desperate need for better mental health supports and services in Manitoba," said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St. Boniface.

"We want to express our deep condolences and extreme sadness to his family and friends over the tragic death of Matthew," said Liberal Health Critic and MLA for River Heights, Jon Gerrard. "The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth is to be congratulated on a very thorough report, which makes it crystal clear that, except for the CFS agency involved, Manitoba's health and social services fell short."

Manitoba Liberals say the Pallister government must take immediate steps and implement the Manitoba Advocate's recommendations. Additionally, the province should cover psychotherapy under medicare and expand services for young people.

They are also calling again on the government to immediately proclaim legislation that expands the powers of the Manitoba Advocate. The government has already passed the legislation, but has not gone through the final steps of making it law.

Under current law, the Manitoba Advocate can only investigate cases of children who are involved with Child and Family Services. The new legislation would allow the Advocate's office to investigate cases involving all children in Manitoba.

"We are once again calling on the Pallister government to immediately proclaim phase 2 and phase 3 of this legislation, so every child in Manitoba can have a voice, not just those in CFS," said Lamont.

"This is a tragic situation, and we all have a responsibility to ensure it doesn't happen again," said Gerrard. "Mental health care is health care, and we have to provide families and children with the coordinated support they need - whether it is in school, the health system or social services."

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