More than three years ago the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry made a number of recommendations but the Children’s Advocate of Manitoba says less than one third of them have been implemented by the province.
“The government has been surprisingly quiet on what action they have taken to respond to the recommendations made in the final report of the inquiry,” explained children’s advocate Darlene MacDonald, “We feel the public has a right to understand what improvements are being made in the wake of Phoenix’s tragic death. We want to encourage a more transparent public conversation.”
Phoenix Sinclair was murdered by her mother and stepfather after being returned to them by social workers. She was only five years old at the time of her death.
The inquiry into the circumstances that led up to her demise was one of the most extensive and expensive ever held in Manitoba. Commissioner Ted Hughes made 62 recommendations at the completion of the inquiry. Most of the recommendations suggested changes to the child welfare system in Manitoba.
Upon releasing the final report of the inquiry to the public nearly three years ago, the government apologized for failing Phoenix and committed to “immediately act” on all of the recommendations from the inquiry commission.
To date 50% of the recommendations are considered “in progress” , 21% are considered “pending” and 29% are considered “complete”.
One of the “complete” recommendations related to how social workers are registered
That the Social Work Profession Act be:
- a) amended to require that anyone who practices social work in Manitoba, under
whatever title, be registered with the Manitoba College of Social Workers; and
- b) proclaimed into law at the earliest possible date, following the receipt of the
report of the transitional board.
According to the province the recommendation is complete and nothing further will be done. The advocate believes that is not the case.
Commissioner Ted Hughes who oversaw the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry was explicit in calling on the government to ensure any individual providing social work-type services should be required to be registered and accountable to the professional regulatory body for social work practice in Manitoba. And yet, in April 2015, the government suddenly indicated it had only ever intended to protect the title of “social work” as opposed to requiring professional regulation of the actual practice.
“If this report was assessing and analyzing the government’s progress, we would dispute their claim that this recommendation is appropriately addressed and complete,” noted MacDonald. “We feel professional accountability is critical to improved service delivery, and the public has a right to know workers are well-trained and can be held to rigorous standards of practice.”
The complete report can be viewed here