Children’s Advocate Report shows Sask. Party failing on youth justice

A special report on a death in a provincial youth correctional facility was released by the Saskatchewan Children’s Advocate Wednesday and it outlined a number of Sask. Party failures on the treatment of young people in the correctional system. 

“This tragic death demonstrates how this government needs to do a better job when it comes to handling complex cases and health needs in the correctional system,” said NDP Policing and Corrections Critic Nicole Sarauer.

The report outlined the life of a First Nations boy with a hearing impairment but was never given the proper supports and ultimately died because the facilities he was in couldn’t accommodate his disability.

“This is one of the many cases where youth are falling through the cracks in corrections,” Sarauer said. “This government is clearly failing to ensure that youth in custody are given the proper supports so they can rejoin society and contribute in meaningful ways.”

Sarauer noted that aside from Saskatchewan having the highest youth crime rate among provinces, nine out of 10 aboriginal youth who enter the correctional system had re-contact with the system following their release. The re-contact rate for non-aboriginal youth is seven out of 10.

Despite the high needs in corrections, this government closed down the Yarrow Youth Farm and Orcadia Youth Residence, and in the 2016-17 budget, the Sask. Party made cuts to the Aboriginal courtworker program, the Alternative Measures Programming and the Aboriginal Police Consultation Groups.