Decrying Saskatchewan’s high and rising number of kids in care and the fact that a growing majority of those kids are Indigenous, NDP Leader Ryan Meili joined with Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice-Chief David Pratt to challenge the Sask. Party’s failure to act on poverty, addiction and First Nations marginalization, and call on the Premier to introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy and increased funding for mental health and addictions to address the root causes of the surge.
“There’s a lot of pain in these numbers,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “There couldn’t be a starker indictment of the government’s failure to act than what we see here.”
According to Ministry of Social Services figures, the number of kids in care has climbed each of the past five years, and now stands higher than it’s been in 11 years. A staggering 86 per cent of those kids are Indigenous.
“We know that there are too many kids in care, and all too often they are there because their families are experiencing poverty,” said Meili. “One in four kids in our province is living in poverty. We have the lowest minimum wage in the country. Poverty puts incredible stress on families and it is Saskatchewan kids who experience the effects of that stress. We need real action on poverty reduction in this province and urgent action on mental health and addictions.”
FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt criticized Premier Moe and his government for failing to make the rising number of Indigenous kids in care a priority in recent years.
“We’ve made this call before, but they’re just not interested. The Saskatchewan government needs to work to meet the needs of First Nations children, including supporting the transition to First Nations’ jurisdiction over child welfare,” said Pratt.