Report finds many Manitoba youth are battling addiction

Manitoba’s Advocate for Youth and Children expresses concern regarding the rise in the number of youths battling addiction. And is calling on the Kinew government to address the need for youth addiction services in Manitoba. Kurt Black reports

On Tuesday, Manitoba’s Advocate for Youth and Children (MACY) released alarming numbers regarding the rising number of youths battling addiction and is calling on the provincial government to address the dire need for youth addiction services in Manitoba.

“The numbers, they speak for themselves,” said advocate Sherry Gott. “I hope that they see the statement today and take action.”

Since the end of 2019, MACY has seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of advocacy cases related to addiction, primarily affecting female and Indigenous youths — with 56 youth deaths related to drug and alcohol addiction over the past five years.

“Analysis of child death reviews for adverse childhood experiences, highlighted prevalent risks with household substance use, exposure of family violence, and neglect emerging as top concerns,” Gott said.

After consultation with various stakeholders and those who have lived with addiction, Gott says greater cultural programming and wraparound services are needed.

“After they are done their treatment, there needs to be support in the communities,” said Gott.

Having been a foster parent for over 12 years, Jamie Pfau knows all too well the struggle of finding adequate resources for her foster children. She says all too often the concerns of foster parents fall on deaf ears.

“Manitoba’s child welfare system is absolutely responsible for this mess,” said Pfau.

“It’s just so dismissive and heartbreaking when you as their caregiver know what they need, and there is nothing in the province that can help them.”

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