Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A girl who cannot be identified stands near the Best Western Hotel where she is in Child and Family Services care in Winnipeg Manitoba, March 9, 2015.

Lyle Stafford/The Globe and Mail

The revelation that Manitoba has seen a spike in the number of foster children being placed in hotels – even after the government promised last fall to reduce its reliance on them – is spurring calls for a centralized system that tracks available foster beds across the province.

The Globe and Mail reported Monday that extremely vulnerable government wards, mostly aboriginals, are still being placed in hotels under the supervision of third-party workers. On a single day earlier this month, one downtown Winnipeg establishment hosted at least 10 foster charges, including a three-month-old infant.

Progressive Conservative family services critic Ian Wishart said a centralized registry is long overdue and could lead to fewer children and youth being placed in hotels, where he believes security is unsatisfactory. Foster beds in Manitoba are spread across 28 Child and Family Services agencies operating under four different authorities. Without a central list, it is possible that one agency might have an excess of beds while another has a shortage and resorts to hotel rooms.

Story continues below advertisement

"This is a real weakness in our system," Mr. Wishart said. "We're not satisfied with the speed of changes here."

He said the head of one shelter for teenaged girls just outside Winnipeg told him last fall that the night Tina Fontaine was placed at the Best Western Charter House, the facility had five available beds. Tina, a Sagkeeng First Nation teenager, was found dead shortly after going missing from the downtown hotel in August. Her killing prompted renewed scrutiny of the child welfare system and reignited calls for an inquiry into Canada's murdered and missing aboriginal women.

Retired judge Ted Hughes, who has closely examined the Manitoba foster-care system and led a high-profile inquiry into one child's death in care, called the registry a "must" and said the province should get it running as soon as possible.

Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said in the fall the government was working to create a registry accessible to all CFS agencies, but she would not provide a timeline. She said "barriers" need to be broken down – some agencies with available beds, for example, might want to keep their vacancies in case they later need the space.

Asked again about the registry this month, Ms. Irvin-Ross said staff are working to improve co-ordination among agencies and that the central list remains a work in progress. "It's going to take a while," she said. "Sharing of information sometimes can be complicated."

The government announced in November it would take steps to scale back its reliance on hotels for emergency placements and move away from third-party supervisors. Ms. Irvin-Ross pledged to create 71 new emergency foster-home spaces and, over the course of two years, hire 210 permanent child-care workers. As of mid-March, the government had created 57 new emergency spaces and had hired about a dozen child-care workers.

Among the foster charges living at the Best Western Charter House this month was Tina's cousin. Mr. Wishart noted Tina's homicide investigation is continuing and expressed concern that a "predator" is possibly at large. "We're especially concerned that someone who is in an almost identical situation [to Tina] would be left at risk," he said of the girl's cousin.

Story continues below advertisement

Since assuming her Family Services post in the fall of 2013, Ms. Irvin-Ross has not visited the Best Western Charter House floor where CFS charges are sometimes placed. Mr. Wishart said he went to the hotel in the wake of Tina's death to see the situation for himself and came away with safety concerns.

"It's pretty unsecure, in my mind," he said. "You can just walk in and [the foster charges] could just walk out. … I think all that would happen is that [third-party supervisors] would make note of what [the foster charges] are wearing so they could report them missing."

The hotel manager did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an earlier interview, she said she had "no comment" on hotel placements or security policies.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies