The Manitoba Government has committed to financially supporting dedicated police resources to establish a provincial-level integrated child abuse response that will connect child victims and their families from across Manitoba.
Premier Heather Stefanson says they will receive wraparound, child-centred supports.
“Our government is proud to stand with the women and men in uniform from across the province who put their lives at risk every day to protect our most vulnerable Manitobans and help make our streets safer,” said Stefanson. “Our government will continue to work collaboratively with law enforcement and community partners to get violent criminals off the streets and provide the necessary supports to help Manitobans heal from their trauma.”
Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen, MLA for Steinbach, says Manitoba has seen an increase in child abuse and exploitation.
“This is an unacceptable reality,” he adds. “And our government is taking concrete action to intervene, protect children and families, and ensure perpetrators are held to account for their actions.”
The initiative will build on the success of the child-centred support model offered by the Toba Centre for Children and Youth and its collaboration with the Winnipeg Police Service and Royal Canadian Mounted Police as part of its mandate to ensure every victim of child abuse and every child witness to violence is heard, helped and healed, Goertzen noted.
“The development of an integrated, specialized child abuse unit, housed at Toba Centre is a huge step forward in ensuring children and families who experience abuse receive the response they deserve,” said Christy Dzikowicz, executive director, Toba Centre for Children and Youth. “Manitoba is well on its way to having the most coordinated, collaborative and community-involved child abuse response in the country.”
Having wraparound care is critical for the well-being of children and families involved in investigations and having dedicated, integrated police resources will help to make this model available to children across the province, the premier and minister noted.
Winnipeg Police Service and Toba Centre have demonstrated how police services and community-based organizations can support each other for the benefit of the citizens they serve, the premier noted, adding that RCMP, Manitoba First Nations Police Service and the Brandon Police Service have indicated strong support of this effort and are committed to working together to support the provincewide work of the new team.
The integrated child abuse investigation team is one part of the Department of Justice’s Violent Crime Strategy, which is being supported with nearly $52 million in Budget 2023.
“With our Violent Crime Strategy, we are creating a balanced approach to creating safer streets,” said Goertzen. “We are addressing the root causes of crime with more funding for homelessness and overnight shelters, while cracking down on violent criminal and repeat offenders.”
The comprehensive strategy will address serious crime and reduce victimization through supporting integrated public safety approaches that specialize in strategic criminal intelligence and proactive violence intervention, Goertzen said.
The creation of the Integrated Violent Offender Apprehension Unit that strengthens intensive bail and supervision for serious, violent offenders is another key component of the strategy.
This $3.2-million investment uses strategic criminal intelligence and risk assessment tools to target the most violent offenders and those who have warrants that present the highest risk to re-offend or breach court conditions.
Additional resources to the Criminal Organization High-Risk Offender Unit will further see high-risk offenders given intensive supervision to protect Manitobans.
Manitoba Prosecution Service has also been allocated an additional $1.4 million in Budget 2023 to increase capacity to address violent crime related to serious, illegal firearms offences and organized crime.
Minister Goertzen noted further measures to support safer streets and stronger communities will be announced in the coming weeks as part of the Violent Crime Strategy and Budget 2023.