The Sask. NDP is calling on the provincial government to address concerns regarding Indigenous child welfare, by creating a Provincial Advocate for Indigenous children, review legislation and create more  supports and prevention programs.

Data provided by the Opposition suggest from 2013 to 2017 the total number of children in care has increased from approximately 4500 to more than 5200, with the percentage of Indigenous children in care rose from 67 percent to 72 percent.

“Numbers are going in the wrong direction. We’ve been calling for a review, a comprehensive one. This government promised it in 2010. Despite having record revenue, they failed then and continue to fail,” Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger told reporters Wednesday at the Legislative Building.

The NDP are echoing concerns raised by protesters of the Justice for our Stolen Children camp, who met with the provincial government earlier this month, requesting sweeping changes. In its response to the protesters the government stated that it is providing supports to children and is working with First Nations Child Welfare Agencies.

But NDP MLA Carla Beck says root causes need to be determined and solutions found. “What are the reasons kids are entering into care? And really, really put our heads together to find solutions so these kids can stay in their home where ever possible,” Beck explained.

“In the North, I’ve been calling for as well as other leaders; we’ve been calling for good wrap around services, mental health supports, treatment or healing centers. These are not just words, there’s real issues attached to each item,” Belanger said.

The government says in a statement.“One of the major drivers of change to our child welfare system here in Saskatchewan has been addressing the long-standing overrepresentation of Indigenous children in care. We have made significant strides in how we support Indigenous families to stay together, but the percentage of Indigenous children and youth who are in care remains high, as is the case across Canada.”

(PHOTO: Buckley Belanger.  Courtesy Facebook)