WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s embattled child welfare agency is under scrutiny again, after officials confirmed a dead toddler had at some point been in the care of Child and Family Services.
RCMP announced Wednesday the death of a 21-month-old girl on Peguis First Nation was being treated as a homicide.
Manitoba Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross confirmed Thursday the child had been in care but refused to provide more details.
“There was involvement with Child and Family Services with this family, I’m not able to share what the specific involvement was,” Irvin-Ross told Global News in Winnipeg. She wouldn’t say if the child was in foster care or had been reunited with her biological parents.
The little girl was brought from Peguis First Nation to nearby Percy E. Moore Hospital in Hodgson “in medical distress” at about 3 p.m. on July 17, RCMP said. She died later that evening.
The child has not been identified, and police released no information on the cause of her death. There have been no arrests in the case.
Irvin-Ross rejected comparisons to the murder of five-year-old Phoenix Sinclair, who was beaten to death by her mother and stepfather in 2005 after being in and out of foster care. The $14-million Phoenix Sinclair inquiry wrapped up less than six months ago, after taking two years to complete. Commissioner Ted Hughes made 62 recommendations to better protect children in care in Manitoba.
“I’m not prepared right now to make that comparison. I think we need to get a lot more information and evaluation about what happened,” Irvin-Ross said.
In addition to the police homicide investigation, an internal review of the child’s case is being launched, provincial officials said. The chief medical examiner will also probe the death, and the province has asked the children’s advocate to make the case a priority.