Quebec is injecting an additional $47 million into the province’s youth protection system in an attempt to protect vulnerable children.
Minister of Health and Social Services Lionel Carmant announced Thursday that the money would be used to hire nearly 400 professionals in the hopes of eliminating wait lists.
The $47 million will be distributed by region depending on how many employees need to be hired.
The regions of Montreal and the Montérégie receive the lion’s share with the expectation that they will hire 66 and 53 new employees, respectively.
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As for the apparent lack of personnel to fill the positions, Carmant said he believes adding more staff will partially solve the problem: adding new employees will alleviate the workloads of those already working, which could encourage them not to leave, he explained.
The minister said he is expecting new graduates, especially those studying social work, to fill the positions that will soon be posted.
“It’s a first step for us,” he said.
Carmant said more actions could be taken, depending on the findings of the Laurent Commission, a special team analyzing children’s rights and youth protection in Quebec.
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Lead by Régine Laurent, the commission is expected to begin working this fall to review the government’s approach to helping vulnerable children.
The system’s severe shortcomings were highlighted most recently in the case of a seven-year-old girl from Granby who, despite having a file with youth protection services, suffered repeated mistreatment and eventually died of her injuries.
Currently, there are thousands of vulnerable children in the province who are on wait lists for months before receiving services.