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Quebec’s youth protection agency ‘flawed,’ and delays put children at risk: auditor general

WATCH: The auditor general’s report, released Wednesday, focused on the agency mandated to oversee the welfare of children followed by the state, calling it flawed and accusing it of delays. Global’s Raquel Fletcher has more on the report.

Quebec’s youth protection system is marred by a series of shortcomings and the way it functions is “flawed,” according to a report issued by the province’s auditor general.

Guylaine Leclerc issued her annual report Wednesday, with a damning focus on the agency mandated to oversee the welfare of children who are being followed by the state.

In her findings, Leclerc found the average time between a case being reported to youth protection and the implementation of necessary measures in Quebec is up to 226 days.

“Children do not have timely access to the services they need to rectify the situation which endangers their safety or development,” she wrote.

READ MORE: Quebec commission on youth protection begins

In Quebec, 289 new cases are flagged to the agency on a daily basis. The auditor general’s report found that the number of cases reported to the youth protection agency has jumped by 27 per cent from about 82,000 cases in 2013 to more than 105,000 in 2019.

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Among the shortcomings facing the system, Leclerc points to issues related to the directors of youth protection (DYPs) and the province’s Health and Social Services Ministry.

When it comes to DYPs, Leclerc writes that there need to be improvements on how work is organized and better supervision of interventions. DYPs don’t always utilize the data from cases in order to better protect children and sometimes fail to identify when cases are reported more than once, she added.

READ MORE: Hundreds attend funeral of 7-year-old Granby girl found in critical condition

The report also found Quebec’s Health and Social Services Ministry does not adequately supervise DYPs. Leclerc recommends the ministry create a strategy for monitoring interventions by DYPs to “evaluate their effectiveness” and be able to intervene in a timely manner when necessary.

Global News reached out to Minister of Health and Social Services Lionel Carmant, but his office did not comment on the matter.

Québec Solidaire argues the Legault government should use its surplus to address this issue and act on the auditor general’s findings.

“Clearly, frankly, I don’t see a more important and more urgent thing to do than to invest in our children,” said Rosemont MNA Vincent Marissal.

Quebec youth protection report
Quebec youth protection report

The auditor general’s report comes as a deeper look into youth protection services in Quebec is underway.

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The Laurent commission, which began in October, was prompted after a seven-year-old girl in the care of the system died in troubling circumstances in Granby. An internal probe by the regional health authority found her case had fallen through the cracks and that the system as a whole had failed her.

The commission includes public hearings at which social workers, adolescents and employees of youth protection have been invited to appear. The commissioners have until Nov. 30, 2020 to make their recommendations.

— With files from Global News’ Raquel Fletcher and the Canadian Press