Office of the Official Opposition 

Furey Liberal Government Failing Province’s Vulnerable Children


For Immediate Release

(June 19, 2024, St. John’s, N.L.) – PC Leader Tony Wakeham is extremely concerned that the Furey Liberal Government has no idea if the model that is costing almost $100 million is the ‘best’ way to care for our province's children and youth with complex needs.


A CBC report revealed 913 children are in care, with 225 in staffed residential placements, up from 160 five years ago. Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest rate of children with complex needs in Canada. Spending on private companies for these children has risen by $30 million to $90 million annually, totalling $420 million over six years.


Wakeham noted that reviews by the Child and Youth Advocate in 2019 and 2021 highlighted issues with residential placements, staff training, and the need for family placements. Despite promises, changes have not been made. A 2017 task force also found poor educational outcomes for these children, but no changes followed.


"Successive Liberal ministers responsible for children have acknowledged the serious problem and promised to come up with solutions, but they have failed to deliver," said Wakeham. He also pointed out a shortage of social workers, with 105 vacancies, may be contributing to the problem.


Wakeham said that a PC Government under his leadership would take decisive action based on the advice of the Child and Youth Advocate and other community advocates to address the challenges children and youth with complex needs face. This includes investing in early intervention and creating more permanent placements for children to grow up in stable environments. Wakeham also emphasized the need for a social work human resource plan.


"The Minister said the current model is the 'best' model for Newfoundland and Labrador children and youth with complex needs.  If I were Premier today, I would immediately be trying to understand why we have the highest level of children and youth with complex needs. The status quo is not good enough, and the Minister has to be willing to make it better. What I heard last night from the Minister is that he has given up, letting costs skyrocket out of control with no idea if this model is the best way to care for those children and youth with complex needs. This Liberal Government has failed our most vulnerable children. They deserve better.”