Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

IQALUIT, Nunavut — Basic information about young people who have used government services in Nunavut isn’t being tracked because of “complacency and a lack of accountability,” says the annual report from the territory’srepresentativefor children and youth.

Jane Bates says her 2019-2020 report needed data from government departments to create baseline information on people under 19 that could help shape policies and legislation.

In March, her office sent questions to the departments of Family Services, Health, Education and Justice about where, why and how youth were getting access to services.

She says what she got back, for the most part, was incomplete.

“The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments. In some cases, inaccurate information was provided by the department’s own admission,” Bates writes in the report.

“Some service providers are not following their own department’s legislation and supervisors are not enforcing corrective actions,” she writes. “In bringing this to the attention of directors and deputy ministers, there appears to becomplacency and a lack of accountability about this from the top down.

“There is no recognition of the problem, no commitment or follow through for training and adherence to quality assurance measures, and no support to hold those responsible accountable.”

Family Services said 560 young people used its services last year, but the department did not have available data on their ages or what region of Nunavut they lived in.

The Justice Department did not provide data on how many and what type of child and youth matters were before the courts, or on the number of convictions in crimes against youth last year.

In an email to The Canadian Press, Mark Witzaney, policy and planning director with the Department of Justice, said some of the information requested by Bates was “not consistent with how this information is reported nationally or through (Statistics) Canada.”

“We did not have the ability to do the detailed statistical breakdown and analysis requested by the representative for children and youth by their deadline,” Witzaney wrote.

Health provided the least data of the four departments. It did not provide, among other things, the number of young people who used its services or the number of suicides by age in the last year.

A spokesperson for Health said the department was still compiling data for 2019-2020 when Bates made her request. A ransomware attack on the government of Nunavut last fall caused a backlog in the department’s data entry, the spokesperson said.

The department has since compiled the missing data, except for the number of youth who needed health services.

The Department of Education said in an email that itdoes not have the resources to collect information on class sizes and doesn’t have a way to note the number of students on support plans. The department also said it does not have a system to formally track violent incidents, but is in the final stage of creating one.

Bates said she’s concerned that the four departments don’t have a full picture of who they serve and therefore cannot adequately provide services.

“How are you making decisions on what services to offer? How are you budgeting to add services? How are you understanding where the gaps may be in services if you’re not tracking that information?” Bates said in an interview.

“Young people and families in Nunavut should be expecting more. They should be expecting more accountability.”

Her report also criticizes Family Services for its response to violence and physical abuse against young people.

“Investigations were inconsistently conducted into these circumstances and steps to reduce the potential risk of further exposure and/or harm to the young person(s) involved were not taken due to a lack of adequate options available for both victims and offenders, or because keeping a family together, despite safety concerns, was prioritized.”

Arijana Haramincic, executive director of Nunavut Family Services, agrees that more could be done.

“Do I believe that sometimes we’re not using our best judgment, or it hasn’t been used? Absolutely,” Haramincic said.

“That’s why there’s always improvements, more training and more focus on developing our social workers to be comfortable in making those decisions.”

The department tracks data manually, which makes it time-consuming to compile regional and age-specific information, she said.

“I take it very seriously. I look at (the report) and say, ‘Yep, we can do better.’ She’s absolutely right. Our data collection needs to improve.”

The department is working on a way to track client information electronically, Haramincic added.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
The County of Stettler has now been classified as an ‘enhanced’ region for COVID-19

According to the Province, there are now 10 active cases in the County, which has a population of 12,449 people

Annette Hunter
Clearview Public Schools and Alberta Teachers Association honours retiree Annette Hunter

Hunter taught Kindergarten, Grade 2, and Grade 3 over her 35-year career

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraising event at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal event.
Independent file photo
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

Janelle Robinson owns and operates Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. The Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions ranging from PTSD to anxiety. Mark Weber/Stettler Independent
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Rock Soup Craig Haavalsen is sleeping in a tent outside Rock Soup’s location until the Go Fund Me for Rock Soup raises $10,000. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Putting normalcy into asking for help: New non-profit sets up in Wetaskiwin

Rock Soup non-profit is a new non-secular Food Bank putting down roots in Wetaskiwin.

Wetaskiwin Composite High School. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools prepare for transition back to online learning

Grades 7-12 will are mandated to transfer to online learning starting Nov. 30, 2020.

Lawyer Devon Page, Ecojustice Canada’s executive director, pauses during a news conference in Vancouver on Wed., Sept. 26, 2012. The environmental law group has lost its bid to pause Alberta’s inquiry into where critics of its oil and gas industry get their funding. Ecojustice sought an injunction this summer to suspend the inquiry, headed by forensic accountant Steve Allan, until there is a decision on whether it’s legal. nbsp;THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Judge tosses application to pause Alberta inquiry into funding of oil and gas foes

Ecojustice sought an injunction in the summer to suspend the inquiry

Janelle Robinson owns and operates Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler. The Ranch, just north of Stettler, is an animal therapy ranch that helps those with special needs and conditions ranging from PTSD to anxiety. Mark Weber/Stettler Independent
Spirit’s Respite Ranch near Stettler provides support through animal interaction

‘I also come from a family of doers - if something that is needed isn’t there, you just figure it out’

A pedestrian makes their way through the snow in downtown Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Wild winter, drastic swings in store for Canada this year: Weather Network

In British Columbia and the Prairies, forecasters are calling for above-average snowfall levels

NDP Leader John Horgan, left, speaks as local candidate Ravi Kahlon listens during a campaign stop at Kahlon’s home in North Delta, B.C., on April 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Most Read