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Funding rollback at OCYA the latest example of out-of-touch PC priorities: Forsyth

EDMONTON, AB (February 11, 2015): With the history of child deaths in care being shrouded in secrecy under the PC government, asking the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) to “sharpen their pencils” is petty and speaks to a shocking lack of priorities, Wildrose Leader Heather Forsyth said today.

In May 2014, the OCYA saw their mandate expand with additional funding in order to assist investigating deaths of children under government care whom were receiving intervention services.

In April, former Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said, “Enabling the Child Advocate to conduct investigations for this sub group of children and youth may bring light to changes and enhancements we need to make to our services. Anything we can do to make improvements… is a good thing.”

“There’s no question the government needs to tighten its spending, but making this petty funding reduction to an office mandated to investigating the deaths of children in care is callous and just the latest example of out-of-touch PC priorities,” Forsyth said.  “OCYA is an important independent arm of the Legislature that provides essential services to vulnerable children in our province.”

The Wildrose was not given representation on the PC-dominated committee as they voted through the funding reductions.

Last year, the OCYA directly served 2700 vulnerable young people and provided legal services to 1800 more in addition to investigating deaths of children in care.

“Given the PCs are putting the finishing touches on their new MLA palaces, the fact we are once again making it easier to cloud the deaths of children in secrecy is deeply disturbing,” Forsyth said. “If the government is looking for places to ‘sharpen their pencils’, they should look at cracking down on outrageous cell and roaming charges, rolling back 30 per cent cabinet pay raises and making meaningful reductions in the layers of senior government waste.”