Background Content

Child Welfare (1-5)

Update on Progress implementing Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry Recommendations

November 24, 2016


Office of the Children’s Advocate: Nov. 24, 2016 (29% of recommendations are completed)

On March 25, 2011, Manitoba’s Attorney General Andrew Swan announced that the Honourable Ted Hughes would conduct an Inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Phoenix Sinclair (Manitoba, 2011b). The scope of the Inquiry was to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Phoenix Sinclair and, in particular, to inquire into:

  • the child welfare services provided or not provided to Phoenix Sinclair and her family under The Child and Family Services Act;
  • any other circumstances, apart from the delivery of child welfare services, directly related to the death of Phoenix Sinclair; and
  • why the death of Phoenix Sinclair remained undiscovered for several months.

Commissioner Hughes was also directed to consider the findings and recommendations of six previous reports and investigations that had emerged following the death of Phoenix Sinclair, including:

  • Strengthen the Commitment: An External Review of the Child Welfare System (Hardy, Schibler, & Hamilton, 2006),
  • Audit of the Child and Family Services Division, Pre-devolution Child in Care Processes and Practices (Manitoba Auditor General, 2006),
  • “Honouring Their Spirits” The Child Death Review (Office of the Children’s Advocate, 2006a), and
  • “Strengthening Our Youth” The Journey to Competence and Independence (Office of the Children’s Advocate, 2006b).

The additional two reports, completed by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Office of the Children’s Advocate respectively, were specific to the services provided to Phoenix Sinclair and her family, and were not publicly released.

It is concerning that, based on submitted and verified information, only 29% of the recommendations of the Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry were found to be complete or complete and ongoing as of September 30, 2016. Interestingly, eight of the completed recommendations appear to have been addressed through a review of existing policies and standards, and confirming that these already addressed the recommendations.