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

Alberta had 1,571 active COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta’s central zone now has 1,101 active COVID-19 cases

Provincial death toll has risen by nine

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

(Photo submitted)
Ermineskin citizen graduates vet school, is part of busy practice

Dr. Justin Hodgson is rolling up his sleeves in Meadow Lake, Sask.

Shaela Dansereau/Pipestone Flyer
Wetaskiwin City services impacted by new public health measures

Public centers and availability to public impacted by the new public health measures.

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

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

In this undated photo issued by the University of Oxford, a volunteer is administered the coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Moderna chairman says Canada near head of line for 20 million vaccine doses

Trudeau created a firestorm when he said Canadians will have to wait a bit to get vaccinated

Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre speaks during a news conference Monday, Nov. 16, 2020 in Ottawa. Poilievre says building up the Canadian economy post-pandemic can't be achieved without a massive overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Conservatives attack Trudeau’s ‘reset’ but they have ideas for their own

‘We don’t need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer’

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta Tuesday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Spread of COVID-19 in Brampton, Ont., linked to systemic factors, experts say

‘We’re tired. We’re numb. We’re overworked. We’re frustrated, because it’s not our rules’

A couple embrace during a ceremony to mark the end of a makeshift memorial for victims of the Toronto van attack, at Yonge St. and Finch Ave. in Toronto on Sunday, June 3, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
‘I’ve been spared a lot,’ van attack survivor says as she watches trial alone

Court has set up a private room for victims and families of those killed in the Toronto van attack

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

Most Read