News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

June 22, 2022


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New Youth Leadership Council will Invite Young Manitobans with Lived Experience to Share their Ideas Directly with Minister, Senior Leadership: Squires

The Manitoba government is investing in three programs – a Youth Leadership Council, a Safe Ride pilot program and an initiative to support front-line youth care practitioners – to better support the health and well-being of youth throughout the province, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced today.

“Our government is committed to supporting the development of healthy children and youth, who are the future of our province,” said Squires. “We are investing in these three programs to proactively improve the services they receive that promote their health, well-being and safety.”

Manitoba Families is creating a Youth Leadership Council to engage community experts and youth from across the province to provide their perspectives, insights and advice on current and emerging issues for youth who access services offered by the department including those who:

  • are in the care of child and family services agencies,
  • live with disabilities,
  • live with families that receive Employment and Income Assistance,
  • live in Manitoba Housing, and
  • have experienced homelessness.

The Youth Leadership Council will reflect the diversity of Manitoba including 2SLGBTQQIA+ youth, the minister noted.

The council’s initial project will be to produce a high-level report about the effects of COVID-19 on youth who receive services from Manitoba Families’ programs, as well as recommendations on how to modernize and adapt these programs to better address the needs of youth.

The council will be active for the next two years and will be co-chaired by Kerri Irvin-Ross, executive director at The Link: Youth and Family Supports.

“I am excited to walk alongside youth and community members from across Manitoba to listen, learn and work toward building systems that honour the gifts of youth and are responsive to their unique needs,” said Irvin-Ross. “I encourage youth from across Manitoba to apply for this exciting opportunity and help lead this important initiative.”

Manitoba Families is currently recruiting five community experts from organizations that provide services to or promote the rights of youth, as well as six youth members aged 15 to 21 that reflect Manitoba’s diversity to become council members for the first one-year term beginning in the fall.

Youth members will benefit from the mentorship of experienced community leaders and will receive an honorarium for their participation and one youth member will be appointed as co-chair of the council.

Applications are due by Aug. 31. The application form is available at

The Safe Ride pilot program is a new initiative of Manitoba Families, in partnership with the Child and Family All Nations Coordinated Response Network (ANCR), which helps facilitate the safe return of absent and missing youth in care, the minister noted. This $1.7-million initiative will reduce the risks for youth in care by ensuring they always have access to safe transportation back to their placement. The Safe Ride program is currently available Tuesday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 4 a.m., but its schedule may be adjusted if needed.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide this important service that ensures the safety of our children. The dedicated safe rides teams are in the field meeting youth where and when they are most in need and getting them to a safe place,” said Sandie Stoker, executive director, Child and Family All Nations. “We recognize the efforts of the service partners that saw the need for this resource and helped to develop and resource the program. In the first month since the program has gone live, we have provided over 100 safe rides for children in care.”

Following the success of the 2021 funding initiative that supported professional development activities for youth care practitioners, the Manitoba government is investing an additional $4.91 million to further support the group care sector’s workforce, Squires noted. Community care providers, who provide placement resources to youth in care in licensed group care settings, will have sufficient flexibility to determine how to best use the funding to respond to critical front-line staffing pressures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated pressures experienced by staff who work tirelessly to provide high-quality essential services for youth,” said Squires. “This funding will promote a trained and knowledgeable workforce, which will provide stability within the group care sector and better meet the needs of youth receiving services.”

For more information on the Youth Leadership Council, visit

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