NEWS
05/21/2015 15:19 EDT | Updated 05/21/2016 01:12 EDT

CFS agencies must follow hotel ban or risk government takeover: Minister

WINNIPEG - Manitoba's family services minister says child welfare agencies must follow a ban on housing foster children in hotels or risk being taken over by the province.Kerri Irvin-Ross says the province has issued a directive to agencies to avoid putting children in hotels by June 1.She initially told a legislature committee it's up to individual agencies follow through, but later told The Canadian Press there will be consequences for those who don't comply.Irvin-Ross says the province will keep a close eye on hotel use by agencies and will take over an agency if hotels are used frequently.A chronic shortage of foster-care spaces has forced the province to use hotels to house children — a practice that has been criticized for more than a decade.The minister tearfully promised to put a stop to it after a young girl was seriously assaulted in March.Both the girl and her alleged attacker were in the care of Child and Family Services and were being housed at a downtown Winnipeg hotel.That attack followed the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, who was killed after running away from a hotel she was being housed in by the province."There are to be no children in hotels and we will not tolerate any agency placing a child in a hotel," Irvin-Ross said in an interview Thursday. "We are working day and night with the authorities and agencies to ensure that we have the resources that are available."Manitoba has tried to end hotel use before.In 2006, then-family services minister Gord Mackintosh promised to stop using hotels by July 1, 2007, because "a hotel room is no substitute for a family room."Manitoba has about 10,000 children in care. The vast majority are aboriginal.