P.E.I. 'noticeably missing' from national child advocate council

P.E.I. 'noticeably missing' from national child advocate council

Norman Bossé says when he and his fellow child advocates from around the country meet to discuss issues, there is one glaring omission.

"Noticeably, P.E.I. is missing," said Bossé, the child advocate for New Brunswick and member of the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates.

"Not having Prince Edward Island at the table is quite unfortunate. It's part of the fabric of Canada."

P.E.I. is the only province without a child advocate, despite the recommendation from the Campbell-Hennessey inquest.

The Opposition PCs and Green Party leader have been pressing the province on why the recommendation hasn't been implemented.

Independent of government

The province said it is considering hiring a child lawyer, but in an interview on CBC News: Compass, Bossé said a child lawyer would likely not have the same independence as a child advocate.

He said his office is completely independent of any government office. And while he is unable to change the laws or the policies of the province, he has the "power of recommendation."

For example, he said, after a report his office did in 2015 called More Care, Less Court, the number of youth incarcerated in New Brunswick dropped from 25 to 30 a month to eight to 10.

Bossé said his New Brunswick office has an annual budget of $924,000, which includes nine staff. He estimates P.E.I. could set up an office with about four staff for $500,000 to $600,000.

'Learn from one another'

He said the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates would benefit from having a representative from P.E.I., and P.E.I. would benefit from hearing issues in other provinces.

"We all learn from one another," he said. "We feel it's important for P.E.I. to have a representative to let us know what is going on in the province."

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