Over the years I have seen a dramatic increase
in the number of families of Filipino heritage who are taking on
one of Manitoba’s greatest social needs and I am not talking
If you visit any of our healthcare facilities in Manitoba, you will
see how the Filipino community clearly plays the role of providing
care for those who have a need for healthcare services. Compare
that to foster care parents where the community has been playing
a larger role every year in opening their homes to children in need.
Allow me to provide some background. Manitoba has approximately
9,000 children requiring foster care in some form, and a large percentage
of those children have serious medical, emotional and other problems.
These problems often cause them to react by running away, stealing,
lying, and lead them to physical and verbal aggression. They can
be a real challenge to their foster home.
All children are entitled to be in a stable and loving environment
but sadly, that is not the case for thousands of children and that
is the reason we need foster parents. It is a serious problem and
the government is not doing enough on the issue.
I recall raising concerns inside the Manitoba Legislature prior
to becoming a Member of Parliament on this same issue. I talked
about how Manitoba’s childcare advocate stated that we were
in a crisis situation. As the number of children in foster care
continues to be a problem here in Manitoba (more so than most other
provinces), it is time that the Government takes more tangible actions
to improve the lives of our children.
Having highlighted the issue, I would like to share two striking
examples of foster care and the positive profound impact it can
have on a child.
Over 10 years ago when I was at a Filipino seniors fiesta event
on Euclid Avenue when I saw Mr. Teodoro who was with a foster child.
I was getting ready to leave when this eight year- old child looked
up to Mr. Teodoro and stated “I want to be a Filipino.”
Mr. Teodoro smiled and gave him a hug. It was an expression of love
and something I suspect was not a common occurrence for this particular
Years later, I was at a house on Aberdeen Avenue with Henry Celones
when I met a wonderful couple and they shared some bad news that
they just received. They had been providing foster care to a little
girl since birth and now was turning six years old. The social worker
had informed them that the child’s biological mother who had
drug and crime issues now wanted her child back.
While listening to the foster dad explain to me the situation, their
foster daughter ran into the living room and sat on her foster mom’s
lap. In observing the relationship between the two of them, one
would never suspect that she wasn’t her own biological child.
To me it raised a very important issue and to this day, I am not
sure if the system is working as effectively as it should be in
the child’s favor.
I have come to know many families who now are providing foster care
to children of all ages and many different issues surface. I am
thinking it might be time that we form a stronger advocacy group
-- a group that is committed to putting our children first, instead
of financial concerns, or the protection of foster parents and biological
parents. If you are interested in forming such a group, let me know
by emailing me at email@example.com.