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July 18, 2023
Funding will Prioritize the Well-Being of Chronic Missing Persons, Provide a Co-ordinated Provincewide Inter-agency Response: Goertzen
The Manitoba government is increasing its investment in dedicated police resources for the Manitoba Integrated Missing Persons Response with a $5.2-million commitment to prioritize the well-being of chronic missing people and provide a co-ordinated inter-agency response across Manitoba, Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.
“The safety of Manitobans is our top priority, and this increased investment demonstrates our commitment to addressing the issue of missing people in our province,” said Goertzen. “By strengthening our police services and enhancing inter-agency collaboration, we aim to leverage all our collective strengths against the threat of violence and improve public safety in Manitoba.”
The Manitoba Integrated Missing Persons Response was announced in March with an initial $2.1-million commitment from the Violent Crime Strategy. The $3.1 million in new funding will support the operational plan established by Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) and the RCMP, providing a consistent and streamlined reporting, tracking and investigation approach to missing people from rural communities, municipalities and First Nations across the province.
The Integrated Missing Persons Response aligns directly with several recommendations outlined in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The need for better-supported, community-based first response and more responsive, transparent and accountable policing are central elements addressed by this initiative.
“The Manitoba First Nations Police Service embraces this opportunity to work together with the RCMP, WPS and other agencies on this most critical issue. Anytime there is a person missing, whose whereabouts is unknown, there is concern for their safety and well-being,” said Chief Doug Palson, Manitoba First Nations Police Service. “Regardless of the reason for the disappearance, the trauma experienced for family and friends can be tremendous. The draft protocol for missing persons investigations represents a commitment to co-operation between police services to reduce jurisdictional barriers and promote timely and community-responsive approaches, keeping families involved, and treated with compassion and respect.”
The Integrated Missing Persons Response unit will provide a consistent intake process for missing person reports across the province and prioritize investigations into suspicious missing persons cases.
Recent statistics provided by the Government of Canada’s Missing Persons Fast Fact Sheet highlight the urgency of this issue. In 2021 alone, there were 2,124 missing adults in Manitoba, with 37 per cent classified as runaways or chronic missing people. Manitoba had the second-highest number of missing adults per capita, with 152 reports per 100,000 people, trailing only behind British Columbia. Additionally, 5,390 missing children were reported in Manitoba in 2021, with 63 per cent of them being runaway girls. Manitoba also had the highest number of missing children per capita, with 375 reports per 100,000 people.
The minister noted the anticipated outcomes of this increased investment include a decreased number of missing people, timely and adequate investigations of suspicious missing person cases, an increased number of referrals for chronic missing youth/adults to well-being-centred supports and programs, and a decreased demand on police resources to respond to chronic missing person’s reports.
The Manitoba government remains committed to providing significant support to police services to collectively address missing people in Manitoba through targeted investments in supporting expanded police resources, added Goertzen.
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