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Province announces support for families as awareness of domestic issues ‘heightened’ during COVID-19

There has been a “heightened awareness” of domestic issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, says Minister of Justice and Public Safety Bloyce Thompson.

“It’s definitely something we are paying attention to and … there are extra resources put towards it right now,” he said during a news briefing Tuesday.

Thompson and Natalie Jameson, the minister responsible for the status of women, announced new supports for families, including a non-partisan table to promote and protect the rights of children and youth during COVID-19.

Jameson said the mandate of the table is to engage children and youth, including children in care and in provincial facilities, and to identify issues and potential solutions while the province awaits the formal appointment of the independent child and youth advocate. 

A competition for the child and youth advocate has concluded but the appointment requires a vote in the legislative assembly.

Jurisdiction of child and youth advocate

The future of the table would then be under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, which will have authority over scope, membership, roles and functions thereafter.

“Promoting and protecting the rights of children and youth is a responsibility we all share,” Jameson said.

We know that parenting isn’t easy at the best of times.— Bloyce Thompson, minister of justice and public safety

The table is chaired by Green Party MLA Karla Bernard. Other members include Jameson, Liberal MLA Gordon McNeilly and representatives from government departments and community agencies providing services to children, youth and their families.

The government also announced the creation of the Co-parenting Action Team (CAT) to help address the challenges of separation, divorce and parenting from multiple homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know that parenting isn’t easy at the best of times,” said Thompson. 

“The CAT programs is available to anyone who needs that extra hands-on help to navigate government and community programs and services.”

Parents will have access to a free online course called Positive Parenting from Two Homes, which will give them a greater understanding of their children’s needs  — as well as their own —through the separation or divorce process.

More from CBC P.E.I.

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