The Manitoba provincial government is spending more than $2 million to tackle Manitoba’s high number of missing persons, justice minister Kelvin Goertzen said.
Goertzen, who spoke Monday morning at a press conference with families minister Rochelle Squires as well as law enforcement and community leaders, said the money is going toward creating an integrated missing persons response team.
The team will assess risk with the help of community groups and decide how best to respond to individual cases.
Goertzen and Squires were joined by Manitoba’s top Mountie Rob Hill and Winnipeg police chief Danny Smyth at Winnipeg’s RCMP ‘D’ Division headquarters.
Heidi Spence, director of the MMIWG liaison unit for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, was also on hand.
Hill said the RCMP receives around 10 missing persons reports each day — leading to upwards of 3,500 investigations a year in the Manitoba RCMP jurisdiction alone.
“(It’s) a staggering and concerning number,” he said.
“Without a doubt, this new integrated effort will greatly enhance police response to missing persons and help us achieve our ultimate goal — ensuring that missing persons across Manitoba are found quickly and safely.”
Squires said the plan is in direct alignment with a number of recommendations from the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“We know that there are dozens of young people who are chronically reported as missing, and tragically some of these young people fall victim to violent predators,” she said.
“This response aims to both channel those chronic youth into community-support programs, while ensuring timely law-enforcement engagement on those cases that require it.”