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'Absolutely deplorable': Program for parents of murdered, missing children delivers few payments

From CBC - April 8, 2018

A federal fund launched to help the parents ofmurdered or missing children through income support has delivered a paltry number ofpayouts,despite the Liberal government's vow to better promote and manage the program.

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos promised to improve outreach efforts and overhaul the granting process after a review last summer showed administration costs for the Parents of Missing or Murdered Children (PMMC) granting program were about 14 times the sum of the actual grants.

Since then, the total of the program's income support grants hasgone down, not up.

According to statistics provided to CBC byhis office, 12 applications were submitted to the program in the 2017-2018 fiscal year; nineof them were approved. Total payments came to $86,450less than one per cent of the $10 million available in the annual fund.

That's down slightly from the previous year, when the program paid out $92,050 to six families.

"The outreach did not have a big impact. That's why we are working hard on changing the program, especially to expand the eligibility of the programso that more families can benefit from it," Duclos' spokeswoman EmilieGauduchon-Campbelltold CBC News in an email.

"We were hoping to announce the changes before the end of 2017, but to do everything right, we had to postpone it."

Gauduchon-Campbellsaid the department has been working to increase outreach efforts, review applicationrequirements and provide more informationonline to make the program easier to understand and access.

She said she could not specify the changes under consideration.

'Badly designed, poorly presented'

When the former Conservative government brought in the program Jan. 1, 2013, it was meant to support roughly1,000 families each year.Gauduchon-Campbellsaid it was "badly designed, poorly presented and poorly sold."

"That's why, with the input of stakeholders and the ombudsman for victims of crimes, we are working to bring changes to this programand are planning to announce them this year," she said.

"Our government will make sure this program helps and supports families who face such tragic circumstances."

The program offers $350 per week in income support for up to 35 weeks to help families who are coping with the death or disappearance of a child due toa probable criminal offence.

JosephWamback, founder of theCanadian Crime Victim Foundation, said the Liberal government has failed to fix aprogram intended to offermuch-needed assistance to parents experiencingintense pain over the loss of a child.Pointingthe finger at a previous administration is not good enough, he added.

"It's absolutely deplorable. There have been no efforts," he said.

Ombudsman reviewed program

Streamliningthe application process

229 child deaths in 5 years

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