Calls for youth protection dropping in Montreal, but waiting list getting longer

Although Montreal's Youth Protection Departments (DPJ) are reporting a drop in the number of reports compared to the previous year, the waiting lists are getting longer, notably because of a lack of interveners.

A total of 741 children are waiting for protection in the territory of the Quebec metropolis. This number is "extremely worrying" for the Director of the DPJ of the CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l'île-de-Montréal, Assunta Gallo.

"We have never seen waiting lists so high in Montreal, but also in other regions. This can be explained by the fact that we have had increases in reports in other years, but also by the fact that we have a shortage of manpower," she said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The director of the DPJ at the CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'île-de-Montréal, Linda See, said that the hiring of workers could "quickly" help reduce its waiting list.

A lot of effort is being put into recruiting and retaining staff, Gallo said. There are about 50 positions to be filled in Montreal to meet the demand.

DROP IN REFERRALS

In terms of reports, the city's DYPs processed more than 15,000 between April 2020 and March 2021, according to their annual report published Wednesday. A 3 per cent decrease could be explained by the containment at the beginning of the pandemic, Gallo said. 

In her view, however, the decrease does not mean the situation is improving.

"The moment the school settings have (re)opened, we see an increase in reports. Are we going to see the same trends as in previous years? That remains to be seen," she said.

However, cases of psychological abuse have increased in Montreal, with 1,821 reports retained compared to 1,654 in the previous year. And in 75 per cent of these cases, children are exposed to domestic violence, Gallo said.

Referring to the 14 femicides that have happened in Quebec since the beginning of the year, Gallo wants to focus on this phenomenon that affects mothers of children by focusing on prevention.

In Quebec as a whole, the number of reports has dropped somewhat to 117,904 compared to 118,316 in 2019-2020. There was a significant drop in the number of reports during the first months of the pandemic, but the number of cases processed, however, increased by 2.7 per cent to a total of 44,728.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 22, 2021. 

Newsletters

Breaking News alerts, info on contests, and special offers from partners