The Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth (MACY) released a new report Thursday morning.
It reveals the challenges young people face and what solutions are needed to address those problems.
The Right to Be Heard found substance use, mental health issues, poverty and violence topped the list.
Nearly 80 per cent of youth who participated identified the need for more mental health and addiction services in Manitoba.
They also wanted more community-based recreation activities and improved access to sexual health programs, schools, affordable housing, and public transportation.
“(A) key thing that we’re hoping comes out of a report like this, is that it provides organizations, youth-serving organizations, governments of all levels – whether it’s Indigenous governments, whether it’s the provincial government, anyone who has influence over the lives of young people, in the lives of young people – that there’s information in this report that can be useful for you,” said acting Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Ainsley Krone.
“They identify what it looks like in their communities to live through some of these things, they identify ideas and solutions that, I think, can be really inspiring for those of us who hold positions where we have influence in the lives of young people.”
MACY is an independent office of the Manitoba legislature, not a part of any government department. It supports and advises children, youth, and young adults of their rights and the services that should be available to them.
It also has the responsibility to conduct child-centred research, investigate the serious injuries and deaths of young people, and issue formal recommendations to improve public services.
For this report, MACY heard directly from 293 youth in 63 locations through 11 focus groups and an online survey. Nearly 40 per cent of respondents identified as Indigenous.
Call to action
“This is really a call to action, and a challenge in some ways to all of us to really listen to the voices of young people in the work that we do every day,” Krone added.
Sophia Stang is part of the Youth Ambassador Advisory Squad (YAAS!) that helped gather youth input for the project.
YAAS! is comprised of youth from across Manitoba who have current and past experience in areas MACY has responsibilities.
“It’s important for us to have a group like this to show…what the youth voice is, ” said Stang.
“That’s why this (report’s) important…because it’s really reaching out and listening to the voice of youth all across the province.”
Indigenous youth, youth living in northern Manitoba, youth in custody, and youth who have emigrated to Canada all provided feedback for the report.
While Krone won’t put forward any formal recommendations from the report, she hopes governments and decision makers use the information to set priorities and funding.
“Young people often tell us – even though they have a lot of opinions and they have a lot of things to say – that adults frequently forget to listen to them and ask for their opinions.”
Youth are still welcome to participate in the survey online here.