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Manitoba Government Press Release–The Manitoba government applauds TELUS for donating tablets and data plans to help ensure children coming into care can stay connected with family members and other important supports during the COVID-19 pandemic, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

“Re-establishing a connection with safe and trusted family members is incredibly important for children who must come into care, and this has become an even greater challenge as we are all social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Stefanson. “Through our partnership with TELUS, children will be able to text or video chat with family and other loved ones, stay on top of school assignments and remain connected. Together, we are supporting vulnerable youth so they can continue to feel connected to family members, elders and siblings during this difficult time.”

TELUS has donated more than 120 tablets with data plans to the province. The majority will go to emergency placement shelters operated by Winnipeg Child and Family Services (CFS), which are used until arrangements that are more permanent can be made for children coming into care and to provide a safe place for youth who may be in safe havens or group care settings. Some of the tablets will go to small operators who provide services to at-risk youth. The tablets will help children to quickly reconnect with family members, friends, teachers and other supports, creating stability during this challenging time, the minister noted.

“TELUS is deeply committed to keeping Manitobans safe and connected during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the province’s most at-risk and vulnerable citizens,” said Tim Prokipchuk, director of sales, TELUS. “This public health crisis has reminded us all of the importance of human connection, and it is a privilege for our team to be able to provide access to the devices and service needed for children to stay in touch with loved ones, educators and vital support services.”

Eighty-five tablets will be used by Winnipeg CFS. The remaining tablets will be distributed to community partners that also provide emergency as well as longer-term placements and supports for vulnerable children from across the province including:
• Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre (11 tablets);
• Neecheewam (seven);
• Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad (six);
• Blue Thunderbird Family Care (five);
• Roots Youth Care (four);
• Reach Youth Services (three); and
• Jessie Home (two).

“These are indeed trying times, especially for children and youth in care,” said Karl Gompf, acting executive director, Jessie Home. “The TELUS donation is coming at a crucial time and is like a breath of fresh air. Keeping in touch with family and friends and enhanced contact with teachers is so essential for the positive mental health of our young people. From the staff and residents, virtual hugs.”

The minister noted this partnership builds on the Manitoba Protection Plan, a series of government-wide initiatives to support Manitobans through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A comprehensive list of Manitoba government COVID-19 measures can be found at:
https://manitoba.ca/bg/2020/04/covid19.html.