‘Exhausted’: Meth crisis forcing grandparents to raise grandchildren

CTVNews.ca Staff , with a report from CTV Manitoba Bureau Chief Jill Macyshon
Published Friday, January 18, 2019 10:25PM EST

Methamphetamine addiction is growing and that’s leaving some grandparents with little choice but to cancel retirement so that they can look after their grandchildren full-time.

“It’s the grandparents doing the parenting because the parents are unable or unqualified to parent,” said one Manitoba woman who’s fighting to adopt her two grandsons due to her daughter’s addiction.

“They get a taste of those drugs, a taste of the meth, and that’s it,” she said. “They’re hooked.”

Her grandsons, ages two and three, were born addicted to the drug. Both have special needs.

“I’ve lost being a grandmother to these kids,” she said. “I’m not a grandmother to them. I’m their mom.”

Another grandmother from Manitoba has spent her retirement savings to legally adopt her granddaughter after addiction took her daughter.

She says that grandparents like her need more financial support in order to cope.

In Ontario and British Columbia, grandparents raising their grandchildren can get up to $400 extra per month. In Manitoba, there’s no extra financial help.

“Something’s got to give,” she said. “They have to wake up and see that this is an issue and it’s only getting worse.”

An estimated 32,520 children under the age of 14 are now living solely with their grandparents, according to Statistics Canada.

Cangrands National Kinship Support, which helps support relatives raising grandchildren, says addiction is creating a growing number of unfit parents.

Founder Betty Cornelius said she planned to retire at age 55 but is still working at 67 because of the unexpected cost of raising a granddaughter.

“We call it the work until you die program and everyone says that’s cute,” she said. “No, it’s not. We’re exhausted.”