Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (left) and Grand Chief Doug Kelly of the First Nations Health Council stand in support of Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (left) and Grand Chief Doug Kelly of the First Nations Health Council stand in support of Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Phase out independent child advocate: report

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond rejects suggestion an internal team and MLA oversight can replace her role

The B.C. government should immediately put an extra $50 million into the budget of the troubled Ministry of Children and Family Development, and wind down the independent watchdog that highlights the worst cases of young people who die in ministry care.

Those are among the recommendations of a review by former deputy minister Bob Plecas, released Monday. Plecas said the ministry needs a four-year strategic plan to build up resources, starting with hiring 120 additional child protection social workers in the first year and building from there.

Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has issued a string of reports on child protection failures. One recent one looked at an aboriginal teen named Paige, who died of a drug overdose in Vancouver’s downtown east side after 30 child-protection reports and interventions with her alcoholic mother.

Another recent case was Alex Gervais, an 18-year-old who fell to his death in September from a fourth-floor hotel room where he had been housed by the ministry after his Abbotsford group home was shut down due to poor conditions.

Turpel-Lafond rejected Plecas’ suggestion that an internal “contrarian” and a ministry spokesperson similar to those employed by police forces would be trusted by the public to identify and report on issues in the ministry.

Plecas said privacy rules need to be changed so an all-party committee of MLAs can be briefed on child death and serious injury cases, allowing opposition MLAs to provide the oversight and criticism they bring to other ministries of the B.C. government.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said she can’t commit to specific financial measures until the provincial budget is presented in February, but she has the support of Premier Christy Clark and the cabinet to increase resources for the ministry.

Turpel-Lafond said accumulated cuts and freezes to the ministry budget leave it at least $100 million below what it needs to keep up with its caseload.

She also objected to Plecas’ statement in his report that no system will ever protect all children in government care from death, which he described as rare. There have been 90 deaths so far in the current fiscal year, Turpel-Lafond said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. Jan. 21, 2021. Kitimat RCMP photo
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

Administering naloxone to a person experiencing a benzo-related overdose event won’t help. Naloxone is used to neutralize opioids. (Jenna Hauck/The Progress file photo)
Northern Health warning drug users of potential benzo contamination

The drug does not respond to naloxone, and is being included in street drugs

The food hub survey showed that over 61 per cent respondents were looking to expand their business. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
RDBN’s food hub survey highlights producers’ needs

The project team to set up further discussion sessions with producers this year

Marianne and Peter Giesbrecht of the Vanderhoof Tim Horton’s donated $4306 to the St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society. “The funds were raised through the efforts of the 2020 Tim Horton’s ‘Smile Cookie’ campaign and graciously donated to the St. John Auxiliary towards the purchase of Panda IRES (baby warmer) for the hospital. What a great way to finish of 2020!” as stated in a social media post by the hospital auxiliary group. (St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society/Facebook)
Vanderhoof Tim Horton’s donates to St. John Hospital Auxiliary Society

Marianne and Peter Giesbrecht of the Vanderhoof Tim Horton’s donated $4306 to… Continue reading

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Jan. 21 marks the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, according to some. (Black Press Media file photo)
The 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century is upon us

Milestone won’t be back for another 100 years

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Vancouver flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

The top part of the fossil burrow, seen from the side, with feathery lines from the disturbance of the soil – thought to be caused by the worm pulling prey into the burrow. (Paleoenvironntal Sediment Laboratory/National Taiwan University)
PHOTOS: SFU researchers find evidence of ‘giant’ predatory worms on ocean floor

Fossils found the prove the existence of an ancient Taiwanese worm as long as two metres

Most Read