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.

Just Posted

Eastside Road re-opened following repairs

Section of Eastside Road closed by the Ministry of Transportation is open after repairs.

Update: Administrative error results in do-over for South Okanagan dangerous offender’s trial

Ronald Arthur Teneycke will return to Penticton court on June 5 to start the process over

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: rain, clouds, thunderstorms and flash floods

Environment Canada forecasts dreadful weather for Thursday

Gucci Mane concert officially postponed in Penticton

Agency is looking at new tour dates between the Sept. 3 and 15

Trudeau touts economic record at Liberal fundraiser in Vancouver

The Prime Minister was in B.C. for much of this week

VIDEO: Suspected arson sends five to Abbotsford hospital with smoke inhalation

Man seen throwing flammable substance in van, lighting it on fire next to home

Summerlanders urged to travel by bike

Bike to Work Week and Bike to School Week run May 27 to June 2

UPDATE: Water main break in Central Okanagan causes massive flooding

Glenmore Road and Highway 97 are affected by the water main break

Summerland Giant’s Head Run features Retro ’80s theme

Event will be held Saturday, June 1 at 6 p.m.

Music and comedy event benefit Okanagan woman’s cancer battle

Fundraiser for Sue Folliott Sunday, May 26 at The Kal

Documentary on former hockey star to air in Kelowna

The story of 5-time Stanley Cup winner Grant Fuhr comes to Kelowna June 16

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Trudeau visits Kamloops

Justin Trudeau met with the Kamloops mayor and First Nations

Most Read