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

New hotel planned for Salmon Arm

Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriott to build, applying for rezoning with city

Brewers create anti-fascist ale

Not For Nazis Nut Brown Ale will be ready in time for Christmas

Traci Genereaux remembered at Vernon vigil

Family and friends remember Genereaux as a “fiery red-head with the best sense of humour”

Angler fined for over-fishing on Gardom Lake

It was an expensive fishing trip for an Okanagan man this weekend.… Continue reading

Shock hits Okanagan flagging company

Experienced employee battling serious injuries after being hit by a car

Tattooing couple opens new shop in Lake Country

Cody and Fabiana Philpott opened NSI Tattoo in August

David Cassidy, teen idol and ‘Partridge Family’ star, dies at 67

Cassidy announced earlier this year he had been diagnosed with dementia

Minimal increase in city budget

Salmon Arm taxpayers to pay 1.5 per cent increase in 2018 taxes.

Piano power recognized

Several Shuswap music students scale conservatory heights

Locals excited for national special olympics

Bocce and basketball athletes to represent the Shuswap in Nova Scotia

Band strikes a Christmas note

Community concert takes place Dec. 9 at the Nexus in Salmon Arm

Author faces and triumphs over abuse

Book intended to inspire women who suffer from any form of abusive behaviour

Summerland business provides cannabidiol products

Products contain medical benefits of cannabis, but with no psychoactive properties

LETTER: Jumbo Valley is part of Ktunaxa territorial claim

Ktunaxa Nation Council responds to Tom Fletcher column

Most Read