Loading articles...

BC children's representative should focus on advocacy, not oversight: report

Last Updated Dec 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm PDT

BC's child advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (CP Photo)

VICTORIA – A leaked report looking into BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development after recent high-profile failures has criticized the provincial children’s watchdog while praising the ministry for its work amid starved resources.

The report by long-time government bureaucrat Bob Plecas says deaths and serious injuries to children in care are rare, but there is a great appetite for piling on workers and the ministry for both “perceived and real failings.”

Plecas says the relationship between the ministry and the office of the Representative for Children and Youth has become strained, and the watchdog’s numerous recommendations over the years have overwhelmed the ministry.

He says the oversight role by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond should be taken over by the ministry, while she should instead focus on advocacy.

The report also advises a multi-year plan to address the ministry’s problems including boosting staff resources, implementing quality assurance, providing oversight and putting the financial resources in place.

The Children’s Ministry has faced mounting criticism recently in the wake of a scathing report into the short, tragic life of a young Aboriginal woman, the deaths of children in care, and the case of a mother whose estranged husband was allowed unsupervised visits despite sexually abusing their four children.

The representative for children and youth has responded to this report by saying independent oversight of our province’s child welfare system remains a necessity.

Turpel Lafond claims without the public accountability her office provides, deaths of children in government care would not have been exposed.

She highlights the case of Paige, a 19 year old aboriginal woman who Turpel-Lafond says was the victim of indifference from social workers. She believes without this scrutiny, many problems would go on unaddressed.