Thursday, May 13, 2010
TURPEL LAFOND IS OUR MCFD WATCHDOG / Part 189 / For Love and For Justice / Zabeth and Paul Bayne/
In the words of Ralph W. Sockman, “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”
Minority player Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is demonstrating a level of courage that should evoke in the public a rush of confidence and support because she is taking the Ministry of Children and Family Development to court for a justifiable reason. That government ministry with the majority hand, recently acted in a manner that may be an embarrassment. MCFD system operations are well secreted from public eyes and Turpel-Lafond is our watchdog.
After years of performance questions and criticism, the MCFD was reviewed by a select group chaired by Hon. Ted Hughes a few years ago. Among his many recommendations in the Children and Youth Review was the creation of the Office of an objective representative for children and youth. Mr. Hughes was convinced that an independent officer of the legislature could provide valuable perspective on child services and help to improve British Columbia’s child-serving system. The Review was quite critical of the management of the Ministry of Children and Family Development yet Mr. Hughes was powerfully supportive of the work of front-line child welfare workers employed by MCFD.
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is British Columbia’s first Representative for Children and Youth. The mandate of her office is articulated in its own act, the Representative for Children and Youth Act. The Act presents a range of powers, duties and functions. There are four sections. • provide advocacy services for vulnerable children and youth and their families respecting designated services. • investigate critical injuries and deaths of children receiving child welfare services. • monitor and evaluate services to children, youth and their families to ensure their effectiveness and responsiveness, and thereby raising the degree to which the child-serving system is accountable publicly. • Finally, conduct evidence-based research that enables us to make recommendations aimed at enhancing the future development and delivery of services for vulnerable children and youth in BC.
Her office is in our (the Public's) best interests. She is B.C.’s independent child welfare watchdog. Candidly her role should be regarded as being in the government's best interests if it wants to enhance so many levels of its service to our communities. Yet Ms. Turpel-Lafond is compelled to fight for her independence right now. When B.C.’s independent child welfare rep. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond sought cabinet documents to complete an audit, the BC Liberal government introduced legislation denying her access. She filed a court petition last Tuesday saying she had hit the wall in her efforts to get government information she needs to gauge how well protected children are in B.C.
Children’s Minister Mary Polak called the petition a “waste of scarce resources” and said Turpel-Lafond’s access would be blocked unless she signs a “protocol agreement” on confidentiality — an agreement Turpel-Lafond refuses to sign. Come on Ms. Polak, don't get sucked into this protectionist posture. Who is advising you?
You should read the stories all over the press and online ….
- In the Coquitlam Now News , May 12th article “Information critical to protecting kids”
- “Minister defends decision on access to documents” Access granted to B.C.'s representative for children is 'unprecedented': Polak By Jennifer Moreau, Burnaby Now May 12, 2010
- Children's rep is fighting for independence”, By Paul Willcocks, Times Colonist May 12, 2010
- B.C.'s child-welfare watchdog gets early court date for petition against B.C. Government", By Rob Shaw, timescolonist.com May 6, 2010 and Vancouver Sun
- WHAT IS MCFD TRYING TO HIDE?, May 03, 2010, Tracey Young, MSW RSW