Tuesday, June 5, 2012


The B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development could learn from my dentist. I am serious about this statement. In fact, I suggest that the Hon. Mary McNeill, Minister of MCFD, confer with Dr. Kevin Orieux regarding the difficult challenges she faces in fulfilling her portfolio. I am confident he could help the Ministry not only meet its mandate, but also lessen stress and pressure for Ministry staff while simultaneously enhancing the Ministry’s reputation in the eyes of BC’s citizens.

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Why could a dentist do that? Because he’s not just a dentist. He has written two books on human dynamics and corporate psychology, so when he isn’t running the Cloverdale Dental Clinic, he is a practicing corporate consultant whose expertise helps those in leadership to fulfill their vision and purpose, by empowering their people. The following is a quote from the website of Aararat Consulting, which states Dr. Orieux’s goal to: “create a supportive environment where the rallying cry is ‘Synergy’ whereby everyone works with a unified focus to serve the holistic needs of the customer first, their
co-workers second, the company third, and themselves fourth.”

The mechanism for creating this kind of synergy is detailed in his soon to be released book Survive, Thrive or Dive, which I was asked to review. Listen to something Dr. Orieux has written. "Companies who invest to purposefully develop the potential in their people, are companies whose people become more purposely focused on developing the potential of the company. Nothing changes until the people become purpose-driven, which is why companies who want to thrive need to be people-driven, rather than profit-driven."

As it relates to the Ministry of Children and Family Development, I would paraphrase Dr. Orieux and say:
"Nothing changes until the people become purpose-driven, which is why ministries who want to fulfill their mandate need to be people-driven, rather than procedurally-driven."

In what follows I will use some of the language of Dr. Orieux’s consultation counsel to demonstrate how this might relate to the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

When I and others highlight failings and weaknesses in the Ministry of Children we do so out of concern, first for the individuals adversely affected by what we consider unnecessary, or incompetent, or even unjust actions, and secondly with concern for a Ministry whose Mission I believe is not understood or not owned by all employees. I know that the Ministry would experience a transformation if it engaged a child and family centred philosophy, which if paraphrased right out of Dr. Orieux’s book would sound like this.
1.      All of my energy, emotion, and effort is focused on making the client feel comfortable physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
2.      After I have accomplished that, then all of my energy, emotion, and effort goes into serving the needs of my co-workers physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
3.      Once I have accomplished that, then all of my energy, emotion and effort is focused on maintaining the professional image of child welfare and the health and welfare of this ministry.
4.      And my needs come fourth.

If that becomes the goal of the Ministry of Children, then the MCFD will provide the highest quality of care for children, parents and families. The holistic model of care that Dr. Orieux can teach MCFD employees goes beyond sociological, technical and judicial expertise, to encompass compassion, empathy and nurturing. Regional Directors and Supervisors will encourage Social Workers to treat all clients with respect for their intelligence by being communicative and forthright with answers to questions in easily understood language and to the client’s full satisfaction. MCFD employees will seek to empower clients with information so that informed decisions can be agreed upon with respect to children and families. MCFD employees will address client’s anxieties and concerns by listening carefully and then doing all they can to avoid, eliminate and overcome these worries and fears. MCFD employees will grasp that for the work of social welfare to be effective, clients must trust social workers and that trust must be earned and that is possible when social workers create a genuine spirit of comfort and ease by looking after clients holistically.

These same principles don’t just apply the MCFD, it applies to all provincial ministries. The government’s mandate is to serve the people, whose voices are expressed through the voting process and which determine whether people have the confidence and trust that an incumbent government is people-focused or merely procedurally-focused. In the case of the MCFD, one can review and reform and legislate endlessly with minimal improvement, whereas, getting all employees on board to embrace and be purposely engaged in an holistic mission and agenda, will transform child welfare forever. 
  • For general information regarding Dr. Orieux’s services, send your inquiries to contact@aararat.com.
  • To make arrangements for Dr. Kevin Orieux and his team to help your business thrive by creating synergy of purpose and vision among your workforce, email: corporatetraining@aararat.com.
  • To book Dr. Orieux as a key-note speaker at your conference or sales convention, email: keynotespeaker@aararat.com.


  1. No one needs much in the way of credentials to know that MCFD needs to shape up. Most would rather MCFD simply ship out.

    They promote the best interests of the child, parents are not included in the equation.

  2. It isn't the "best interest of the child" that MCFD is interested in. It is "the best interest of job justification and government funding" that they want. Every child they swipe is money in the bank for them.

  3. You know Ron; I was thinking yesterday as I weeded my greenhouse about how like twitch grass the bad habits of the children's ministry staff are. You can weed and weed and weed, but they keep coming back. All you can do is to try to stop them from taking over completely.
    This led me to thinking about the next election and who will form the next government. If the NDP get in they will know that they have a very difficult job reforming the ministry. They will not want to repeat the mistakes made in all former attempts at reform. Legal fixes and administrative fixes do not work to correct ignorance and hostility. When Nicholas Simons was opposition critic, I met with him trying to get him fired up in going to bat for the Baynes. Poor fellow wanted to do something,but he had llimited tools available. The ministry is structured so as to keep politicians at a safe distance. He did make one comment when we were on the topic of addictions. I mentioned that when I was director of addiction counselling services in Victoria, that I encouraged people to aim for total abstinence. We had so many people earnestly seeking help with their addictions, that I wanted to give priority to total recovery. I was not keen on methadone maintenance etc. Nicholas made the point that harm reduction goals were better than nothing. Personally, I think that harm reduction programmes are hard to qualify and they would not be my priority.
    However, having said that, I began to ponder the possibility of applying the concept to the children's ministry. It is most unliikely that the NDP can make deep changes in one term of office. Hopefully they can greatly improve staff training and legal representation for parents, but they will have to fight an entrenched bureaucracy and that will take time. When I made some recommendations to the current critic, what I tried to identify which problems were systemic and legal and those which were not. I reasoned that possibly some of the systemic problems could be improved by legal and administrative fixes and I made a number of suggestions along those lines. For instance changing the act to ban any type of temporary care from exceeding one year for young children. Taking mediation out of the act so that it could no longer derail time lines.
    When I looked at what I had suggested, I realised that what I had in essence done, was to recommend a programme of harm reduction. Not reduction of harm by parents to their children, but reduction of the harm done by social workers aot families and children. What a comment, aint it?


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