Friday, January 15, 2016


             The B.C. Ministry of Children is in the news almost every day. The items are invariably unpleasant. Two more headline stories this week, indications of a systemic limitation - control and accountability. It's not Stephanie Cadieux's fault. The Honourable Minister is an honourable woman. She cannot be responsible for what social workers and their supervisors decide and effect. Ministers change yet the negative press repeats year after year. Protection of children and care for vulnerable children is undeniably difficult and problematic. Before she is moved on, she and her office must genuinely dialogue with Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Representative for Children and Youth and official watchdog over the Ministry of Children, and address jointly constructed plans, policies and action steps to transform this Ministry. The window of opportunity may be small since Turpel-Lafond's 10-year term is finishing.
            So here are the two newsmaker articles this week.

First, the case of J.P., mother of four children who sought help from the Ministry, alleging to them that B.G., the children's father sexually abused them. Workers chose not to believe her but questioned her mental health and granted B.G. unsupervised access to the children. In court cases in 2009, 2012 and 2015, Justice Paul Walker ruled dramatically that B.G. had sexually and physically abused his children, castigated the Ministry. Then when P.J. sued the Ministry Judge Walker ruled in her favour. Consequently she was about to win the Powerball of case awards. But of course the B.C. government and the Ministry have appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeal to dismiss this civil action. That's what we heard this week.
Alex Gervais
Second, the case of 18-year-old foster child Alex Gervais, housed by the Ministry in a hotel for 49 days, and who fell to his death from a hotel window. Immediately following that September 2015 tragedy,  t
he Ministry commented that Alex was the only foster child housed in a hotel. Two days later it reported that Alex was one of two placed in hotels. One day later, the ministry said there were 23 children in hotels. Today came the staggering report issued jointly by Minister Stephanie Cadieux and Representative of Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, revealing that during a 12-month period, the government placed 117 children in hotels rather than in foster or group homes. None of us on this end of these stories understand the pressures and shortages of resources that caseworkers experience. I am speaking to the evasiveness and the smoke screening, the slippery MCFD excuses.
            This Ministry starting from the Premier's office and the Minister's office all the way down the chain must determine a new course. Perhaps placing a ceiling on how much money can be directed to legal action and lawyers; coffers, and redirecting most of that money to adequate housing options for foster children and retraining and empowering workers. If you can think of other ways such reclaimed money could be spent, I'd like to hear it.

Don't take my word for the J.P. story, read Judge Walker's the Supreme Court document of Justice Walker's rulings re: case from 2011 - 2012.
This same ruling here, in pdf. form



    Here are the links of the appeals fyi.

    1. My appreciation for these two file references as helpful resources to us as we seek to understand the case and its numerous tributary concerns. Thanks.


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