Yesterday I stood up in Question Period to challenge the government on a difficult issue - the failure of the province to provide social services to at-risk children - or to even report that these children need help.
Who is accountable for holding up the law, and protecting these children? The Attorney General refused to answer.
Two recent BC Representative for Children and Youth reports outline the problem: Over 12 years and $66 million was wasted, while children at risk of harm were ignored. Under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, failure to report that a child needs protection is an offense -- yet so far, this government has not taken action. To read the reports, including "Lost in the Shadows," I encourage you to visit www.rcybc.ca.
Coverage from the Victoria Times Colonist:
Sunday March 2, 2014
DUCK DUCK GOOSE
The Liberals performed a razzle-dazzle worthy of the Harlem Globetrotters to avoid a question from Vicki Huntington.
The Independent MLA directed a query at Justice Minister Suzanne Anton only to see it pass to Social Development Minister Don McRae, who then got up and directed it to Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux.
All well and fine except that while Anton and McRae were both present, Cadieux was nowhere in sight.
Outside, Anton told reporters that it was deputy house leader Todd Stone who decided the best minister to answer the question was the one missing from action.
Last we checked, Huntington was still waiting for an answer.
PROTECTION OF FIRST NATIONS
CHILDREN AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN
CHILD PROTECTION SYSTEM
V. Huntington: The Representative for Children and Youth has revealed the complete collapse of the B.C. child welfare system in aboriginal communities. She's also reported that the government spent 12 years and $66 million on a talk-a-lot policy that failed every single child it was meant to help.
Tragic suicides of 14-year-old children are the only legacy this government has to show for its total failure to govern. How many times must the child welfare system continue to fail these children? How many interactions with government care workers, contractors, nurses, doctors, police and band council social workers does a young person require before the system moves to protect that child?
I'd ask the Attorney General to talk to us about accountability. Who is accountable when a policy goes so wrong that frightened children choose death by their own hand, the child committing suicide because no one stepped in? Where does the accountability lie? Who is held to account?
Hon. D. McRae: The Minister of Children and Family Development is not in attendance today. She has asked me to take this question on notice.
DUTY TO REPORT CHILDREN
IN NEED OF PROTECTION IN
FIRST NATIONS COMMUNITIES
V. Huntington: I thought that was a fair question to the Attorney General.
Under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, failure to report that a child needs protection is an offence. It is illegal. Reporting children in danger is everyone's duty, but it is the professional duty of social workers, health practitioners and police — the very people we entrust with the welfare of our children.
The investigation by the representative found multiple instances when a child needed protection, but no reports were filed, and thus, no action was taken. It's obvious that voluntary compliance with this law is not working.
I know that First Nations don't want non-aboriginals to make decisions about the welfare of their children, and I understand that completely. I also understand how difficult the pressures are on government workers, given that attitude. But the fact is that if any community, aboriginal or otherwise, is unable to care for the welfare of a vulnerable child, then the province has a duty to act. The law is clear. You either change it or you enforce it.
Has the Attorney General determined how she will enforce the Child, Family and Community Service Act? Has she determined how she will follow up on the systemic failure to report that a child was in need of protection?
Hon. D. McRae: Again, to the member for Delta South, the Minister of Children and Family Development has asked me to take this question on notice.
TRANSPORTATION MINISTER ATTENDANCE
AT FERRY CONSULTATION MEETINGS
C. Trevena: I think that what we've just seen here is a disgraceful abrogation of responsibility. This government doesn't sit for 200 days and cannot answer a simple question. The people deserve better. How dare they do this to the people of B.C.? I hope that we get a bit more….