Government gets into the parachute sewing business

Earlier, we reported embattled children and family development assistant deputy minister Jeremy Berland had taken on a two-year secondment with the University of Victoria. But guess what? In a scrum today, the minister responsible Stan Hagen admitted that secondment will be financed by the government. "It wasn't my decision. I wasn't asked to make that decision. But that decision was part of the negotiations," said Minister Hagen.

So if he didn't make that decision, who did? "That would be done at a senior level of the bureaucracy," Minister Hagen replied, adding he "found out on Friday that negotiations were underway between the University of Victoria and Mr. Berland," who earned $114,896 in the last fiscal year. That's a full day after we told you about rumours the senior bureaucrat was on his way out.

Minister Hagen didn't respond to questions as to why Mr. Berland's research work couldn't have been done by someone else at the university. Nor could he could say whether the premier's office had been involved in those secondment negotiations. Although he denied Mr. Berland's depature had anything to do with the ongoing investigations into the death of Sherry Charlie - an explanation New Democrat critic Adrian Dix didn't seem to buy.

"This two-year secondment, at full pay, with presumably severance to follow I don't think is the right expenditure of taxpayer dollars," said Mr. Dix. "If the University of Victoria wants to take him on, then that's an appropriate way to go about things. But for the government to be...scapegoating officials and then giving them cushy deals on the way out seems to be the wrong approach. This is chaos in the ministry of children and family development." The following is a complete copy of Mr. Berland's departure letter.

***

From: Berland, Jeremy MCF:EX
Sent: Wed, February 15, 2006 1:50 PM
To: MCF All Exchange Mailboxes

As I move on to a great new opportunity at the University of Victoria, I want to let you know how much I admire the work of the staff of the Ministry. There is no more important job in society than providing for the care of vulnerable citizens. Whether you do that behind the scenes or directly with clients, your contributions make a huge difference in the lives of thousands of people. I have had many wonderful experiences in the Ministry - lots of public consultation through the various reviews; leading the drafting of the CFCSA, acting as the Regional Director in Prince George, working with Aboriginal communities, being the Director of Child Welfare. These experiences have given me a unique and broad perspective on our work and an undying admiration for all of you who strive so hard to continually improve our services.

In 1983, when I was a child protection social worker in Vancouver, I apprehended a 13 year-old boy. He didn't like me very much and it would be an understatement to say that things did not always go very smoothly for him (or me). Many years later, he tracked me down in Victoria and said "when you were my social worker, you said I would want to talk about what happened to me, can I do that now?" We subsequently spoke at length about the horrific abuse he suffered and I helped him through a criminal trial and some other difficulties. A couple of years ago, another social worker and I were the guests of honour at this young man's wedding. I'm telling you this story as I think it is really what a career in social work should be all about - the small things you say and do that make a difference in people's lives. I know that every single member of our direct service staff in all of the programmes of the ministry has a story like that. You never know when you will get some feedback - if ever.

In my new role, I will be working closely with the Ministry on a number of child welfare related projects, so expect to be seeing and talking with many of you over the next few months. Thanks for all of your support and feedback - it actually has meant a great deal to hear from so many of you over the past couple of years. Good bye for now.

Jeremy Berland
Assistant Deputy Minister -
Regional Operations and Child Welfare

Provincial Director - CFCSA and Adoption

18 Comments

What this government appears to be best at is firing Deputy, Associate Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers and replacing them with individuals from outside of mcfd who have no background and know nothing about the work of this ministry - check out who is now "acting" in these positions. Remind me, someone please, how many Deputy, Associate Deputy and Assistant Deputy Ministers has mcfd had over the past 5 years.

Once again mcfd is thrown into a very big internal mess and I expect it will be the staff in the Regions who, despite being ignored and patronised by HQ, know how to manage and who will hold it all together, as always.

Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.

So who actually is running this Ministry?

I would suspect that this is all coming out of the premiers office. There sure has been a major house cleaning. Again.

The guy will be doing research at UVIc. Give us a break. we are paying the guy big bucks, the minister has no idea who cooked the deal1 Only in BC you say. Gordo did the deal or someone in his office Martyne Brown is my suspect and he wouldn't bother telling Stan because Stan will hang on as long as he can. He sure looked rather stupid this evening on the news. when Keith Balrdy even had to say it was wierd, you know it's really wierd. Gordo is packing for his fact finding tour in Europe. I hope his staff has told him Europeans are pretty tough on drinking drivers so he best take a few drivers along with him

It won't take long for folks to find out if this guy is actually occupying space over at UVic and what he is supposedly doing for good old Stan the dumbo, and us the ones geting used one more time

Who is running this Ministry?

A Chartered Accountant as the new Deputy with NO experience of the work of the Ministry; a 34 year old Associate Deputy with a reputation for yelling at staff.

A bean counter and a screamer.

That will surely solve the problems.

The goings on at MCFD are designed to distract attention from the incompetence and mismanagement at the political level of this government. The Liberals campaigned on the promise of putting a stop to the endless restructuring of this important, beleagured and much maligned Ministry and they've done the exact opposite, they've exascerbated it to new heights and depths. It's the Campbell gang who are causing it, not Ministry staff. The really shameful thing is how deliberate it all is.

It's been run from the Premier's office since Day 1, way back in July 2001, when Doug Walls, Sam Sullivan & co met with Ken Dobell to discuss the blueprint for restructuring MCFD to allow massive budget cuts. Walls then wrote up the plan for then Minister Gordie Hogg, and Premier Campbell, as head of the "Core Review", approved the now-infamous Walls plan just months later, before the Core Review period had even closed.

Premier Campbell's hand has driven this process, every step of the way, from adjusting his budget cuts in '03 when it became clear to all that there was no way they could get away with cutting 30%+ from child protection, to "staying the course" after the ship nearly capsized in the Walls scandal.

So Berland gets a golden liferaft to keep him quiet, just like Chris Haynes did -- one more body who's either jumped ship or been tossed overboard, along with the 5 or 6 ADMs who were tossed out when the budget cuts failed in '03, followed by Hogg & Haynes in '04, Christy Clark in '05, Allison McPhail, etc in '06...

So when Mr Hughes comes out with the bad news in a few weeks, Premier Campbell will once again be able to respond: "That was them and this is now -- We're holding course at full speed ahead!"

Does anyone know why Steve Hopkins, alias "chan", has gone to ground? Our "liberal" apologists seems to be lacking comments lately. Watch for the "liberals" to cut funding further in this department and Stan to be given a new "position". Prone.

Where is stevie hopkins and kevin larsen when the lino crap hits the fan.Come on, let's hear the apologists.
MCFD is being mismanaged and the problem with this is that it is at the expense of those who need protection and assistance.Indeed Dawn, you have articulated the political cover up which Gordon Campbell wil attempt to sell.Unfortunately this will be his legacy,a lack of ethics when it comes to the humanistic aspects of government, a stink no amount of money will hide or negating will make okay. But then he does not really care, nor does John Winters and the others who are now Dickensian characters from Oliver Twist.Speak up those of you in the business community who do care about others as you can make a big difference.This is not about NDP or Liberal anymore, it is about the culture of goverment, a government which does not have a heart or a vision except for those which are about corporate self interest.Let them know you do care about and you will not tolerate indifference. Let them know you do not agree that kids are expendable.

Thank you all for your explanations. However, I was also wondering if anyone has done a cost comparison in relation to the Campbell MCFD cost cutting saving in MCFD and the cost of all these inquires and the firing of MCFD senior staff?

It's clear that some of the correspondents here have some personal experience in the provincial Families and Children's ministry. And that the tendency to push aside qualified senior officials in favour of less qualified political apparatchiks is at least part of the problem this Ministry and others are dealing with.

If it's any consolation in a misery likes company kind of way, I can assure people that the same kind of rot and deterioration has been afflicting the Federal bureaucracy since at least the early 1990s. Canada once had a civil service it could be proud of, efficient, honest, politically neutral and appropriately skilled and professional. What have we seen lately? Everything from the runaway Sponsorship Scandal, which must have involved hundreds of public servants as well as some political players, and the firing of three dedicated Health Canada scientists whose only offence was doing their duty to their nation and the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Is the new Harper administration determined to clear things up? Possibly, but the initial signs are not very positive. There has been no reversal of the firings at Health, and none of the too-political DM or ADM types were released, including a notorious official who started the financial runaway at the gun registry, who one would have thought would be very high up on the Tory target list. Instead, ... the game goes on.

The media in this country aren't willing to stop portraying civil servants, or teachers, as tax fed fat cats long enough to get voters motivated about public service quality issues. That's why the politicians get away with further weakening these organizations rather than restoring them to health and efficiency.

Good question, "Just Wondering".

Another key question is this: Just how much has the Ministry spent on IT in five years, driven by the Walls vision of massive downsizing enabled by electronic service delivery (which the premier himself endorsed), and what have they got to show for it?

(...and here's the Premier trying and failing to deny the July 2001 meeting between Walls & his staff and to explain away the disposal of one of the first MCFD ADMs who tried to stand in Walls' way http://qp.gov.bc.ca/hansard/37th5th/h40519p.htm)

Dawn, would you please report the Hansard URL?

Thanks very much in advance.

ooops, I meant to ask if you would please rePOST the URL - it takes me to an error message.

Here's another link: http://www.legis.gov.bc.ca/hansard/37th5th/h40519p.htm

Or go to the main Hansard and look up WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2004, Afternoon Sitting, Volume 25, Number 17.

(...and the Minutes of that meeting, as mentioned in Hansard, are no longer available online, but I saved a copy.)

Jeremy B did not initiate his departure and the reason Stan Hagen didn't know until last friday is because that decision did come from the Premier's office. Jeremy was not given a reason for why his services are no longer required but many of us suspect it is the Sherry Charlie case....historically deputy director's and ADM's and director's are terminated when a case goes "bad" in the media, and then they become the fall guy for it. It's too bad that we aren't allowed to talk publicly about our employer and what we know........

Jeremy did not initiate or negotiate his move to UVic, nor did Stan Hagen know about it because the decision was directly from the Premier's office. Historically in our ministry Director's and Deputies are often let go when a case that's gone wrong hits the media, they use them as the fall guy.....too bad the public services employee conduct prevents us from speaking publicly......

Thank you Dawn.

MDFD - can you not speak here? We're listening.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.