An executive decision

Earlier, we reported rumours there would be major executive-level changes at children and family development today. And a letter from Lesley du Toit, which was just distributed to ministry staff, confirms that watercooler gossip. A cursory reading seems to indicate the most significant development is the departure of strategic planning and business intelligence division assistant deputy minister Kim Henderson, who is moving into the West Annex. But, perhaps more importantly, the letter also provides some indication of the direction Ms. du Toit wants to take the ministry. The following is a complete copy of that document.

Thursday, 11th May 2006

Dear Colleagues

I would like to take this opportunity to say hullo to all the staff of MCFD and thank each of you for your patience and assistance as I continue to transition to both the Ministry and BC. I have enjoyed the opportunity to meet a number of you so far and appreciate the warm reception I have received. I look forward to meeting all of you as I travel around the province.

Thank you for the work you do each day to strengthen and support the vulnerable children, youth and families of BC. I believe that every person in this ministry matters and each piece of work you do contributes to the whole.

As you will be aware by now, I have been appointed to facilitate and accelerate the transformation of the system for children, youth and families in BC with which this ministry began some years back. The need for change has also been highlighted by the various reviews over the past months.

Both the Minister and Premier are supportive of this transformation and we are therefore immediately embarking on a comprehensive 4-5 year process which will be based on a collective vision, principles and framework. We will build on the strengths and effective initiatives which exist in each region so that we ensure that work done over these past years, and good practice which continues today, is recognized and supported. I want to make the process as inclusive as possible, ensuring that we take up this challenge as a team, in partnership with aboriginal colleagues and leaders, other ministries, colleagues in this sector, and all those service providers with whom we work. We will take a deeply respectful, child-centred approach in all our deliberations and transformation initiatives, which therefore also means that children, youth, families and communities will have a say in how we move forward towards our vision.

A critical piece of our transformation will be focused on services to aboriginal children, youth, families and communities, ensuring that aboriginal people in agencies, transition teams, and communities take the lead on designing and delivering these services. Working within the New Relationship, our partnerships will be grounded in respect, and be true and equal. We will be embarking on a journey to learn with and from aboriginal people about what works for their children and their communities.

I am beginning the process of transformation by establishing an executive team who will be supporting and driving transformation with me over the next 4 years.

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Mark Sieben, Doug Hayman, Deb Foxcroft, and Sarf Ahmed as Assistant Deputy Ministers. Doug is presently a regional executive director in MCFD with many years of direct practice and leadership experience and we welcome his willingness to join the team. Deb, once the Director of the first delegated Agency, is presently the Chair of the Aboriginal Chairs Caucus and the Chair for VIAT. She is a well known and respected leader in the aboriginal community and brings years of experience in our sector on many different levels. As with Doug, we are honoured to have her join our team at headquarters.

Mark will continue to act as Provincial Director for Child Protection while we thoughtfully attend to filling this post over the next few months. We will also give thought to the possibility of a Director for Aboriginal Child protection.

I appreciate that Alan Markwart is willing to continue on the Executive in his present ADM position and that Sarf is prepared to be the Assistant Deputy Minister Corporate Service and the Executive Financial Officer.

Mark, Doug and Deb will begin their ADM work once they have had the opportunity to transition out of their present responsibilities. Their specific roles will be finalised in the coming weeks.

Kim Henderson, who has served MCFD well, has elected to take up a new position as the Assistant Deputy Minister, Corporate Initiatives in the Premier's office. This new assignment is a great opportunity for Kim, which will enable her to extend her skill and knowledge beyond this ministry. We deeply appreciate her contribution during her stay in MCFD and wish her well as she takes on new challenges. Kim will stay for a few weeks to assist us in re-allocating her tasks.

Arn van Iersel and Beth James will also continue in their current roles.

As from now, the Executive team of MCFD includes each of the Regional Executive Directors.

On behalf of the ministry I would like to say thank you to Arn, Beth, the Regional Executive Directors and the existing Executive for their leadership and extremely hard work.

As they leave the Executive team, I would like to extend MCFD's appreciation to Robin Symes and Lenora Angel for the significant contribution they have made at this leadership level.

The immediate next steps for the ministry will include:

Planning our vision and principles for change together, and
Restructuring headquarters to be an integrated holistic organization which can best make it possible for regions to be effective and feel supported

We will have a number of workshops and communications with everyone in the next month as we map out what it is we will do together. I know that change is something you have lived with for many years and realize that yet more change may be somewhat difficult to face. While challenging, my hope is that this transformation work will also be rewarding and will allow us to become stronger and more effective as we serve the children, families and communities of BC.

Kind regards

Lesley du Toit
Deputy Minister


Alison McPhail had the chance to clean house. Now, an outsider, with no experience in BC or Canada for that matter, who led a small child welfare agency in Africa with the highest child death rate in the world is no in charge of BC MCFD. Clean house, new adm's, new ED's, and attract the best and the brightest, that's the advice, now, can she do it?

Just remember, "transformation" means nothing more than to tear it all apart, "devolve" the child welfare system piece by piece and then return to South Africa with a nice, fat retirement bonus. She won't have to live with the consequences of what she'll have helped do to this province.

Lesley Du Toit may be from South Africa, but she has had her fingers in different pies here in BC since 2001. She has also been a consultant to the Premier's office for a lot longer than people realize. Some FOI requests could likely uncover some of that info. But then, I guess the Minister & the Premier themselves "approve" of her plans to accelerate "transformation." Because their opinion matters? Give me a break. Hughes said it much nicer, but Campbell has blood on his hands and has never even remotely accepted responsibility & accountability for what's happened as a direct result of his leadership. And he & his lackeys march onwards creating yet more chaos through their hidden agendas.

One of Hughes' biggest criticisms was the 'churn' at the top of MCFD - so what does LdT do first?

"...the appointment of Mark Sieben, Doug Hayman, Deb Foxcroft, and Sarf Ahmed as Assistant Deputy Ministers."
That would be more churn at the top.

I'd suggest Ms du Toit needs to re-read the Hughes report. Since he made it very clear that attempting to undertake too much change, too rapidly, was pivotal to MCFD's downfall, how on earth can she therefore suggest that "accelerating" change is the answer?

With that single statement, the new DM confirmed who's still pulling all the strings -- and that we're still relyng on the very same manual that led to disaster.

It is also instructive that there is not a single reference to the other half of the Ministry's mandate--i.e. CLBC and community living -- which although devolved, is still supposed to be part of this Minister's responsibility. Which only illustrates again why Ms du Toit's bosses are in such a rush to proceed with transformation and devolution. According to this latest schedule, by 2010, the rest of MCFD will also be someone else's problem and everyone can go sip champagne and watch the downhill skiing races without having to worry about bad press over the plight of vulnerable children youth and adults.

Dawn Steele makes a very good point but the rest of you should take a deep breath and give this new team a chance.

Ms du Toit hired ADMs and EDs to fit jobs that do not exist as of yet. Way to go! In the 'transformation' business, jobs jive with the people and not the other way around. I guess this how they do it in LALA land. Ironically, Ms du Toit has been having the pleasure to be assisted on the reorg from Beth James, ADM, who is also new to the Ministry of Children and Family. God help our kids! We on to a rough ride.

Renewal wrote that du Toit "led a small child welfare agency in Africa with the highest child death rate in the world"

What is your evidence Renewal?

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.