Christensen: "I am confident this ministry is on the right path."

Today, the province's children and youth representative criticized the government for not doing enough to implement the Hughes Review's recommendations. But, in response, Children and Family Development Minister Tom Christensen said the Campbell administration isn't taking an approach "where - to the letter of each recommendation - we must be able to satisfy it completely." Instead, "what we've said is we want to address those recommendations in the context in which they were offered and within our own Strong, Safe and Supported plan which we have offered to the public."

In the representative's second Hughes Review progress report, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond stated "budgeting, planning and implementation" of that plan - which was prepared "without collaboration or input" from her office - hasn't been completed. Nor is it "clear what targets or performance measures will indicate realization of that plan."

For his own part, though, Minister Christensen stated he is "very proud" of the Strong, Safe and Supported, which is "really the result of about two years of work by the ministry in developing how it was we are going to move forward to improve outcomes for children and families across the province."

"I am confident this ministry is on the right path," he continued. "I can tell you that, over the past number of months, as I've been out talking to frontline workers, to families that are served by the ministry, to a number of our stakeholders that are contracted service providers, that they are confident that Strong, Safe and Supported provides a strong road map to the future for this ministry and we are moving down the right path."

As part of that journey, Minister Christen said the ministry will "get to the date" where a Hughes Review recommendation - such as the establishment of the representative's office - will be completed. "But there many others that are actually ongoing process-type recommendations that are going to require continual effort to ensure we continue to improve what we're doing so it impacts children and families in the way we want it."

At least one recommendation, however, won't be followed. "In respect to the process of establishing regional authorities - that is not a road the ministry is moving down at this point," said Minister Christensen. "Mr. Hughes made that recommendation at a time where the ministry had committed to establishing distinct regional authorities. A decision has been made, over the last couple years, that that is not a path we want to do in terms of setting up independent authorities."

Although, "we do continue, certainly, to regionalize decision-making in terms of the ministry's five regions and, with aboriginal peoples, continue to work very closely with them in terms of trying to identify what are the structures that will enable First Nations and other aboriginal people to have very direct input to improving services to First Nations children and families in communities across the province."

And what about Ms. Turpel-Lafond's complaint that her office isn't "consulted regularly when major shifts in policy or changes" are contemplated or conducted? "The representative is an independent officer of the legislature," Minister Christensen responded. "Government is still going to develop policy. Government is still going to set the direction that any ministry of government goes. And certainly we welcome the representative's input and reflection on that."

"But, at the end of the day, government is still going to be making decisions about how it is this ministry should work, how it is other ministries should work, where additional investments should be made, how it is we want to be interacting with First Nations. And I don't think that should surprise anyone. I can't think of another independent officer that is in a position to sort of direct how government should operate."

Although Minister Christensen added the ministry and the representative have "talked about the opportunity to try to work on joint reports. That's going to require considerable collaboration. We're exploring the opportunity to do that. But we haven't come to any agreement as to how you could actually effectively prepare a joint report while still respecting her office's independence. So I think there's still work to do on that."

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"But, at the end of the day, government is still going to be making decisions about how it is this ministry should work, how it is other ministries should work, where additional investments should be made, how it is we want to be interacting with First Nations. And I don't think that should surprise anyone. I can't think of another independent officer that is in a position to sort of direct how government should operate."

And therein lies the problem, it's Gordon Camppbell and his neoConLiberals who have brought the child welfare system to the verge of collapse and created such perilous times for children and families in BC.

As Representative of Children & Youth, didn't she receive an Order-in-Council, appointment by the Legislature and swear an Oath to monitor and have oversight of a government that was publically and tragically failing? To let that government know how bad things are for some? What the outcomes are and make recommendations and suggestions for solutions and improvements?

Christensen: "I am confident this ministry is on the right path."

If, as the Minister of MCFD you are "confident the ministry is is on the right path" then you should resign immediately, in light of everything you know about how bad things really are. Because the only thing anyone else is "confident" is, that this Ministry is going down like a ton of bricks and it's time to put responsibility where it belongs. The agenda to privatize, "devolve" and "transform" the child welfare system was ill-timed, ill-conceived and is a botched nightmare for many children, youth and families in BC who need the safety, protection, care and support of their government.

What the hell are our _elected officals_ going to do to fix it and immediately? No amount of long, ambiguous, boring documents are going to do that. Nor are empty explanations. It's pretty clear the appointed (or is that annointed) ones are incapable of righting this sinking ship. So those who swore an Oath to serving the public good and the people of BC better do something and do it damn quick because our kids and families are running out of time and too many have been hurt already.

If none of these folks, other than the Representative, are willing, or capable of getting down to real business and fixing the child welfare system, then it is time for them to go and let's get someone in who is ready to do what it takes to support BC's kids and families today and in the dark days ahead.

Forgive me if this is disrespectful, Sean. I really did try to read the above but all my brain heard was "Christensen said: Blah, blah, blah, we're the government and we can do whatever we want. So what if we promised to implement the Hughes recommendations and and have no intention of living up to that promise? We're the government and Ms Turpel Lafond is not, so we can do whatever we want! Blah, blah. Did I mention we're the ones in charge and we're entitled to do what we want?"

I too ask to be forgiven if this is disrespectful - of YOU, Sean - but why are we surprised? Campbell takes his marching orders from his clone in Ottawa. He manipulated the public into believing that he is a Liberal. He is not. He and his colleagues are from the Reform/Alliance Party, as is Harper and the policies he implements and his behaviour is typical Reform.

The purpose of this crisis at MCFD is to create chaos in order to rush in a fix it with more chaos so that he can shut it down entirely. Where he is going with all of this is to the private sector. Look at what he's done re seniors!

Why else would he hire a Deputy as inept as Lesley du Toit? He knows exactly what is going on and is quite happy with where it's at.

Let us hope that it's not too late and that we'll see the back of him and of her with the results of the upcoming election.

I am simply appalled at these ongoing stories of what is happening at the Ministry of Children and Family.

These articles are painful to read.

The following two paragraphs I find particularly telling:

“Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond stated "budgeting, planning and implementation" of that plan - which was prepared "without collaboration or input" from her office - hasn't been completed. Nor is it "clear what targets or performance measures will indicate realization of that plan."
For his own part, though, Minister Christensen stated he is "very proud" of the Strong, Safe and Supported, which is "really the result of about two years of work by the ministry in developing how it was we are going to move forward”

The MINISTER is “very proud” of a ‘plan’ (and I use the term loosely) is proud of a plan that contains no clear targets and no clear performance measures.

Not only that!!! They Ministry has spent TWO YEARS preparing it!!!

What the F is going on over there? I’m so angry I could scream.

It’s even worse because I know, I KNOW for working in government that this is merely typical of most if not all Ministries – lots of planning and stalling but NEVER EVER do they provide credible performance measures or metrics. This government will do anything and say anything to avoid accountability.

Shame on us for tolerating this nonsense.

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