"Um, no." That's what Mary Polak said last week when asked if the ministry of children and family development has stopped directly responding to the recommendations in the children and youth representative's reports. Indeed, the minister told reporters she could provide "the amount of information requests (from the children and youth representatives) we've responded to in the last year, I can provide you with the amount of meetings we've had in the last number of months since I've been minister." This, when asked whether the ministry was "engaged" with Ms. Turpel-Lafond. But here's the thing...
...the information that was given to reporters following that scrum shows meetings between the Ms. Polak and the representative. And officials from the ministry and the representative's office discussed the recommendations made in Kids, Care and Crime: Youth Justice Experiences and Outcomes following its public release. However, that doesn't seem to address the representative's statement the ministry will now only respond to her recommendations through a committee of MLAs responsible for children and youth issues. But you can see for yourself. The following is a complete copy of that information.
The Ministry is fully committed to responding to the RCY's requests to updates on reports; for example, Hughes in 2009 and Northern Report in 2009.
As an example of responding to Rep's requests, an Oct. 2009 letter to the Minister clearly acknowledges the efforts ministry staff have made in implementing her recommendations in the Youth Justice System Report. She also acknowledged that MCFD provided her with an update in the fall of 2008 to the Northern Report.
The Minister and the Representative meet on an ongoing basis. For instance:
1. June 23, 2009 (Introduction and set out expectations)
2. July 27, 2009 (Housing, Help, and Hope Briefing)
3. July 28, 2009 (phone call re Housing, Help, and Hope Report)
4. Sept. 21, 2009 (Christian Lee Report Briefing)
5. Oct. 6, 2009 (Meeting with Premier and RCY re child poverty)
6. Nov. 23, 2009 (breakfast to touch base)
7. Nov. 30, 2009 (phone call to touch base)
8. Dec. 7, 2009 (phone call to touch base)
9. Dec 15, 2009 (briefing on complaints resolution report)
Kids, Care and Crime:
After the public release of the report in the spring of 2009, senior MCFD staff and Rep staff met to discuss her recommendations. MCFD also has been in discussion with partner ministries like A/G, Ministry of Education and PSSG, to discuss the recommendations and has kept the representative's office informed and aware.
The rep mentioned the Northern Report today - the latest meeting with her office was on Jan. 18, 2010 and our involvement began in the spring of 2008 on this report. On four separate occasions, MCFD has reported out on the Northern Report - three times to the Rep and once to the Select Standing Cmt in 2009. For instance, in a Nov. 2008, a letter to the Rep outlined updates on her recommendations.
Since 2008, MCFD has provided substantial updates to the Rep for her progress reports on the Hughes recommendations. For the Reps' third progress report, MCFD staff dedicated over 1,000 hours to gather and provide extensive documentation and to meet with RCY staff on several occasions.
* MCFD has always sought to respond to requests for information by the Representative and other public bodies in as complete and timely a way as possible.
* To that end, in June of 2008 the ministry established an interface unit to facilitate information requests - and to date the unit has processed more than 560 requests - more than 90 per cent of those from the Office of the Representative.
* As an example of the extensive work being done by the ministry, a request for all information pertaining to Aboriginal services resulted in 46 boxes of information provided to the Office of the Representative.
* Many of the requests are complex, time consuming and involve information relating to policy, programs, budgets, human resources, training, case files, and briefings - and doesn't include advocacy requests directly from regional offices or local offices.
* The ministry has also attempted to anticipate what information would be available through FOI and provided that information without necessitating a Freedom of Information request.