Child protection watchdog insists on briefing

The government's independent child protection watchdog is insisting she get "full and proper briefing" on an effort to overhaul the way British Columbia's children are protected after top bureaucrat Lesley du Toit refused to ever give her another. The bureaucrat's boss, Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak said earlier this week Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is getting information about that four-year-old effort - just through other channels. But, according to records obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, that arrangement didn't negate the children and youth representative's need for such a briefing.

In an interview on Monday, Ms. Polak said a deal was struck on November 27 to have the representative's deputy Jeremy Berland and the ministry's chief operating officer Mark Sieben discuss Ms. du Toit's so-called "practice change" initiative on an ongoing basis.

But, according to a July 7 letter sent from the representative to the deputy, Ms. Turpel-Lafond's staff had earlier been told "this is an initiative flowing from your office and that only you are able to provide the information."

So, in light of Ms. du Toit's December 4 refusal to give the representative further personal briefings on practice change, Ms. Turpel-Lafond sent a seven-page letter insisting on one.

Writing on December 16, the representative reminded Minister Polak that the deputy had described those plans as resulting in a "fundamental transformation of practice across all program areas of the Ministry of Children and Family Development."

As such, Ms. Turpel-Lafond said she needed to be able to review them to assure the public the ministry "is on a positive, achievable and steady course for improvement in the delivery of designated services to children and youth."

"While I have legal power to compel this information, I would much prefer that you proceed voluntarily in accordance with the intention of the Legislation and a clear understanding of my role," she stated.

"All I am seeking at this point is a full and proper briefing on Practice Change. Should the Deputy Minister be unwilling to do so, I am asking the Minister to require her to do so."

But that hasn't happened.

Speaking to Public Eye on Wednesday, Minister Polak said she wrote back to the representative asking her to give the meeting between Messers. Berland and Sieben "a chance to work before we went back to what I considered - and she did at the time we discussed it - a rather cumbersome and kind of ad hoc process that we were engaged in prior to that."

And that's where the issue presently sits - just two months away from the fourth anniversary of the Hughes Review, the report that recommended the creation of Ms. Turpel-Lafond's office.

6 Comments

Sounds like the Rep is laying the groundwork for a legal challenge. Good for her. If they continue to stonewall, she needs to be prepared to stand up to them and play hardball

Governance at this Ministry has been appalling, and it will continue to deteriorate as long as there is a sense within the leadership that they can get away with doing anything they please and simply covering it up with PR-speak.

Most sensible people are most likely to agree with Ms. Tupel-Lafond's opinion, I sure as heck do. she got the job becasue the legislature voted her into the position. Ms. Polak should tread carefully on the issues. Back when she was trying to ban books the case ended up in the supreme Court of Canada, where she lost. If this stalemate continues she might well find herself out of a job on the Liberal yes Gordo team

I give Mary Polak four chances out of five she'll make something good happen. I did not say five out of five, but four out of five.

I also find this about as detailed, complicated and interesting as 3-D Chess, but I digress.

The sound of a political career imploding yet again because of Lesley Du Toit. Has any other Deputy Minister in the history of the BC government caused so many politicians to die on their own swords?

I think this makes it abundantly clear that Ministers are simply figureheads and LDT, handpicked by and reporting to the Premier's office, is who the power really rests with, which can be likened to a horror movie.

Du Toit, nor Polak wouldn't know best practices in child welfare if they fell into a pit of them. They are completely and entirely out of their element and the children and families of BC are paying for that.

Since MCFD is keeping the proposed "practice changes" so hush, hush, we can only surmise that they will _not_ be an improvement, nor will they be helpful to the kids of BC. This Ministry, for the last decade, has turned it's back on more and more children in need of basic protection and outright failed in it's most basic legislated mandate - the protection and best interests of children under the CFCSA.
We already know that they are readying changes to Child In Home of Relative, I suspect they will be expanding that as a way of keeping even more kids out of care. Gotta get the numbers down somehow, right Mary, Mark & Lesley?

This story below just says it all. At one of the worst economic times in decades, MCFD is cutting $10 MILLION in funding to community social services. These services are crucial, proactive and support children and families from sliding the slippery slope into absolute crisis. With this kind of "leadership" who needs enemies.

Province to cut $10 million from community services for children, families

http://www.vancouversun.com/Province+million+from+community+services+children+families/2552733/story.html

http://bcliberalssuck.blogspot.com/

The issue is with the MCFD Deputy Minister who is a public no show. She is a control person but the public has no idea who she is. Accountability is not only the job of the Minister but also her Deputy. Explain yourself to the public Ms.du Toit.

As to where Mary Polak stands on child poverty... suffer thru the 25-second pump-up and watch this.

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