Warning signs

Last month, Mary Polak said she was "perplexed" about an accusation that her ministry has stopped responding to recommendations made by the government's independent child protection watchdog. But, according to records exclusively obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, the watchdog privately raised that issue with the children and family development minister's top bureaucrat two months before going public with it.

In a letter sent to the bureaucrat on November 26, 2009, children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond wrote, "I have yet to receive a formal ministry response and summary of actions regarding the recommendations in RCY reports since 2007."

The representative then advised Minister Polak's deputy she would be publicly reporting on that issue when she next met with MLAs belonging to the legislature's select standing committee on children and youth.

Nine days later, the deputy - Lesley du Toit - sent this response: "I am pleased to know that you will be reporting to the Standing Committee. This is indeed the group to whom you are meant to report and I am uncertain as to why you would need to notify me of your intent."

So why was Minister Polak "perplexed" when the representative did just that on January 27, 2010?

Speaking with Public Eye, the minister said she knew about Mses. du Toit and Turpel-Lafond's letters.

But, after having a breakfast meeting with the representative on November 23, 2009, Minister Polak said she came away with the impression Ms. Turpel-Lafond "felt things had significantly improved in terms of sharing information since I had become minister."

"She left me no reason to believe that that reporting of hers (to the committee) would be as negative or that she would be saying what she did. She left me no reason to be believe that," added Minister Polak.

As for whether her ministry hasn't been responding to recommendations in the representative's reports, Minister Polak said she would need to look into the issue.

Although she added there "tends to be a splitting of hairs over what is a formal report or response and what isn't. And, secondly, there are times when - quite frankly - (Ms. Turpel-Lafond's) been wrong."

A government spokesperson later emailed Public Eye to say the ministry has formally responded to all but three of the representative's reports.

And, according to Minister Polak, the ministry will be responding to two of those reports now that Ms. Turpel-Lafond has presented them to the standing committee.

Ms. Turpel-Lafond's office declined to directly respond to the government's version of events.

But, in a prepared statement, the representative said, "People told me this job wouldn't be easy, but bringing public accountability and improved performance to the ministry is the purpose of my office."

"If I take 'no' for an answer, how will that help British Columbians understand if the system is working right for kids?"

The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned correspondence between Mses. du Toit and Turpel-Lafond, which also includes the deputy's refusal to give the representative any further personal briefings about a poorly understood effort to massively overhaul the way British Columbia's children are protected. Ms. Turpel-Lafond has challenged that refusal.

Letters concerning practice change and the government's response to the children and youth representative's...

4 Comments

There is nothing there except ivory tower conceptualizing ,beyond which, this deputy appears to be at a loss.

After years of cant and pie in the sky rhetoric, staff were advised this week that training is to be provided them in a risk assessment tool that is one of dozens available and no better or worse or much different from those tools currently in use.

That's it. Four years of transformation all consuming baloney gives birth to a squirt.

Very sad. She should get out more and talk to a few social workers. Spend a week in an understaffed intake office. She then would have a base for real transformation and as well something worth while to tell the Representative.

"She left me no reason to believe that that reporting of hers (to the committee) would be as negative or that she would be saying what she did. She left me no reason to be believe that," added Minister Polak.

This one statement sets out more eloquently than anyone ever could why Mary Polak is unqualified and unable to perform her duties as Minister of the Children & Family Development.

Mary, MCFD is responsible for countless well documented tragedies, innumerable hours of pain, anguish and sorrow for those it has come into contact with (children, parents, foster parents, employees, managers...), those whose lives have been altered forever and those who have not had the safety that they needed. MCFD is routinely failing to meet it's most basic legal mandate - protecting BC's children and acting in the best interests of our children. There is nothing more important than those things and MCFD, under this leadership is unable to meet those obligations.

If you, nor LDT are unaware of the carnage of BC's child welfare system (remember the $10 million in cuts happening under the cover of the Olympics) then you should both resign right now because the Hughes Review was pretty clear what needed to be done. As was Gove's Inquiry, as is the voice of the Representative for Children & Youth of BC and many, many other advocates for our most vulnerable children, youth and families. This government has failed these citizens miserably and it continues to do so because people who are not fit for the job and have no heart for our kids keep re-inventing the wheel and creating smoky illusions to cover the structural adjustment occurring. You are fooling no-one. Time to go before more of our kids are hurt.

http://bcliberalssuck.blogspot.com/

FYI: Mary Polak does not respond well to somebody who says "BC Liberals Suck". Her idea of a good time is terrorizing the hell outta BCNDP who do suck and playing with live guns.

Of course, poor Sean Holman, he knows two things when he blogs the word Polak:

1) Polak haters will descend.
2) Polakites will return fire.

Cheers, happy Olympics and go Polak go!

"As for whether her ministry hasn't been responding to recommendations in the representative's reports, Minister Polak said she would need to look into the issue."

Seriously?!?! WTF? How can she possibly NOT KNOW THIS IS AN ISSUE?!

And then to come back and reply that "the ministry has formally responded to all but three of the representative's reports" I assume that they meant to say items covered in the reports. I'm baffled by this. What did those 'responses' consist of, did they consist of REAL answers or just peeing down the legs of the public and telling us it's honey?

Nevermind. I know the answer.

The responses and statements put out but the government employees of MCF is an insult to every single person in this province.

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