Today, the ministry of children and family development's top bureaucrat Lesley du Toit appeared before the legislature's select standing committee on children and youth. That appearance did little to further our understanding of practice change - her plan to massively overhaul the way children in British Columbia are protected. But that doesn't mean no news came out of that three hour meeting. During the proceedings, Ms. du Toit:
* said the "to-ing and fro-ing on many of the issues that get raised is not always but for the most part a distraction from the focus that we're meant to have on children." Ms. du Toit didn't say what those issues were. But we assume she's referring to her relationship with children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond;
* said she hoped her ministry would never be in a situation "where we simply blindly follow some direction that is given to us, from whomever it might be, without thoughtfully considering the impact on children and families, and how that might actually improve what we're doing for them." New Democrat legislators Maurine Karagianis and Leonard Krog took this to mean she was referring to direction from Ms. Turpel-Lafond.
* rebuffed a question from New Democrat legislator Mable Elmore about whether she would be willing to "sit down and meet and talk" directly with Ms. Turpel-Lafond. "That's a discussion between the representative and myself," she stated. "I think those are administrative issues, as the Chair raised, that I believe are best dealt with between our two offices."
* said she has "never refused to meet with the representative." But, according to correspondence obtained by Public Eye via a freedom of information request, just three months earlier Ms. du Toit informed Ms. Turpel-Lafond she wouldn't "be providing you with any further briefings on the Practice Change;" and
* confirmed she will be personally involved in teaching ministry employees about practice change. "Yes, I will be doing some of it. I certainly won't be doing all of it," she told the committee, adding she'll be focusing on training social workers how to assess their cases.