Social workers and social service agencies have come out against provincial government legislation that will ensure children and youth representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's information rights don't give her unrestricted access cabinet documents. In separate emails to the media, the Federation of Community Social Services of BC and the BC Association of Social Workers condemned the Campbell administration's proposed amendments to the Representative for Children and Youth Act. "Whose interests are being served by cutting the Representative off at the knees in fulfilling the mandate of her office - assessing and reporting on how MCFD and other Ministries are fulfilling their legislated mandates toward the children and youth of BC?," the social workers stated in a news release. "It's time for the leadership of MCFD to be reminded that their first and most important commitment is to serving the interests and needs of BC's children and youth in the most accountable, transparent and ethical way." The following is a complete copy of those emails.
From: Tracey Young
Organization: Catalyst Enterprises BC
Date: Sun, 2 May 2010 11:32:22 -0700
Subject: What is MCFD Trying to Hide - BCASW media release
BC Association of Social Workers
For Immediate Release
May 1, 2010
WHAT IS MCFD TRYING TO HIDE?
"The BC Liberals have worked over the past eight years to make government more open and accountable, and take decisive action towards real democratic reform." - BC Liberals
Through the introduction of Bill 24-2006 the BC government has introduced amendments to the Representative for Children and Youth Act that will restrict the Representative in accessing cabinet documents which are necessary to monitor and assess how the BC government is meeting its mandate toward the children and youth of BC.
The fact that these legislative changes are retroactive to the creation of the Representative's office, and were hidden within the bill which contained 200 amendments to miscellaneous laws, speaks to the profound lack of transparency, openness and accountability with which the BC government is operating. The introduction of these amendments can only be seen as attempts to undermine and diminish the legislative authority and power of the Representative in holding the BC government accountable for its action and inaction that contribute to the continuing and rapid deterioration of the child welfare and social service systems of care in BC.
There is enough evidence to demonstrate that MCFD is often failing to meet even its most basic legislative mandate - to protect children and youth. The attrition of frontline social workers continues unabated. The government has failed to act on previous recommendations of the Representative.
How are the interests of children, youth and families being served by creating a veil of secrecy around accessing information about how the leadership of MCFD is operating and what changes they are planning?
Whose interests are being served by cutting the Representative off at the knees in fulfilling the mandate of her office - assessing and reporting on how MCFD and other Ministries are fulfilling their legislated mandates toward the children and youth of BC?
It's time for the leadership of MCFD to be reminded that their first and most important commitment is to serving the interests and needs of BC's children and youth in the most accountable, transparent and ethical way. There is still time for the BC government to meet its own goal of building the best system of support in Canada for children with special needs and those who are at risk. BC's children and youth deserve the absolute best that we have to offer.
From: Donna Francis
Sent: May-03-10 11:48 AM
To: 'Doug Hayman'
Subject: Media Alert - Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond - Representative for Children
The Federation of Community Social Services of BC strongly supports the work and mandate of the Representative for Children, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond and is concerned about the government's desire to change her access to information.
Federation President, Nanette Taylor, will be available for comment on this issue.