On Wednesday, Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak accused the BC Association of Social Workers of being "uninformed and inaccurate." This, in response to a social workers' news release criticizing the government for introducing legislation that will ensure the children and youth representative doesn't have an unrestricted right to cabinet documents. But association member Tracey Young couldn't find any evidence in Ms. Polak's letter supporting that accusation. In an email sent on her own behalf to the minister, Ms. Young also expressed hope the representative's recent legal effort to force the release of those documents, would lead to a "greater understanding of the challenges that are impacting the disclosure of information from the BC government regarding child welfare and other related matters." The following is a complete copy of that email.
May 6, 2010
Minister Mary Polak
PO BOX 9057 STN PROV GOVT
VICTORIA BC V8W 9E2
Dear Minister Polak,
Thank you so much for your letter dated May 4, 2010. I'm delighted that the social justice and human rights issues that are being brought forward to the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) are being heard and considered and that we can have this dialogue. Admittedly, I am unclear as to what exactly was "uninformed and inaccurate" in the BCASW media release dated May 1, 2010, WHAT IS MCFD TRYING TO HIDE? No evidence was presented with which to dispute the facts contained in the release. Please see the attached references for further clarification of the facts that were originally presented.
On May 4th 2010 the Representative for Children and Youth filed a British Columbia Supreme Court legal action against the BC government, MCFD included. With this action, we have a greater understanding of the challenges that are impacting the disclosure of information from the BC government regarding child welfare and other related matters.
As these matters are now before the B.C. Supreme Court, it would not be prudent to comment any further on the specific matters related to disclosure of government information and documents until this is resolved through the courts. However, I want to ensure that the most salient points are not lost. The public interest is served by openness, transparency and accountability. These are hallmarks of good governance and strong, ethical leadership in a civil and democratic society.
As a Social Work professional, speaking only for myself, I believe that in a civil society it is government's role to create sound and ethical public policy, based on evidence-based and trusted best practices and research. Government must adequately fund social infrastructure and systems of care that provide children, youth and families the resources, tools and necessities they require to have safe and healthy lives. Too many of our children are being left behind. This is our failure and our loss. I believe in making sure every child and youth in BC has the opportunity to meet their highest potential, to be included and valued in our society and that we all have something positive to contribute if given the chance.
It has always been my sincerest hope, while I was serving the public as a child protection social worker and now, that the BC government will share those same values and take strategic action to bring this vision into reality by adequately investing in and strengthening the existing child welfare system and social safety net for our most vulnerable citizens. It is never too late to improve upon BC's systems of care and to promote the resilience and capacity of our children youth and families.
Thank you for your work and commitment to upholding the best interests and human rights of BC's children, youth and families. I hope you have had the opportunity to get out and meet some of the individuals who receive crucial services and supports. I also hope you've been able to meet some of the committed, hardworking and dedicated social work and community social service professionals who are working to improve the lives of children, youth and families every day around B.C. I look forward to continuing to dialogue with your government in the future.
Tracey Young, MSW, RSW
Cc: BC Association of Social Workers (BCASW)
Sent via e-mail.