Limited funding leaves children vulnerable

Starved ministry funding limits proper care for vulnerable children.

Can you fancy working for a boss who refuses to meet with you even once in twelve months?

How would you seek direction or iron out problems on the job? How would you suggest improvements to further the company’s bottom line? Would it not be in management’s interest to hear you out on a regular basis?

Apparently not if your boss is a minister in the B.C. Liberal government.

For nine years and eleven months Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has laboured away in Victoria as the advocate for children and youth in government care. Yet despite prior commitments, in the past year, her boss Minister for Children and Family Development Stephanie Cadieux has failed to meet with her even once.

Talk of uppity!

As reported by Vaughn Palmer in The Vancouver Sun’s October 25 edition, “Turpel-Lafond herself underscored the breach in a final report that circulated online as the watchdog did her farewell turn before the committee.

“Government must be accountable for its actions on this file and show an urgent interest in improving the services it offers to children, youth and their families,” she stated.

“Despite a mandate to meet with the representative a minimum (a minimum!) of four times per year, the minister has refused to meet with me at all during the past 12 months. This government must work on its ability to own up to its shortcomings and to address them. B.C.’s children deserve that much.”

A major achievement for Turpel-Lafond was persuading 16 B.C. colleges and universities to waive tuition for youth transitioning out of foster care at age 19. BCIT, for example covers the cost of tuition, student fees, medical and dental, and lab and material costs for five students in a trades program.

She has been instrumental in raising the completion rate of students from 20 per cent to 40 per cent in the past seven years. I count that as a remarkable improvement in the lifetime outlook of young people who have spent their formative years in care.

From the date of her appointment, I’ve taken a special interest in Turpel-Lafond’s work for two reasons. First, she was born into the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Niagara Falls, Ontario, and grew up in an alcoholic family as dysfunctional as many of the youth for whom she advocates. It gives her a unique understanding of their problems. She was a provincial judge in Saskatchewan and a legislative advocate for children’s rights before the B.C. government appointed her in 2006 as the first Representative for Children and Youth, an independent position reporting to the Legislative Assembly.

Secondly, my daughter’s life work is counselling and supporting these same children and their families; young people with physical or mental disabilities; their families who struggle to care for them; teachers at their wits’ end coping with these students’ emotional outbursts. Daily my daughter struggles to compensate for the same ministry shortcomings Turpel-Lafond has pointed out to Cadieux – a marked shortage of youth workers, inadequate funding to hire counselling services, and little if any support for foster children who “age out” at age 19 and suddenly are expected to live as adults on their own.

Turpel-Lafond’s final month will be spent catching up on vacation time. The committee Cadieux appointed last spring to name her successor has yet to do so.

Starved ministry funding limits proper care for vulnerable children. Social workers, counsellors and many other specialized personnel stand ready to help youth in need. The minister’s behaviour suggests she has no urgent interest in improving services for these children.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School in Hazelton is being shut down for a week by the Gitanmaax Band Council following a confirmation of a COVID-19 exposure there on Feb. 26. (Black Press Media File Photo)
COVID-19 exposure notice shuts down Hazelton school

Closure to last for one week and school is to be sanitized

MacCarthy GM staff and customers raised $700 for Pink Shirt Day. (Submitted Photo/Mudit Mehta)
Terrace dealership raises hundreds of dollars for Pink Shirt Day

MacCarthy GM staff and customers raised $700 for anti-bullying initiatives

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read