$66 million spent to ‘talk’ about aboriginal kids

Minister admits government 'strayed from its mandate' to provide direct services to children in need of protection

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

VICTORIA – The B.C. government has spent 10 years and $66 million on meetings and consultants to discuss aboriginal “governance” of children in protective care, while actual services such as domestic violence safe houses remain inadequate to meet the need.

That conclusion emerges from a new report from B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who calls it a “confused, unstable and bizarre area of public policy” where millions continue to be spent without accountability.

“For example,” Turpel-Lafond wrote, “nearly $35 million was spent discussing regional aboriginal authorities, including large expenditures on paying people to meet, hiring consultants to facilitate those meetings, and producing materials of questionable practical value following such meetings that almost never addressed the actual difficulties children and youth were experiencing in their lives – issues such as parental addiction, domestic violence, poverty, neglect and the need for mental health services or special needs support.”

Stephanie Cadieux, B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development, said Wednesday she accepts the findings of the report, and agrees that the ministry “strayed from its mandate to provide direct services.”

A new deputy minister appointed two years ago has worked to redirect ministry spending to services for those in need, Cadieux said. She acknowledged that another $8 million is being spent this fiscal year on impractical “nation to nation” talks before consulting contracts expire.

NDP children and families critic Carole James said she supports the concept of delegating child welfare to aboriginal communities where it’s practical to do so. But she said it’s “appalling” that millions are spent on high-level meetings while there is an eight-month waiting list for youth mental health services.

The B.C. Liberal government has a track record of this, going back to former premier Gordon Campbell, who recruited a South African expert as deputy minister to impose a new aboriginal child care system, she said.

“They put out a big idea or a slogan, say they’re going to move it, and then have no plan to implement it properly, with resources, with clear outcomes,” James said. “The tragedy with this one is it’s aboriginal children who are suffering.”

Cadieux said it isn’t fair to conclude all the money was wasted. The ministry has better relationships with aboriginal communities, and still provides direct services across the province, she said.

 

Just Posted

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Birtch Parlee is one of approximately 132,000 transgender people living across the nation, according to Statistics Canada. Photo submitted
Transgender in a small town – Princeton B.C.

“I buried it. I pushed it down. I lived a lie.”

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Dan Albas
COLUMN: Reopening the international border

Governments in Canada and the United States are working towards reopening plans for the border

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Smoke has been showing since earlier in the day

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

A boat sharing service is extending to Summerland. The company, Penticton Boat Club and Rentals, is also taking over the boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort. (Photo by Chris Stenberg)
Boat sharing service extended from Penticton to Summerland

Company will also operate boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Most Read