$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

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.

 

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

Just Posted

Body of 21-year-old man found in Okanagan Lake

BC Coroners Service is investigting the circumstances of the man’s death

COLUMN: Ryga Arts Festival and the library present Extended Play

It’s not going to be the same as a live performance, but viewing from home can be magical

Wildfire burns near Okanagan Connector

All lanes are now open on Highway 97C

Morning Start: Tomato juice won’t fix getting skunked

Your morning start for Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020

VIDEO: Vegan, gluten-free bakery moves into new space after COVID-19 closure

Jaide and Joel’s Bakery, now True North Bakehouse, is starting fresh

VIDEO: Vegan, gluten-free bakery moves into new space after COVID-19 closure

Jaide and Joel’s Bakery, now True North Bakehouse, is starting fresh

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Kelowna RCMP discover more imitation firearms used in crimes

RCMP say the fake guns can be hard to distinguish from the real ones

Dyer: Replacing dam and solar power

Research indicates Canada could replace 100% of power from dams with solar, using only 13% of the land

Airborne hot dog strikes Greater Victoria pedestrian

Police called to 4200-block of Quadra Street for hot dog incident

Kootnekoff: CEWS expanded and extended

Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, her diverse legal career spans over 20 years

B.C. scientist, 63, protests in trees set to be removed for Trans Mountain pipeline

Tim Takaro is reaching new heights as he tries to stall the pipeline expansion project in New Westminster

Summerland Health Care Auxiliary provides bursaries to high school grads

Thrift shop has operated in Summerland for 61 years

Police investigate North Okanagan truck fire

‘At this time, investigators are treating the fire as suspicious,’ says Cpl. Tania Finn

Most Read