The BCGEU is supporting the investigation by the Representative for Children and Youth into the tragic situation in Chilliwack involving a 15-year-old girl with Down Syndrome found alone with her dead mother.
VANCOUVER, BC (18 Nov. 2010)- "BCGEU members, who include front-line social workers, are deeply distressed and upset about this terrible tragedy and, like the public, want answers from both inside and outside government," said Darryl Walker, BCGEU president.
"Clearly, this incident is calling out for a full, impartial and prompt review. We welcome and support representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's investigation, and echo her demand for a full explanation from the Ministry of Children and Family Development about its failure to immediately notify her office at the time of the incident."
The independent office of the Representative for Children and Youth was established by the legislature in 2006, in response to a recommendation by the Hughes child welfare inquiry. The representative was tasked to investigate all events where a child or youth who has been receiving services from the ministry dies or suffers a critical injury, particularly where abuse or neglect are factors.
"The failure of the ministry to immediately notify the representative is inexcusable and a gross breach of the statutory requirement to automatically report all incidents to her," Walker said.
Doug Kinna, chair of the BCGEU Social, Information and Health component, said the recent Chilliwack incident and the government's failure to follow the mandated reporting steps raise very serious questions about a child welfare system that apparently is not fixed and may not be working in the best interests of children.
Kinna said the ministry should engage in meaningful consultation with front-line workers to address systemic problems in the system. He pointed to the new Child and Family Support, Assessment, Planning and Practice (CAPP) being piloted in five locations as an opportunity to have input from the workers involved.
"CAPP represents a radical shift in child protection in our province that has some of our members concerned," Kinna said. "The ministry needs to do a thorough assessment that includes listening to the workers involved in the pilots before forging ahead with a new model of service delivery."
The ministry has agreed to a request by the BCGEU for a briefing from the deputy minister on CAPP. The date of that briefing is still to be determined.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE