Paige’s story a tragic failure to intervene - B.C.’s child protection system is stretched to breaking point

“When it comes to social work, protection of the child’s best interest should trump everything else. Paige’s story is a tragedy.” —Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President

Vancouver (21 May 2015) — The latest report by the B.C. Representative for Children and Youth is a tragic story full of missed opportunities for intervention. It is clear that the B.C. child protection system faces severe systemic challenges that remain unaddressed, especially for Aboriginal children and youth, the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) said.

The report, Paige's Story: Abuse, Indifference and a Young Life Discarded, "documents the downward spiral of a child who had great potential but never received the protection, nurturing and care she needed and deserved. Professional indifference to her life circumstances continually left her —and at times even actively placed her — in harm’s way."

Report reveals a broken system of child protection

“When it comes to social work, protection of the child’s best interest should trump everything else. Paige’s story is a tragedy,” said BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. "Failures to intervene cannot be divorced from the broader context of an over-burdened, under-resourced provincial child protection system,” said Smith.

“This report paints a distressing picture of a broken system that is unable to see the big picture, and failed to intervene forcefully to protect Paige. We do not accept failures to report harm or abuse. The entire provincial child protection system failed, including the Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD), community-based outreach workers, those in healthcare, the police and educators,” said Doug Kinna, BCGEU Vice-President, representing social workers in the Ministry of Children and Family Development. 

British Columbia is failing to prioritize responsive, culturally appropriate and properly funded child welfare services, especially for Aboriginal children, youth and their families.

BCGEU Choose Children campaign echoes the reports' findings and provides recommendations for solutions

The BCGEU Choose Children campaign was launched to highlight the clear problem areas faced by child protection services, including inadequate resources, overwhelming caseloads for workers, severe problems with staff recruitment and training, and lack of oversight of cases and of coordination with other agencies. These issues are echoed in the B.C. Representative for Children and Youth's report.

B.C.’s child protection system requires a major investment in resources, staffing, and training, the Choose Children report concludes.

He continued, “Through our Choose Children campaign, we have spoken with hundreds of MCFD members who have told us about their feelings of frustration and despair around the systemic challenges faced by the entire child protection system,” said Kinna.

“The political leadership of our province must take responsibility for properly prioritizing and resourcing the child welfare system to avoid any further tragedies.”

The BCGEU Choose Children campaign and report were launched on November 6, 2014, drawing attention to the crisis in B.C.’s child protection system.

Following a recommendation issued by the Representative in her February 2014 Lost in the Shadows report, BCGEU/NUPGE and MCFD also established a joint working group focused on staffing and workload challenges in the Ministry.


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

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