$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.

 

Just Posted

The 38th annual New Year Classic saw 172 players in 226 matches

New lights in Oak Bay tennis bubble illuminate local talent

Passengers bound for Victoria say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

Third Victoria person pricked by needle in past week

Police say this one appears to have been deliberately placed

Saanich’s Cadboro Bay neighbourhood gets ready for its close up

Revisions to local area plan are set to decide future of popular beachfront neighbourhood

Police in brief: Teens nabbed for pot smoking near Oak Bay cop shop

Yacht club thefts, fireworks found and wakeful arrest in Oak Bay this week

Spike in graffiti for Oak Bay

“Someone knows who this is and I encourage them to call us or Crime Stoppers”

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

Cougars clipped by Bucs, remain tied for first in South

Victoria junior B puck squad neck and neck with Saanich

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

Victoria hits the road after weekend wins over Kamloops

Western Hockey League club in Portland on Wednesday night

UPDATED: ‘Young, innocent’ teen hit during Vancouver shootout dies

15-year-old Coquitlam boy was in a car driving by the scene

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Video: B.C. documentary features Okanagan ice climbing

First documentary for Penticton filmmaker captures elusive Okanagan ice climbing

David Emerson quits lumber talks as legal action begins

Former federal minister served as B.C. softwood trade point man

Most Read