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NDP demands independent inquiry into B.C. children's ministry

07/17/2015 08:21 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
BC NDP critic, Doug Donaldson, says the problems within the Ministry of Children and Family Development won't be solved without an independent review. 

This week, BC Supreme Court Justice Paul Walker, ruled that the Ministry had failed in its job to protect children in care from their sexually abusive father.

Walker said the ministry's lack of action allowed the father to continue abusing his children for years.

Following the judgement's release, Stephanie Cadieux, B.C.'s Minister of Children and Family Development promised a review.

"Given the seriousness of the decision rendered by the judge, we will necessarily undertake a review relating to the nature of the case from a policy and practice perspective, as well as the HR implications.

However what form that review will take requires a plan that should not be rushed, but must not be delayed," Cadieux said.

Too little, too late

Not only is the review three years late, the action plan for it should have already been done, Donaldson says.

"I think that it needs to be an independent review. You can't let the Ministry investigate themselves in this particular situation. The terms should have been in place already," he told Stephen Quinn on CBC's The Early Edition this morning.

He says that this situation was a "direct result of the ministry's actions" and the response has been "wholly inadequate". Donaldson says that kind of accountability should start with the minister. 

"This is not an isolated incident. It's a trend."

Donaldson says the amount of reviews for negligence is escalating and he believes that systems should already be in place to deal with these issues.

"Currently the government says it's reviewing a case where officials ignored a court order for 18 months to reunite a child with its grandmother," he said. "That was a case that came down in 2014 and the minister says its being reviewed," he said.

While the ministry has an issue with lack of funding, Donaldson says the bigger problem is lack of leadership.

"In my view children are our most valuable resource and the priority should be there above all else and the government has decided not to make that a priority," Donaldson said.

Need for progressive, evidence-based solutions

Scott Clark is the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement Society, or ALIVE. 

For years, he has advocated for major changes in the way the province cares for children.  

"This particular case coming on the heels of Paige's report is telling us there's a pattern there," Clark said in an interview with On the Coast.

"We have a ministry that's broken, and we have a minister that's in denial right now." 

But Clark said we don't have to look much further than Vancouver to find a working model of child and family services. 

The Collective Impact Place-Based Strategy takes a progressive and holistic rather than one-size fits approach to care, Clark said.

"It's bringing together a whole bunch of agencies that actually have the compassion and capacity to see and operate in a different way.

"We have hope. We can't change the world, but we can change our neighbourhood and our community and build that model that's working."

To hear the full interview with Scott Clark, listen to the audio labelled: A.L.I.V.E. on Fixing the way the province cares for children.

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