Recently, I blogged about the Santa's naughty list of B.C. Liberals, which was well received by Santa and the public alike. Indeed, it has been said you can tell a lot about a government by the way they treat societies most vulnerable, especially children.
Sadly, our government has failed our province's at-risk children on many occasions and that's why when our good friend RossK emailed with a story that came his way from a very solid source, I knew the Grinch must be lurking around the halls of government ministries somewhere:
He blogged about the children under the care of B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFC):
Specifically, those kids in the province's care who don't even have foster homes yet. Imagine being one of those kids at this time of the year.
Once you've imagined all those kids (and there are a lot of them), wouldn't you want to do a little something for them if you were a front-line MCFD worker right about now?
Like, say, buy them a small present for Christmas — even if it was nothing more than a Taylor Swift album?
And, as you might expect, buying such small gifts (total cost under $50) has been a longstanding practice at the MCFD. Until, we have been told, this year."
Gasp, say it isn't so! The Grinch making an appearance in the Ministry of Children and Families? Well, the government categorically denied the allegations on Twitter:
Aha! Well that would be reassuring — if it wasn't for the existence of an email that was left via the contact page on my website shortly after posting a link to RossK's blog.
I have removed the name of the sender of the email — a ministry employee — but the recipient's name was removed prior to my receipt of this email, to protect the identity of those involved.
"From: XXXXXX,XXXXX X MCF:EX [mailto:XXXXX.XX.X@gov.bc.ca]
Sent: December-03-12 3:03 PM
To: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Subject: Christmas Gifts for XXXXXX
Please be advised that due to cutbacks, MCFD will not be supplying Christmas gifts for children in care.
As parents and extended family, you are still expected to provide a gift for your child if you wish to do so.
XXXXXXX XXXXXXX Child Protection Social Worker
Ministry of Children and Family Development "
So now we have a conundrum.
We have two sources making the same allegations, an email transcript backing up those allegations and a government denying and refuting all of it.
After posting this, a reader of mine who lives in Children and Families' Minister Stephanie Cadieux's riding phoned her office because he was so appalled. Her office in turn phoned Victoria and reported back to him that the ministry was allowing the purchase of gifts — making it sound like a sudden policy change.
I sent a copy of the email to ministry staff asking for a comment, and this was the official response of the Ministry of Children and Family Development:
"Any claim that the ministry will not be supplying Christmas gifts for children in care is absolutely inaccurate and it is very concerning that this erroneous message was sent to a client. In fact, social workers are encouraged to ensure every child and youth in care receives gifts during the holiday season.
Funding to cover gifts for children and youth in care is built-in to monthly payments the ministry sends to foster parents. For children and youth living independently or on Youth Agreements, ministry staff are authorized and encouraged to ensure those young people are remembered over the holidays and gifts are provided."
Isn't that great? It's all just big miscommunication! I think it is just fabulous to find out that not one kid in care in this province will go without a gift this year, however small, because of cutbacks — in particular because this is a Families First government after all.
And if you have also been in receipt of one of those emails, please send it along to me so we can make sure there are no more misunderstandings or "erroneous" information out there.
Because you know, I think a lot of people would find it hard to stomach a government that just promised a tough budget was coming, only to find out it was at the cost of a little bit of Christmas for kids who need it most.
Follow Laila Yuile on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lailayuile