$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

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

(File photo)
Poverty reduction survey identifies 10 poverty themes

Poverty reduction plan will be finalized in July 2021

Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly says he has no intentions of leaving the Green Party. (House of Commons image)
Island Green MPs have “no intention” of leaving the party after ‘heartbreaking’ departure

Manly, May only remaining Green MPs after Jenica Atwin left for the Liberals over internal disputes

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of May 30-June 5. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
COVID-19 cases drop again almost everywhere on Vancouver Island

Nanaimo had four new cases last week, down from 22 the week before

Justine Keefer’s Cedar Elementary School Grade 6/7 class put together a student paper, as part of a school project. Pictured here Andrew Gregory, left, Felix Leduc, Addison Armstrong, Lucia Walker and Anise Dick. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Cedar Elementary School students create their own newspaper

Grade 6/7 class publishes Wolf Pack News as part of language arts and social studies

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

A view of the outside of St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral on Victoria’s Blanshard Street. (Don Denton/News staff)
Vancouver Island bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon of the Diocese of Victoria voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Most Read