Tuesday, February 23, 2016

MLA Rice speaks out in support of Representative for Children and Youth

On Monday morning, North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice raised a number of issues related to the December release of the Plecas Report from the Ministry of Family and Child Development, noting how the document of overview of the Ministry continues to leave the Province's Representative for Children and Youth cloaked in a negative light.

For the Legislature, Ms. Rice, highlighted the work of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the province's Representative for Children and Youth, recounting the over 15,000 advocacy files that she and her staff have worked on since the Office was established in 2007.

Calling attention to the number of reports generated that have raised concerns and awareness when it comes to the province's attention to issues for Children and Families, while noting that year after year, the budget for the Ministry of Children and Families still comes up short in providing sufficient funding to provide required services.

Just this month, the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth tabled their comprehensive report on youth mental health services in B.C., identifying gaps and making concrete, urgent recommendations. Yet that service area in MCFD lost ground in this year's budget.

As well, Ms. Rice noted that the provincial government at times does not act on recommendations  from the Representative's office and that it has still to take action in four key areas from a two year old report from Ms. Turpel-Lafond which covered major concerns where the needs of children were not being properly addressed.

Other times, reports by the representative have not been as successful in creating change in the government's approach. In her 2014 report titled, Not Fully Invested: A Follow-Up Report on the Representative's Past Recommendations to Help Vulnerable Children in B.C., Ms. Turpel-Lafond highlighted four areas where key recommendations remain unaddressed by government. Those are children in situations of domestic violence, children and youth experiencing mental health challenges, child poverty and vulnerable aboriginal children and youth.

In her comments to the Legislature, the North Coast MLA also observed that a negative portrayal of the Representative for Children and Youth of December, part of the Plecas Review, commissioned for the Ministry of Children and Family Development needs to be clarified by the provincial government.

That report, which suggested that her office be phased out was not well received from a range of groups and organizations, as well as First Nations, which all noted that the provincial government had appeared to be directing its attention in the wrong decision.

B. C.'s Turpel-Lafond deserves credit for role as children's watchdog
Eliminating Turpel-Lafond's office would be a betrayal of B. C.'s vulnerable children
Plecas delivers insider's point of view
Turpel-Lafond, media and opposition blamed for problems at Ministry of Children and Family Development
Report blames critics for 'instability' at B. C.'s Children's Ministry
Child welfare report deemed a witch hunt
Child protection report on 'culture of blame' leads to accusations

Monday morning, Ms. Rice further called on the Minister of Children and Family Development to provide a public statement of support for Ms. Turpel-Lafond and her work, repudiating any negative impression that the government report may have delivered in December.

You can review her full comments to the Legislature from the Monday morning Hansard account of the proceedings, found just after the 10:40 AM point.

Video of MLA Rice's presentation to the Legislature can be found on Monday Morning's Chamber Video Archive starting at the period of time listed above.

For more items on developments from the Legislature see our archive page here.

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