$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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dale family was prominent in Summerland’s past

Ruth Dale taught for many years

Penticton Vees comeback for overtime win to end regular season

The Vees were down 3-0 to start the third before putting together an epic comeback.

PHOTOS: Celebrating diversity in Penticton

Seventh annual OneWorld Festival celebrates the worlds of different cultures in the South Okanagan.

Fiery collision involving truck closes Highway 1 at Three Valley Gap

Drivers should expect major delays and congestion; estimated time of re-opening is 2 p.m.

WATCH: Van, tools stolen from Penticton company facing third theft in one month

An Eckert Electric Ltd. van was stolen this morning at gas station with employees close by

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Kelowna RCMP make arrest in fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Elijah Beauregard

An 18-year-old woman is in police custody facing a manslughter charge.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

Most Read