Cutting watchdog just makes mess invisible

Gee, what a surprise that a former deputy minister recommends that they get rid of the pesky whistle-blower

Gee, what a surprise that a former deputy minister recommends that they get rid of the pesky whistle-blower and move all the jobs under the government muzzle.

It’s really tough not to be cynical about the goings-on at the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Everyone seems to agree that it is drastically understaffed and underfunded. How did we get to this state of emergency, without someone stopping the avalanche along the way? It took the B.C. government turning a blind eye and a deaf ear deliberately and repeatedly to the needs of the young people in care and the social workers who try to do a halfway decent job of looking out for them, though their caseloads make it all but impossible.

While it’s nice that Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux has said that her government does plan to increase resources for the ministry, we doubt it will be the $100 million Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says is needed to keep up with the caseload.

It’s taken years to get here, with the Liberals firmly at the helm. Over many of those years Turpel-Lafond has been the only champion youth in care in this province have had. She’s been the persistent and unflinching canary in the coal mine, even though her reports have no doubt made her unpopular in the corridors of power.

As that public voice, Turpel-Lafond is essential.

One can only imagine how much would ever get out to the public should Bob Plecas, that former deputy minister, have the recommendations in his recent report adopted. Plecas is a highly respected, long serving, former civil servant, but perhaps it’s a problem that he’s too familiar with the backrooms and closed-door meetings of the legislature.

His suggestions would lead to the public being granted somewhere between scant and no information. His suggestion that an internal “contrarian” and a ministry spokesperson could do the same job that Turpel-Lafond is doing is dangerous nonsense that will see the responsibility for terrible mistakes buried along with the bodies.

The idea that an all-party committee of MLAs could be briefed on child death and serious injury cases and that opposition MLAs would then take up the oversight and criticism role is a total non-starter. Let’s be honest here, when have the majority Liberals ever taken anything the minority opposition MLAs have to say seriously, let alone seriously enough to make changes?

While some of these recommendations may be good for the ruling government, we don’t think they’re good news for those who are caught in this broken system. And they’re the ones who are most important, aren’t they?

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