Another scathing report from B.C.’s children’s watchdog, this time on the staffing levels of front-line workers in the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
“We have systemically starved the child protection service.”
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says there are actually fewer front-line workers today than there were in 2002.
And as a result, she says it’s virtually impossible to meet child protection standards.
“The provincial government needs to step up and fund child protection at a level that will consistently keep children safe and allow staff to meet, what I think, are reasonable standards, that should be met and could be met and are in fact met in many other jurisdictions.”
Turpel-Lafond says three children in foster care took their lives in 2014. That’s the highest number in a decade. She connects that to the lack of front-line workers.
Minister says report is dated
In a statement, Minister Stephanie Cadieux says Turpel-Lafond’s data were gathered between November 2014 and January 2015.
She says, since then, the ministry has hired 110 new child protection workers.
But Turpel-Lafond says 91 staff have left during the time those 110 were hired, so it’s just too modest of a step.
She suggests 250 workers need to be hired just to catch up.
How much will it cost to fix?
Turpel-Lafond says it would take just 6 per cent of the ministry’s surplus dedicated to hiring to help hire 200 workers, which would go a long way.
That works out to about $20 million.
But it doesn’t look like new funding is on the way.
“The challenge is always to balance the demands of all of the ministries and all of the real needs of the province with the dollars that are available,” Cadieux says.