They are often at odds. But this time the Ministry of Children and Family Development and BC’s children’s watchdog are working together.
The ministry and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the representative for children and youth, have launched a joint review of the use of hotels to house children in the province’s care.
It will look at the use of hotels, demographics of kids using them, the reasons for it, and potential risks.
Criticism of the practice grew after the September death of 18-year-old Alex Gervais, who plunged from his Abbotsford hotel’s window, months before he was set to age out of the system.
The ministry had previously said the practice wasn’t to be used except in an emergency, but it turns out, the teen had been living there for months.
The final report is expected to be released before the year’s end.
Turpel-Lafond says the joint review is historic.
While her office has undertaken reviews with MCFD on less controversial topics, like adoption, she says this review acknowledges there needs to be “joint accountability” on the use of hotels.
She admits her office has been at odds with the ministry before, but says this time, she’s optimistic.
“However, it’s really important to note, that should the ministry for whatever reason decide that they do not want to bring full report out on the use of hotels, my office can unilaterally report on that subject. But I felt that it was in the best interest of protection for children if we did this together.”
She says individual investigations into deaths of youth in care will still take place.
LISTEN to our special report on this announcement:
In September, Turpel-Lafond spoke with Simi Sara about what she had discovered, in regards to children living in hotels, after Gervais’ death.
LISTEN to that interview here: