As of today, B.C. is without an independent child and youth representative.
After nearly a decade on the job, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is departing after serving two terms, which is the maximum allowed for the position.
She is speaking today for the last time to the select standing committee on children and youth.
But that bi-partisan committed tasked with replacing her hasn’t yet found a successor.
“It is conceivable that there could be a gap and it is conceivable that some of the work that is in progress may not be completed or may be delayed and that is not within my scope of authority right now, it is up to the legislature to get this leadership situation resolved, it is in their hands.”
Turpel Lafond adds because the committee hasn’t yet found her replacement, she wasn’t able to work with the new representative to get them up to speed.
“Not having a new person to close my office and pass the role to means there really at this point no further functions for me to perform and I’ve left the office in the best condition I can.”
Turpel-Lafond says a report into the high-profile death of Alex Gervais- the 18-year-old who fell from an Abbotsford motel window while in the care of the government, was suppose to be released next month.
She says that’s now in jeopardy.
“You just won’t have the role, so the role won’t be there until there is a fully empowered functioning representative in the role again.”
Turpel-Lafonde’s last day on paper was set to be November 27th, but several weeks of unused vacation means she’s off the job now.
Full time job
B.C.’s first independent office overseeing child welfare cases has been busy since it’s inception.
It’s issued 93 reports and made 189 recommendations.
The office says as of 2014 the provincial government implemented 72% of its recommendations.
It’s received 3,500 reports of critical incidents involving children receiving services from the government, including more than 900 deaths.
The office says it’s opened more than 16,000 “direct advocacy cases” helping children and youth and their families navigate the system of government services.