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Question Period: MLA Olsen, MCFD

October 19, 2023
   6 min read
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Today during Question Period, Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands reiterated the call for the resignation of the Minister of Children and Family Development following a second audit and ongoing failures of MCFD.

Olsen: Yesterday we saw another audit of the tragic outcomes in the Ministry of Children and Family Development. This ministry needs to be torn down brick by brick and rebuilt. Yet, what we have is a minister who is a little more than an apologist for the status quo.

Why is this Premier permitting this dereliction of duty under his watch? What is the magic number of so-called heartfelt apologies before this Premier, actually, addresses the systemic failure of the MCFD?

The accountability vacuum at the highest levels in this ministry send a message to everybody else in the system that there simply is no accountability. These children have been neglected their entire lives. They’re neglected by the system, by the minister, by the senior staff and now by this Premier.

Will the Premier replace the minister and the senior staff with people who have the capacity and the willingness to do the systemic change that’s needed in this ministry?

Hon. M. Dean: I absolutely hear his passion and his concern, and I agree with it as well.

Having spent time on the front lines and many decades in this sector, I too am passionate about making sure that children are loved, that they are well cared for…

Interjection.

Mr. Speaker: Shhh.

Hon. M. Dean: …and that they are nurtured, and that they’re safeguarded and they’re supported to thrive and to fulfil their potential.

We know that for far too long Indigenous children and youth have been overrepresented in the child welfare system due to the colonial history and the so-called residential schools and Sixties Scoop.

Our government has taken steps to demonstrate our commitment to change that. We’re supporting Indigenous jurisdiction. We’ve harmonized care rates for out of care with foster carers. We increased foster carers rates by 47 per cent. We’re seeing the lowest number of children and youth in care, and we still need to make transformations to the system.

I am absolutely determined to make sure that we continue to make those improvements to keep all of our children safe.

Mr. Speaker: Member has supplemental.

Olsen: Yesterday in this House, the Minister of Children and Family Development admitted that basic social work policies and procedures were not followed — essentially, admitting to not doing her job.

To my B.C. NDP colleagues who are discomforted by this question, the nerve that I’m touching here is, actually, hypocrisy.

One set of standards for Stephanie Cadieux and another for themselves. We will see if this Premier, actually, measures himself against the values he had when he was in opposition.

John Horgan made the same point to the former Premier Christy Clark. On October 7, 2015, he was unequivocal. The minister, he said, was responsible. He demanded the minister protect children and not the institution, and he called for new leadership.

Horgan said: “Bring in new eyes and a new vision for protecting children of British Columbia.” Our current Premier was in the background of that video, nodding in agreement.

There was a culture in responsible governments where ministers who embarrass the government resigned in order to protect the honour of the office. It appears from the behaviours of this government that there is no honour left in this ministry.

[11:30 a.m.]

To the Premier, will he demand a resignation or fire the minister and the senior ministerial staff and restore some honour back to this place?

Hon. M. Dean: Thank you to the member for the question.

It is a very, very serious matter that the member is raising, and it is in my head and in my heart every single day that we need to continue to be making improvements and that we need to continue safeguarding children and youth and making sure that every child and youth in the province is safe.

I have directed the ministry staff to make sure that we have made changes and that the changes have been fully implemented, and have put measures in that will do exactly that and will safeguard all children and youth around the whole of the province.

We’re also bringing in an independent consultant to review the measures that we have taken to make sure that they are being effective. We’re also accelerating the hiring of the Indigenous Director of Child Welfare. We have taken measures. We’ve put extra layers of accountability in to make sure that those measures are effective, because this kind of a tragedy cannot happen again. I am absolutely driven to make sure that this does not happen.

Official Hansard transcript HERE

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