A new report from BC’s Representative for Children & Youth revealed that 470 children in foster care go missing each month. Today I asked Premier David Eby to explain if the kids under his care are safe. He could not be bothered to stand and answer. The BC NDP are failing to protect our most vulnerable children.
Hundreds of kids are fleeing every month, because they feel isolated, vulnerable, and traumatized. Separating children from their families & communities and forcing them into the so-called child welfare system does more harm than good.
Kids in care are subject to a revolving door of social workers and foster parents. They have no community connection, stability or trust and are too often found in unsafe situations. The biggest risk is sexual violence & Indigenous girls face this disproportionately.
Premier David Eby’s reluctance to answer was covered by Minister Mitzi Dean who stood to say “work was underway & there was more to be done.” That’s cold comfort to the families who don’t know where their children are.
When in opposition, the BC NDP attacked the BC Liberals for ignoring reports by Representative for Children & Youth, saying “the Premier does 2 things: blames somebody else & then promises to do better. But it doesn’t get better.” It’s sad how quickly this government has forgotten what they stood for.
Children in care are in danger each day under this government, as they were with every provincial government before. MCFD removes kids for their “safety”, but BC’s worst parent continues to be this government. The BC NDP must prioritize the wellbeing of our province’s kids.
I never thought that I would see a time when a government, that professed to know exactly what was good for children in care when they were in opposition, missed the mark so entirely when they’re in government.
Last week, the official opposition raised serious concerns about the Ministry of Children and Family Development, specifically the number of children in care experiencing critical injuries and deaths. Just a few days later, a report came out showing that 470 children per month go missing from the foster care system in our province. That number is probably higher, but the Ministry of Children and Family Development doesn’t keep good data to reflect it. Hundreds of kids are fleeing every month because they feel isolated, vulnerable and traumatized. Separating children from their families and their communities traumatizes them. It’s only made worse by the so-called child welfare system in this province, subjecting children to a revolving door of social workers, foster parents and support.
The biggest risk to them is sexualized violence and those kids are disproportionately Indigenous girls. My question is to the Premier — these kids are under his care, what responsibility does he have for the children that go missing every month?
Hon. M. Dean:
Thank you to the member for the question. The injury or death of any child is an absolute terrible tragedy, and my heart goes out to anybody….
Shhh. Shhh. Shhh. Members.
The minister will continue.
Hon. M. Dean:
Nothing is more important than the safety and the well-being of the children and youth who are in our care. When a child or youth in care does go missing, we want them to receive the same response that a caring parent would give.
The representative’s report contains some really solid, important suggestions about how the ministry can strengthen its policies and procedures, and we will be acting on those recommendations. At the same time, work is already underway within the ministry to ensure that placements meet the needs of children and youth who come into care, and increase that sense of belonging and cultural connection and making sure that children and youth stay connected to their family, to their community and to their culture.
Our goal is to support children and youth to remain safely with their families and prevent them from entering the foster care system in the first place, where possible.
Member for Saanich North and the Islands, supplemental.
I would like to be able to take this government at their word. The reality is, when they’re talking about fulfilling the recommendations from the RCY report, they think that 10 percent, 15 percent is something to take a victory lap about. But it is not. That’s leaving 85 percent of the recommendations unfulfilled.
“Report after report has documented the B.C. Liberals’ decisions to abandon our most vulnerable children. The representative has shown us that and, after each report, the Premier does two things, she blames somebody else and then she promises to do better, but it doesn’t get better.”
You know who said that? That was the former member from Mount Pleasant, Melanie Mark, speaking of the former Premier Christy Clark’s government in 2017. The B.C. NDP government uses, essentially, the same rhetoric — we’re making progress, but there’s more work to do, fewest Indigenous kids in care.
It’s true. This government has made changes, but the reality is it’s just like under the previous government. We’ve heard this minister complain about the hundreds of kids in care endangered every month under this B.C. NDP
MCFD removes kids from their families for their safety. But what’s been demonstrated, government after government after government in this province, is that the province is not a good parent for those children. My question is to the Premier. Does he think that the kids in the government’s care under his watch are safe?
Hon. M. Dean:
Thank you to the member for the question. We’re absolutely committed to make sure that all children and youth in our care are safe, happy and healthy. We will make sure that they stay connected to family, to community and to culture, because we know that that leads to the best outcomes for them as well.
Work is underway in response to all of the recommendations that the Representative for Children and Youth has made. We’re also transforming the child welfare system. We’ve taken action for youth transitioning from care. We’ve taken action with Bill 38, implementing Indigenous jurisdiction over child welfare. We’ve taken action in budget 2023 with increased supports for youth in care and caregiver rate increases. Every single day, we continue to care for children and youth and to support them to thrive.