The Minister of Children of Family Development, Mitzi Dean, continues to let down British Columbia’s most vulnerable children. Internal audits continue to show the Minister’s team is failing to deliver the most basic social work policy and procedures, fails to deliver oversight of their offices, fail to deliver required home visits, and fail to deliver the necessary paperwork.
As I outline in my questions to the Minister and Premier David Eby, the BC NDP have demonstrated that they have two sets of standards, one standard that they held the former government and Minister to, and one standard they hold themselves to.
It is past time we see the transformational change Minister Dean often talks about delivering but that she is not doing.
Read more about the recent audit that inspired this question here:
The B.C. NDP government must at least hold themselves to the same standard as they held government when they were in opposition. When the B.C. NDP were led by John Horgan in opposition, they set an appropriate standard. When a Minister of Children and Family Development repeatedly fails to protect the most vulnerable children in our province, they must step aside. The current minister thought highly of the former Premier and the words of John Horgan to the former minister on September 28 is as applicable today as it was then.
He said: “In light of the pattern over the past few months, hon. Speaker, through you to the minister, how is it possible you can continue to believe that you have the leadership skills to navigate this sensitive ministry and stop protecting the ministry and start protecting children?”
Hon. M. Dean:
Thank you to the member for the question. Again, as I said last week, I understand his passion and his concern and I share that, as well.
As the minister, I have been and will continue to be determined to drive transformative change through my role as minister. That means through legislation, through policy, through budgetary measures. For example, we passed legislation last year to support Indigenous jurisdiction.
Mr. Speaker: Member, supplemental.
That had very little to do with the actual question that I was asking. It’s about the leadership of the entire ministry.
That September 2015, the B.C. NDP were questioning the former minister about the death of a young man in her care. B.C. NDP stood member after member, day after day; Horgan, James Donaldson, Mongol, Simpson all stood and called for the minister to step aside.
That was eight years ago. Despite claims that the minister just made that this ministry is undergoing transformation, reports continue rolling in describing the awful neglect and harm that this ministry is causing. Incredibly, the minister agrees with the criticism, offers a weak apology and then stubbornly flouts the long tradition of responsible governance.
If she won’t go on her own, then we need unwavering leadership from the Premier to do what is right. But so far this Premier waivers, waiting until the timing works for him, putting his political agenda against the welfare of our children.
Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, will he do the right thing, replace his minister and her senior staff at the Ministry of Children and Family Development?
Hon. M. Dean:
Thank you to the member. As soon as the ministry learned of the problems in the particular foster home 2½ years ago, action was taken. The ministry made sure that all of the children that team was responsible for were seen and that their placements were safe and nurturing and loving. All of those placement decisions were reviewed, and other steps have been taken to increase accountability and to increase oversight as well. Extra checks and extra layers have been put in. I directed staff. I said to them: “You need to be able to show me that all of the children and youth in our care are safe and are being loved and being well taken care of.”
Mr. Speaker: Member. Member for Surrey South.
Hon. M. Dean:
Every single year, the Ministry of Children and Family Development under the NDP government has seen an increase in its budget. We’re supporting young people and diverting them away from the highway to homelessness. We’re supporting young people, children and youth actually living in out-of-care placements, unlike under the previous government where the budget was gutted.
[View my blog post here: https://adamolsen.ca/2023/23/