Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Campbell's Liberal Government Has Really Done to BC's Children

It's time to review the Campbell Liberals record of supporting children, youth, families and vulnerable individuals over the last 8 years.

The spirit and soul of a government and it's leaders can be seen in how it treats it children, it's most vulnerable and it's citizens who are most at-risk, in need and fragile. When you objectively look at their record, it cannot be denied that Campbell's Liberal government has failed the children, families and most vulnerable people in BC time & time again.

Campbell's Election Slogan: All of what I've tried to do in Public life is about Children

Last month, during his year-end interview with The Canadian Press's Dirk Meissner, Premier Gordon Campbell said "all of what I've tried to do in public life is about children." This, in response to questions about his administration's commitment to protecting and improving the lives of the province's most vulnerable children.

Public Eye Online.
BC is #1
  • #1 in leading Canada in child poverty. And remember, that was through years of "economic boom time" in BC, "The Best Place on Earth."
  • The percentage of children living in poverty rose from 17 per cent in 2001 to over 21 per cent in 2006 (First Call). Now that percentage stands at 21.9%.
  • The national child poverty rate is 15.8%.
  • Almost one in four children in BC lives in poverty, that amounts to approximately 181,000 poor children who are not receiving the basic necessities they need for healthy and optimal development.
  • B.C. has the second lowest wage in the country. It will be dead last by fall 2009 in the province with the highest cost of living in Canada.
  • What do we supposed will happen now that thousands and thousands of workers are losing their bread winning jobs in the province.
This is what child poverty looks like:
  • Kids go to school and to bed at night hungry and repeat this cycle day in and day out.
  • Parents go to the food bank, to find the shelves are empty and they can't get enough food to feed their kids. They feel shame and humiliation and feel like failures as parents.
  • Kids don't have winter jackets, boots, or warm clothes.
  • Poor children and youth get laughed at and bullied by other kids because their parents can't afford the latest fashions, I-Pods and cell phones.
  • Poor kids learn to feel shame, embarassment and helpless because they are treated different, they are singled out and they can't fit in. Thesefeelings and the trauma of deprivation stays with them for the rest of their lives.
  • More and more children, youth and families are being counted in homeless counts around BC.
  • Children and youth are sexually abused and exploited so they can survive.
  • Adults have sex with children and offer them food, shelter and drugs in return.
  • Children and youth get addicted to drugs to numb them so they can survive.
  • Young people steal food, dumpster dive and get discarded food out of the garbage to survive.
It is the choice of the current government's social and public policies that each year more and more of our children are experiencing the things above. It's our actions that can change that.

2008 BC Child Poverty Report Card
First Call: BC Child & Youth Advocacy Coalition

B.C.'s Shame: The highest child poverty rate in Canada
CTV (04/01/2009)
Despite positive changes in other provinces, B.C.'s child poverty rate has remained stubbornly high - a problem that could cost our health care system in the future.

MONDAY: The highest child poverty rate in Canada

TUESDAY: One woman's struggle to provide

WEDNESDAY: Food banks jammed with kids

"the province deducts any income that a welfare recipient gets off of his or her welfare check. B.C. is the only province in Canada that deducts new income dollar for dollar, making it very difficult to get out of the assistance program."

THURSDAY: Poverty's dangerous consequences

Cut Funds, Staff & Constantly Re-organized the Child Welfare System in BC

Anyone who has the misfortune to deal with, be involved with, or work in the child welfare system knows that the cuts Campbell meted out, 11% in funding and thousands of jobs slashed has left children, youth and families in unsafe situations. They have little support, few resources and are a whole worse off than before this government applied a corporate model that has caused harm that will play out through BC for the next decades as a result.

After the vastly incompetent, morally adrift "leadership" of Campbell's hand-picked Lesley Du Toit, with a system that is even more broken, protects fewer children and youth and is about to be decimated further if the Liberals get in again, BC's children & families cannot afford another 4 years. They're already planning the cuts of even more staff.

If the child welfare system actually met it's mandate this kind of thing would not be necessary:

Police Back Plan for Centre Targeting Child Abuse
Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist.
April 18, 2009.

The centre provides a "one-stop" unit for investigating sexual abuse and serious physical abuse of children, and for support and counselling for child victims and their families. [See

Ford said that while many people and agencies do excellent work in Victoria, there are still cases where children fall through the cracks. In some instances, officials don't have experience interviewing children or investigating child sexual abuse.

Public still in dark 2 years after horrific abuse case
4-year-old girl was battered, starving after placement with unstable relative

Lindsay Kines, Times Colonist. Published: Monday, May 05, 2008.

Yet, two years after the battered and starving girl was hospitalized in Prince George, the public still has no clear idea how such a travesty could happen, or what the B.C. government has done to prevent it from happening again.

Extreme ministry makeover?

Public Eye Online, November 01, 2007 .

The ministry of children and family development made $560,120 in renovations to the fourth floor of its Victoria headquarters, Public Eye has learned. That amount was $300,000 more than the original budget suggested the ministry’s executive financial officer Sarf Ahmed.

In an email, top ministry bureaucrat Lesley du Toit stated the "Minister agrees on why we are doing (the renovations) and is OK with going ahead."
  • For the 2007-2008 Fiscal Year - Lesley du Toit was the 7th highest paid Senior bureaucrat in the Campbell regime.
  • Her salary was $234,180.
  • I'm sure the 181,000 and growing poor children in BC (and their parents) will be happy to know that on top of her actual salary, she also receives a $2000 a month for a "living allowance" for the hardship of living in Victoria.
  • Some might say taking food out of the mouths of the poorest children in Canada.
  • We don't know how much of a bonus she's received for the most incompetent performance in the entire Campbell government. Things have never been worse for many young people and families in BC.

Give me shelter

Public Eye Online on March 26, 2007.

Earlier, we revealed children and family development deputy minister Lesley du Toit gets a $2,000 per month living allowance on top of her $207,900 annual salary. And here's a surprise: she's the only top bureaucrat to get such an allowance... it was negotiated as part of her contract that, while she was here, she would receive a living allowance rather than moving her over here on a permanent basis."

FYI - Du Toit's been living in BC and receiving government contracts
since at least 2001. She was appointed Deputy Minister on April 18, 2006, which means she's now been paid an extra $2000 a month for the last 3 years. That could buy a lot of food for the children of BC.

Community Living Services in BC

A flawed and corrupt plan from the start, it was Doug Walls, Campbell's relative by marriage who was appointed to create the blueprint for the devolution and privatization of Community Living services for THE most vulnerable citizens in BC and the families who desperately need the support of their government.

This privatization has been an abject failure and a human rights travesty. It is so bad, that the province has no choice but to transfer Children's Services back to the government mothership of Ministry of Children & Family Development because of the lack of funding and resources to meet the needs of these children, our children with developmental disabilities.

Waitlists are in the thousands and are by no means even competently or transparently created, maintained or reduced. The entire system of care has been underfunded from the get go. One might ask who gained from it when Campbell's architect, Walls was found guilty of fraud, MCFD Minister Gordon Hogg resigned from cabinet and Deputy Minister Chris Haynes ended up being fired because all knew Walls was subject to RCMP investigation at the time he was given untendered government contracts that have never produced a thing and was put in charge of designing a system that has failed so many developmentally disabled children, adults and families when they have nowhere else to turn.

Bad management, but no fraud in Walls affair: report
CBC News. May 12, 2004 .

An independent auditor's report indicates there is no evidence of fraud or misappropriation of funds in the Ministry of Children and Family Development's dealings with Doug Walls.

However, the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report is critical of the ministry's procedures in awarding contracts. It notes the ministry wrote off almost $1.128 million in debt to CareNet, a society controlled by Walls – who was the CEO of the ministry's Community Living B.C. It also notes that $300,000 in contracts were awarded to Walls or companies controlled by him – and those contracts were not awarded according to government procedures.

The PriceWaterhouseCoopers report also criticizes Walls' involvement in the interim authority for Community Living B.C.

And it says Walls attempted to "insinuate" himself into an influential position in the ministry.

The investigation involving Walls cast a shadow over the ministry – forcing Gordon Hogg to resign as minister in January and his deputy Chris Haynes was fired.

Haynes had very close ties to Walls, with the report stating that Walls tried to "insinuate" himself into an influential circle of people within the ministry.

Haynes has now been given a severance package of $288,000, which Hogg calls "exorbitant."

Doug Walls and Millard Sentenced
250 News March 08, 2007.

Walls was a former School District 57 Trustee and was an executive with the Liberal Party. He is related by marriage to Premier Gordon Campbell. That relationship prompted the case to be reviewed by special prosecutor Josiah Wood, and the case was heard by Justice Patrick Dohm.

Shortly after the company’s failure, Walls resurfaced with a contract with the provincial government. He, along with the Minister of Children and Families Gordon Hogg, lost their positions over the matter.

No jail for former B.C. official over bank fraud

He admitted he defrauded the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce of more than $5,000 in a scheme that included writing bad cheques.

Premier Gordon Campbell's Liberal government later hired Walls to revamp B.C.'s interim Community Living Authority.

Walls, a former Liberal riding association president, is related by marriage to the premier, and was once a close family friend of Education Minister Shirley Bond.


Community Living BC: Broke & Languishing

Five Great Goals of the Campbell Liberal government:

Goal #3 - Build the best system of support in Canada for persons with disabilities, those with special needs, children at risk and seniors.

Community Living discussion paper

Apr 7 '08
"Despite a strong mandate and shared vision, the system is failing." That's one of the findings in a discussion paper on the state of community living services in the province of British Columbia that was produced by the BCGEU.

End Waitlists Now - BC Association of Community Living

Families speak out against waitlists at press conference

Cuts to Legal Aid for Low-income Families

A government that would actually cut access to legal representation in family court for abused women and their children, is one that has shown it's true face and it's an ugly one.

Rights & Remedies: Legal Aid Cuts Hurting Abused Women
March 25, 2009.

Legal Aid Cuts Hit Women Again
Westcoast Leaf, January 15, 2009.

In November 2008, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women stated in a report,The Committee is concerned at reports that financial support for civil legal aid has diminished and that access to it has become increasingly restricted, in particular in British Columbia, consequently denying low-income women access to legal representation and legal services.

Access to Justice: Restore legal aid in BC - The Petition Site

From the BC Coroners Service - Child Death Review Unit

The "955 Transition Files" of the former Children's Commission – November 2006

** Remember the Children's Commission, the office Campbell closed upon assuming power. The "transition" files were those of dead children & youth that were warehoused by his government.

Child and Youth Deaths in B.C.Statistics, 1997 to 2004
**No statistics readily available from 2004 to 2009.

Abashed minister admits error in censoring report
Privacy watchdog 'perplexed' by omissions in report on childhood sex abuse treatments.
Lindsay Kines Times Colonist. November 05, 2008.

The B.C. Children's Ministry was wrong to censor a critical report on its sexual abuse treatment program before releasing it to the Time Colonist last year, an independent watchdog has found.

Even if it had been allowed, Loukidelis said the ministry didn't use the exception properly. He called it "perplexing" that the ministry chose to blank out negative comments, while leaving positive and neutral comments untouched.

FOI cover up, or isolated mistake - your call
Paul Willcocks: Paying Attention. Tuesday, November 11, 2008.

Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner - David Loukidelis Investigation Report F08-03:
Ministry of Children & Family Development.
November 4, 2008.

Loukidelis stated the Ministry believed they made an "understandable mistake," he further noted that "none of the evidence clearly establishes that the Ministry's head [in this case Deputy Minister Lesley Du Toit] considered the exercise of discretion in deciding to rely on s.13(1)to withhold information , as opposed to waiving that section and releasing the information, and if the head did exercise discretion, on what basis."

Premier's gold medals make NDP see red
Only name on construction workers' 'decoration' is Campbell's
Michael Smyth, The Province. Published: Friday, November 21, 2008.

2008 Progress Report on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the BC Children & Youth Review
("Hughes Review"). Representative for Children & Youth.

VIDEO: Heather Robinson reports: B.C.'s child protection system still broken: watchdog (Runs 1:12) CBC News.

Government still has not completed child-welfare changes, children's representative says
Victoria Times Colonist. Lindsay Kines, December 11, 2008.

B.C. failing on child protection: Watchdog
The Canadian Press. CTV. Thu Dec. 11 2008. Excerpts:

VICTORIA — B.C.'s children's watchdog accused the provincial government of spending more time working on plans to protect vulnerable children than actually implementing programs to protect them.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Thursday the government is moving too slowly when it comes to fulfilling its promise to implement 62 recommendations from an April 2006 report that called for stability in British Columbia's child welfare system.

81 children in B.C. killed themselves in last 4 years: report
CBC News, Canada. Tuesday, December 02, 2008.

Panel makes recommendation on child suicide prevention

“Seventy per cent of these children had shown signs of suicidal behaviour and most had reached out to someone for help before their deaths,” said Kellie Kilpatrick, director of the Child Death Review Unit, in a press release.

Ten percent dissent okay with du Toit!
Sean Holman. Public Eye Online. May 2, 2007.

In an email, sent to executive team members on January 28, deputy minister Lesley du Toit writes "if any of your managers…are not 90% of the way there and able to be genuinely positive and facilitating of change, then be very sure that you do not appoint them in this new structure."

I have held discussions with both the Premier and Minister on this matter and will have one more discussion with the minister before the 6th. At our meeting on the 6th will spend most of our time on discussing the regionalization of MCFD's services, decision-making, and community engagement. This will include how we intend to proceed with self governance in relation to Aboriginal services.

MCFD provincial office will logically over the next 4 years be downsized as we move to full regionalization. Therefore, please keep your teams lean and mean so that we do not end up having to move endless people later or find them new positions.


"The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped." - Hubert Humphrey

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