Friday, July 31, 2009

The BC Liberal Regime Destroys Another Child & Family: The Criminalization of Poverty

"While we remain the worst in Canada, we certainly have not seen a growth in child poverty in B.C.," she said.

- Honourable Mary Polak - Minister of Child & Family Development

So, lets get this straight. The "child protection" system, in their infinite wisdom, decides to take a healthy, well loved and cared for infant, two months old, away from his parents, with whom the child was safe and had experienced NO reported abuse, or neglect. The reason for the apprehension - the parents could not find the magical housing MCFD told them they had to find.
MCFD, doesn't even bother to help refer the young parents to any services, or help them find housing themselves. And, the welfare system flat out refuses to provide the mother with access to income assistance and funds for housing. And MCFD doesn't advocate for the mother to get welfare either. Then, when healthy baby gets into the hell of foster care, he is moved to no less than 3 different foster homes and EXPERIENCES SOME SORT OF CRITICAL INJURY AND TRAUMATIC HEAD INJURY WITHIN ONE OF MCFD'S FOSTER HOMES - LEAVING HIM PERMANENTLY DISABLED - BLIND IN ONE EYE, WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AND IS UNABLE TO WALK, OR MEET HIS DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES. He's put into a 4th foster home, before MCFD sends him home, disabled for life.

If this case does not send chills down the back of anyone who has children I don't know what will? No matter who you are, how much money you have, your position, or class in life - once you are in the grip of BC's nightmarish child protection system, you will understand the sheer terror of having your own children being held hostage to a system lacking in common sense, competence, compassion and sanity. Bosch would have found this great fodder for his art.

Now are people starting to get why being #1 in Canada for child poverty 6 years in a row is bad for BC's children & families? It isn't just rhetoric - poverty hurts children, it puts families into crisis and the systems that should be there to help them, instead push them over the edge and then after they screw up, they give broken babies back to families to deal with.
  • We should all be asking ourselves, how many more children has this sort of thing happened to?
  • How many children have been put into the child protection blender and come out worse than when they went in?
  • Why is so much power and authority given to a Ministry and it's minions when, in many instances, they clearly are unable to operate with a duty of care that is called for?
  • How much longer do we tolerate this?
A Word to those Who Aren't Wise - MCFD and the BC government and their flotilla of soulless parasitic lawyers (aka Justice Branch) better wise up and offer a timely and fair settlement to these parents and this child. For the rest of their days and that innocent baby's time on this planet this family will be living a disadvantaged, MCFD-created nightmare of disability and the lost hopes of what might have been for their child. Settle the civil suit quickly, with justice and give this family the dignity that the state stole from them when they removed their whole and healthy child and returned him more damaged than anyone could have ever imagined.

Everyone within MCFD who touched this file and created this cluster #@^! should have been fired. There can no longer be the same kind of tolerance and protection of MCFD employees from the irresponsibility of their actions towards children and families when acting with such power as to destroy people's lives. This must be stopped. This includes everyone up the food chain all the way to top management in the region. In the private sector, when people screw up they are fired, or have the grace and decency to resign and walk away with their tail between their legs. Not so in the BC government, people who are completely undeserving walk away from the dire and tragic outcomes of their decisions safe in the knowledge they will be protected and that has to change.


Housing, Help and Hope: A Better Path for Struggling Families.

Representative for Children and Youth

A struggling young family needed short-term housing assistance so their baby could be safe, but instead the child was taken into government care. A Representative for Children and Youth investigation into a First Nations baby’s critical injury finds that many of the systemic factors that played a major role in the infant’s removal from his parents still exist today.

To view the report, click here.
To view the news release, click here.


BC's children's rep says government failed baby by refusing help to parents



VANCOUVER, B.C. - British Columbia's child welfare system badly failed a baby boy who was wrongfully taken from his parents and placed in foster care where he suffered injuries that almost killed him, the province's children's representative says.

"For a time during my investigation period we didn't think this child would survive," she said.

Turpel-Lafond's concerns are highlighted in the report "Housing, Help and Hope: A Better Path for Struggling Families," which she submitted to the government on Tuesday.

"One day, the woman's walking with the infant in a stroller down this reserve and the RCMP and a social worker come along and say, 'We're taking your child.' How would any parent in British Columbia feel about that? I would say devastated."

Turpel-Lafond said the mom was told to wait three weeks before she could access income assistance but emergency funds should have been provided instead of placing the child in care.

Too often, she said social workers default to removing the children from their parents.

"The parents posed no threat to the child and they could not, because of poverty, access housing," Turpel-Lafond said.

"Obviously it was in the child's best interest to be with the mom, who is a loving and committed mom but also is someone who has such challenges to cope with because of her poverty and there was no one there to help."

British Columbia has the highest child poverty rate in Canada for the sixth year in a row, Turpel-Lafond said, adding that in the past few years, there's been a 72-per-cent increase in the number of two-parent families seeking assistance.


Social workers erred in removing child from poor parents: report

Comment from
Shiney wrote:Posted 2009/07/30 at 6:59 PM ET

To Social worker. I have removed hundreds of children, so I know your moccasins. I have trained a number of social workers in child protection, and I can tell you that today's training and supervision is pathetic,in spite of there being many more staff than in my day. One thing that has not changed is the incompetent senior management.Do not let them near your cases if you can help it.
Some guidelines. Never be afraid to use your authority, because you cannot protect children without it. Be very much afraid ABUSING your authority. You have great power to destroy. Always be prepared to review your decisions when new information comes to light. Admit your mistakes and correct them immediately.Finally we never removed children because of lack of shelter. We paid for motels instead. Simple aint it

B.C. Children's Ministry report reveals 'chaos,' NDP says

Monday, July 27, 2009

Neglecting the Neglected:BC Liberals Policies Hurt BC's Kids

No surprise to us how dramatically rates and incidences of neglect of BC's children have risen. In BC we have a government that has no use for, nor interest in the well being of it's children. When you structurally disadvantage and create deep poverty for families, children suffer. BC's poor kids are simply collateral damage to the BC government. They don't vote, they have little hope of rising above the worst start to their young lives, why care? They can't do any harm to the Powers that Be. They just simply don't matter, or rate to those who've helped create miserable, intolerably cruel lives for over a hundred thousand of BC's children for six years in a row. What kind of a soul does it take to create and allow this deep poverty and negligence to continue, year, after hungry and desperate year, while rewarding senior bureaucrats with bonuses and taking $2000 living allowances each month, on top of salaries not earned?

Comments to Neglecting neglect?
Public Eye Online.

In February, the ministry of children and family development predicted the rate of recurrence of child neglect and/or abuse would actually increase by 0.9 percentage points to 21 percent in fiscal 2008/09. In fact, that rate was 21.4 percent in the twelve month period leading up to December 2008. So what is Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak going to do to address that problem?

Continue reading "Neglecting neglect?"
Posted by Sean Holman at 06:09 AM
Permanent link | Comments: (3)

BC Liberals Suck:

Mary's comments underscore her profound incompetence in "leading" MCFD. Like many in the upper reaches of the monolith, she quite simply has no idea what the mandate of this Ministry is really about, she has no idea why so many kids are being neglected, abused and dying and no idea how to stop all of this from happening. Also no idea that it is her own government that has caused these circumstances.

I assure anyone reading this, changing practice on the frontlines is NOT what is needed. There has been enough change and chaos created by the incompetency of the likes of Du Toit and the other yes people in Victoria. Du Toit was handpicked by Campbell to destroy MCFD, to tear it apart, limb by bloody limb and privatize the whole ugly mess. That is precisely why so many of BC's children are being harmed - they are collateral damage of the BC Liberal government and they clearly DO NOT MATTER.

Public policies that perpetuate deep poverty for the most vulnerable children and families is systemic, governmental neglect. It isn't "practice frameworks," it isn't changing practice on the lines. It is governmental and systemic negligence and the heartlessness of a neoConservative government that explains why a generation of BC's children have been raised in deep poverty & neglect. For that, Gordon Campbell and his incompetent and heartless wonks are responsible.

Mary Polak is unqualified, incapable and will in fact perhaps cause far more harm as a legacy than she is even capable of understanding, same with Du Toit and the rest of the former Ministers who nod their heads and ask high to jump, because fundamentally, none of them actually know what child welfare is about at a very core level.

Here's a dare - if Mary wants to actually learn something, she will climb out of her ivory tower and spend one month working on the frontlines, shadowing people who actually know how to do an honest days work (not just play politics). One week in urban, suburban, rural and Aboriginal offices. She might actually understand things in a small way if she did that. I'm betting Mary doesn't have what it takes to do this and see the reality, just like Du Toit, the plague of BC's kids.

The solution to improving the lot and lives of BC's children is for DM Du Toit to be removed from her position, to leave BC for good, let her be someone else's problem. In the private sector, when people fail in their jobs and fail to produce improvements they are fired. As long as MCFD & Mary Polak allow Du Toit to collect her $2000 per month living allowance on the backs of poor children, these people's opportunistic and parasitic ways will take money out of the mouth's of BC's children. THAT is neglect.


Comments to The measure of a ministry
Public Eye Online. July 27 2009.

In December 2008, the ministry of children and development released a report monitoring the progress of children in care within its north region. This, as part of its commitment to implement Ted Hughes's recommendation that the ministry "should establish a comprehensive set of measures to determine the real and long-term impacts of its programs and services on children, youth and their families." But when is the ministry going to release similar reports for other regions?

"We don't have specific dates on when the ones for the other regions will be released or will be prepared. We're continuing to work to see what kind of information we can provide that's better. Because, part of it, is learning," responded Minister Polak in an interview on Public Eye Radio.

"When we did the north report, part of what we looked at is what kind of new measures can we include. Because our service plan is fairly limited. So we want to look at including things like progress in schools, timeframes involved in establishing plans of care - the kinds of things we began to do with the northern report - and probably expand those. So it's difficult to give a hard date on it. Because we want those reports to be good. And that means it's difficult to know how much information we're going to be able to get together in a period of time."

BC Liberals Suck:

Mary, can you explain to the good people of BC why it's so hard to produce reports about things that are relatively easy to track and obtain when you have one of the most overstaffed departments in MCFD is the so-called "Quality Assurance" branch?

Many of us are wondering what those dozens of people actually do and why so many FTE's that could be used on the frontlines are sucking up management salaries doing so little in Victoria.

So, Mary explain IF MCFD is even bothering to track these recommended benchmarks at all, where each region is in it's reviews and when the reports can be expected? Because you know, it's interesting that the Representative's office, which is outside of direct government has managed to produce some very valuable reports on some of these same benchmarks with far fewer staff.

Mary, we hope, like your predecessors, you come to enjoy explaining away the incompetency of your DM, you will have to get really good at it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Who Needs Nurses, Care Aides, or Health Care Workers Anyways?

Another announcement of the masterful administration of Gordon Campbell and the funky bunch in Victoria - all sorts of cuts to funding and administrative efforts aimed to help people get educated and work in frontline service positions in growth fields - residential care aides, health care work, nursing etc. Cuts to funds to support people with disabilities in accessing education, because, you know, they just have it too damn easy as it is, why have our government help them break down the brick walls to employment and education.

I guess it's short-term pain... oh, wait, it will be long-term pain too. Who the hell do these idiots think will be caring for the "grey tsunami" of aging Boomers and other generations that are being unleashed upon us all in the near and far future? Guess we all better start gearing up to become our parents and grandparents nurses and care aides, because there is already going to be a shortage of people lining up to clean up shit, puke and the indignity of age and illness. Wonder why operating rooms can't work to full capacity, they can't find enough nurses, but apparently we don't need to support educating and training more of them.

I'm needing to ask at this point, is anyone actually driving this ship? Have they been sampling our World Cup Weed, or taking a little dram at the wheel? Oops, I guess the latter was true, at least some time back. But he's not really behind this wheel, it's the shadows behind him we need to be worried about.

This is going to be a excruciatingly long and agonizing race to the Bottom and I'm not looking forward to it one damn bit.

Nursing, Health Care Students Forced to Pay Up After Province Slashes Budget
Darah Hansen, Vancouver Sun. July 22, 2009.


Nursing, health care and home-support-worker programs are among those affected by the cuts, which were approved in June.

Students who can’t afford to repay their student debt, or who are unable to work because of a permanent disability, will no longer be eligible to have their loans forgiven.

Margaret Dhillon of the BC Nurses Union called funding cuts to the Nurses Education Bursary “shortsighted and “counter-intuitive.”

“I don’t know why they would even consider cutting that in a profession that is in such an acute shortage,” Dhillon said.

As well, the province will end a pilot program, worth $4.7 million, that gave loan-reduction assistance to students filling high-demand occupations, including residential care aides and home support workers.

Disabled students were also hit. Those who were previously eligible for loan forgiveness because of a permanent disability will now be required to apply for extended interest relief on their debt. The disabled benefits program, which aided about 350 students per year in B.C., was scheduled to end July 31, and will not be renewed.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Is that the Sound of Shredders I Hear in Victoria?

If only it were going to be so easy. I'm sure the Campbell cabal is getting a touch nervous, but I wouldn't think this would be a slam dunk yet. I'm sure the rocket scientists of the back room have been scuttling around figuring out what they can do to head this off. This case is just one step from a being declared a mistrial with the masterful "fumbling" and delays of the government lawyers who've earned their massive salaries in how they've represented their clients. Too bad no-one is really representing the interests of the people of BC.

It's more than a bit worrisome this latest business has been referred to the RCMP for an "initial investigation" prior to a Special Investigator being assigned. I don't think it's a no-brainer to say the RCMP is in a massive conflict of interest, is in over their heads almost everywhere now and doesn't actually have any credibility left where this government is concerned, or doing the right thing. I respect and feel for those at the lower levels, they've got a helluva job dealing with those knobs up the food chain. Wonder if DeBruyckere will get assigned to this "pre-investigation." People keep forgetting about this:

Kevin DeBRUYCKERE. RCMP. One of the lead RCMP investigators in Project Everywhichway, amazingly Inspector DeBruyckere is also by coincidence the brother-in-law of B.C. Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert.

DeBruyckere disclosed that information to his superiors in March 2004, but defence lawyers have strongly argued that his relationship is a conflict of interest that should have had him removed from the case, but have not at any point alleged any impropriety on the part of either DeBruyckere or Reichert.

(From Bill Tieleman's A-Z.)

Judge's Ruling Put Campbell's Future in Question

B.C. Premier ordered to turn over e-mails; decision could be pivotal not only in corruption case, but in the future of B.C.'s government

Gary Mason, Globe & Mail.

As court rulings go, this one may be without precedent in Canada: an order for a sitting Premier and select members of his staff and cabinet to turn their e-mails over to a court.

It's not a stretch to say Monday's ruling by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the Supreme Court of British Columbia could determine the future not only of a potentially explosive political corruption trial under way in the province, but the government of Premier Gordon Campbell as well.

“I would say this is virtually unprecedented,” lawyer Michael Bolton said about the ruling, which grants the defence access to Mr. Campbell's e-mail correspondence from 2002 to 2004.

“I think what this means is that nobody in B.C. is above the law,” Mr. Krog told reporters. “Including Mr. Campbell himself.”

Now, the big question is: Do the e-mails even exist?

"... e-mails created prior to 2004 were ordered destroyed as recently as May – two years after they were first requested by the defence in this case and in contravention of a government policy that prohibits the disposal of electronic records when they are the subject of a legal proceeding. The same affidavit said some e-mails from 2001 to 2004 were later found and have been kept.

... if that e-mail evidence has been destroyed either through recklessness, negligence or willful failure to preserve then it could be argued that the defence can't fairly defend its clients.

And the case would likely be thrown out.


We should all keep in mind how cozy the relationship is between the BC Liberal government and one of their favourite corporations - EDS Advanced Solutions, who they've just happened to privatize a great deal of government infrastructure too, such as the Provincial Revenue. This is who the BC government is alleged to have outsourced the government documents to be shredded. Do they still have them and where are they? I think an immediate seizure is in order before any more documents go missing. But, here's the question, is the server (s) and data in Canada, or the United States? Who does it belong to now?

Might be worth a read of these old stories and ask ourselves what else have the BC Liberals privatized right out from under our noses and where are the records for all of that?

Campbell's Plan to Privatize Your Privacy: Infrastructure Outsourcing for BC - Part 1

The word is out that in January 2009, Campbell & his Liberal puppets are set to privatize the rest of BC citizen's personal, private and confidential information by signing a multi-million dollar, multi-year contract with EDS Advanced Solutions. Hewlett Packard (HP)-Electronic Data Systems (EDS) is a global, transnational information technology corporation based in Texas.

This privatization will see the operation and maintenance of the BC government mainframe computer servers under the management of HP-EDS. Before you're tempted to give a big yawn and a "who cares" you should know that this means that any personal and private information that is held by the BC government about you and anyone else you know, all government documents, health care numbers and information, social insurance numbers, e-mails and communications with government is in the hands of a private corporation, who will do with it what they want and you will never know.


Privatizing Your Privacy: EDS' Trail of Slime - Part 2

The Province recently signed an agreement [Ed. PRIVATIZED] with EDS Advanced Solutions to improve customer service and consolidate revenue management across government, including account management, billing, payment and remittance processing, and non-tax collections for the Province.

The Billing and Receivables Branch and the Collection and Loan Management
Branch of the Ministry of Provincial Revenue formerly provided these functions.

Beginning Dec. 6, 2004, EDS Advanced Solutions is authorized to operate under the brand "Revenue Services of British Columbia" to identify itself when performing revenue services on behalf of the Province of British Columbia.

Read more about EDS and their handling of contracts and "loss" of millions of citizens private and personal information in the UK here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Much More than E-mails Have Been Destroyed: Many have Lost Faith in Our Own Government

I find it almost quaint reading people's comments sometimes, as the veil is being lifted for them as to the inner workings of the most corrupt government in BC's history. I used to be naive like that too. I never knew that people destroyed government documents, that they would magically "disappear," that someone smart always keeps backups in a safe place. I never knew that people would order underlings to do things that weren't right, that in fact might harm people and the public interest. Pandora's box opened and many of us have seen the secrets and the Evils of the BC Liberal world, tried to do something about them, to bring them alive for those still innocent and believing that governments are there to serve their interests.

Since most of us are really decent people at heart, those kind of happenings and dealings come as a profound moral shock to one's ethical system. To those it doesn't in government, why they make prime candidates for promotion of course.

The context of government right now is quite fascinating in that "car crash on the highway" kind of thing. The whole shebang is being imploded, eroded and torn apart, ever so slowly. It starts with looking for "efficiencies," vacancies and what can be phased out and privatized. Every Ministry and governmental agency under orders to cut, slash, layoff who they can. Civil servants better get ready to start bringing in their own supplies for work.

Baby birds (city and municipalities) waiting for September's new budget to see what senior levels of government will be feeding their malnourished cities to deal with the increasing poverty, homelessness, public disorder and unemployment rates that are being created by those same senior levels.

Critical mass has yet to be reached, but it's coming and inevitable. You just can't have that many amoral, incompetent and stupid people running this monolithic and unsustainable ship without hitting an Iceberg. Batten down the hatches folks, grab your life preserver, we're in for the bumpiest of rides.

Comments to

Destroying E-Mails Part of a Plan?

Harvey Oberfeld. Keeping it Real. July 17th, 2009

BC Liberals Suck . July 18, 2009

Being one of those bloggers “real journalists” often like to dis and bash, I’ve developed a thick skin about it all. I know of where the ire comes - corporate media flunkies and hacks write and comment on and influence public opinion on what their corporate masters want.

There is no diversity (is MSM unaware of people of colour?), little effort to really get into the nitty gritty of the issues, to serve in the tradition of what someone like Harvey represents, the better days of journalism.

I agree there is a lot of crap out there on the Net too, I’ve probably put some out myself, but my readership numbers tell me that people are hungry for other opinions and perspectives on the issues of concern to citizens in BC. That’s also a source of angst and consternation to the dying media empires of old. Newsflash - getting corporates hacks to blog too isn’t gonna save ya’, because they’re saying a lot of the same irrelevant, self-serving stuff they do in print.

As a “citizen journalist” I am my own editor. I write about what I want, when I want, how I want. My creativity, outrage and desire for social justice and human rights in BC can be channeled into blogging.

I’m quite sure the BC government would love to sue me. If they do, it will be one of biggest mistakes of their collective lives. Because I am one of those people who knows where many skeletons and bodies lie.

I blog because I believe in BC, what it used to stand for and what it SHOULD stand for. This administration is so far beyond corruption most of us cannot conceive of what they are all about. But we are living it and I believe that evil is being done to us and our future generations and people need to know about it. Because in many ways, with shining exceptions, we can no longer count on the mainstream media to do it’s job - to tell the truth, to inform us, to help hold those who govern us responsible and accountable for their service to us - the people of BC.

BTW, Harvey, you must know this by now, those who go out on the limb, poke the beast in the eye and tell the truth are rarely rewarded in the ways they deserve to be. There are costs, but also other rewards for being a truthteller.

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Killing the Messengers: NO Free Speech in BC Liberaland

What is in a Name? Totally unsurprising that the BC Liberal minions couldn't take the Straight Talk emanating from the trenches, people who actually work for a living, other than communications hacks who suck up valuable tax dollars spinning crap and lies. Good job if you can get it, I guess. Wonder if these hacks even get the irony of how shameful it is to intimidate and threaten civil servants into silence when at least some of them were trained in media & communications. Disgusting.

I have to say though, if people actually thought they were posting anonymously
on the Intranet, I have some swamp for sale in Spuzzum. Of course they can check people's IDIR's and they would, because they are backstabbing, vicious people and they like to crush the "negative" nellies. You know, the ones who know what the hell is going on and that IT's wrong, amoral and unethical. If you crush the naysayers/truthtellers then you can pretend people aren't getting hurt, dying and the government is failing an ever larger and growing number of desperate and angry citizens. See, it's easy, just take the Shut Up pill, move along and everything will be just fine.

Here are some places where people can speak freely and anonymously:

BC Liberals Suck comments on stories

Public servants can comment away to their hearts content on Darryl Walker's blog
(President of BCGEU).

Some of the other blogs on the right-hand side, where people can write comments.

Or how about writing comment on Rate My Employer, there is lots of room to post anonymous comments at BC government and to make thing very helpful people can add their employer/Ministry/government organization and start new threads where their employer won't be threatening and intimidating them and they can give, honest, open and true feedback about being employed in the ill-fated BC public service. Comment away everyone.

July 16, 2009

Sean Holman, Public Eye Online.

Provincial civil servants will no longer be able to post anonymously on their public service intranet's comments board - even though they expressly told the government they wanted to keep that option. In an email sent to bureaucrats on Wednesday and obtained by Public Eye, the government explained eliminating anonymous comments "should result in fewer negative comments," ensuring the forum is "a positive tool for sharing ideas, observations and constructive dialogue."

According to the email, the message board was also becoming "dominated" by a "small number of anonymous posters" - creating "the perception among readers of a vigorous debate, while in fact in many cases it is actually a discussion among a smallish group of individuals."

As a result, the government has eliminated that option - even though an April survey found only a "minority of respondents said names should be required" on the comment board.

Not that it really matters anyway. Because the government has always been able to check the identity of comment writers "whether you post anonymously or not, so we know who you are when you're making comments that might be deemed inappropriate."

Which kind of sounds like a threat, doesn't it? The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned email.


Briefing Note

What's in a Name: Straight Talk on Life in the Public Service

We've made a change to the comments board that will likely be seen as a big change to many of the users of that forum: the option to post anonymously has been removed and you will now be required to post your name if you wish to post a comment. Instead of just flicking that switch and waiting for the comments - and complaints, no doubt - to flood in, we thought we'd explain why.

Let's acknowledge something to start. In April we posted a poll asking if employees who post comments should post their names, and a minority of respondents said names should be required. We have chosen to go ahead with this change anyway, but only after careful consideration about the implications.

There are three main reasons for this change:

1. Accountability: Requiring names to be posted upholds this corporate value. Regardless of whether you're a fan of this change, you can't argue with that.

[Ed. When this BC Liberal government decides to be accountable for any decisions it makes that harm the public and there are so many to choose from (hey, how about destroying government e-mails in the Basi-Virk case, dead children, seniors not getting the help they need), then the government can talk about accountability].

2. Negativity: Eliminating the option for anonymity should result in fewer negative comments. We're all adults and professionals but, frankly, not everyone behaves that way when posting anonymous comments. There have been several observations lately about the negativity in comments, and we agree with those who feel it's all become too much.

We want this forum to be a positive tool for sharing ideas, observations and constructive dialogue. As noted in the guidelines, diversity of opinion is welcome. Hopefully that dialogue will happen in a more respectful manner if our names are attached to our comments.

[Ed. Why is it that real life observation, critical analysis and honest, real comments from the trenches viewed with such disdain? Some of the adults and professionals posting have an ethical obligation to bring the truth to the surface when the government fails. Why is someone being immature and patronized by someone who is a nothing more than a corporate hack who probably wouldn't know how to do an honest day's work if their life depended on it? Ooooops, was that negative? ]

3. Participation: We want to address the participation - or perceived participation - in the forum. Since November 2008, when we moved to a threaded format for comments, the monthly number of posts has increased more than tenfold. The number of employees posting has roughly tripled. If you do the math on that, you'll realize the majority of comments are coming from a smaller group of people than the average reader (who can't see IDIRs like we can) would realize.

[Ed. Blah, blah, blah. We have known who you are all the time. We have noted your IDIR's, we have you on our cull list now. We will bully and harass you and come after you until you leave. Now we want you to know we know who you are, so it won't come as a surprise when we fire your stupid ass for posting comments we don't like, bursting our spin bubbles and corpo-speak propaganda. Thank you for leaving the BC Public Service now while you are somewhat intact, we don't care how you leave, just do it now if you are a complainer.

Sponsored by the S.S.: Proudly Spying on our Employees since we joined Confederation].

The problem with the board being dominated by such a small number of anonymous posters is that it creates the perception among readers of a vigorous debate, while in fact in many cases it is actually a discussion among a smallish group of individuals.

And one more thing on the subject of our being able to see IDIRs... If you're worried about possible repercussions of being identified as a result of this change, we'd like to offer this friendly reminder that:

* In order to use the comment board you must be logged into the government network. Your IDIR information is connected to everything you do on the network, including commenting on @Work.

* When you post a comment, you'll notice your IDIR information is visible. We can already see your IDIR when you post whether you post anonymously or not, so we know who you are when you're making comments that might be deemed inappropriate.

The three reasons listed above are all things we hope to address by requiring the use of names but, aside from open, transparent and hopefully more positive discussions on the board, there are other benefits to this. As some have pointed out one of the advantages of this forum is that it provides a way to network with people from across the public service, so it will be nice to know who you're talking to.

So that's what we've done and why. As noted above, we've considered this carefully. We haven't made this decision in isolation either. Your comments back it up because, interestingly, while those who voted on the poll were in favour of anonymity (or at least of having a choice), many recent comments reinforce the reasons for requiring that names be used.

We encourage you to continue using this forum to share your opinions, ideas and observations about working in the BC Public Service. We look forward to continued dialogue... with your names attached.

(The Briefing Note is an editorial rant — and sometimes a rave — about life in the public service. Got an idea for a topic? Use our feedback loop.)

Published July 14, 2009

Posted by Sean Holman at 09:21 AM
Permanent link

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Nations Smell a Rat: Recognition and Reconciliation Act Takes a Hit

Natives reject planned bill

By Judith Lavoie,

Times Colonist

July 12, 2009

Proposed legislation that the provincial government hopes will cement a new relationship with First Nations is being slammed by band members and elders around the province.

Forums organized by the First Nations Leadership Council on the proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act are being held in aboriginal communities around B.C.

Although council members helped government draft the five-page discussion paper on the proposed new law recognizing aboriginal title, speakers at the dozen meetings held so far have made it clear some of the basic principles are unacceptable, said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs president.

A major concern is the plan to reorganize B.C.'s 203 bands into 30 regional indigenous nations, based on historical lines, something government believes is necessary if treaties are to be achieved.

"People don't think the province has any place in legislating how indigenous nations should be constituted," Phillip said. [Ed. - Damn straight, they don't.]

Speakers are also concerned that the form of aboriginal title offered in the yet-to-be-seen act will be weaker than the recognition of rights and title upheld by Canadian courts.

The concepts were originally supported by the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit and B.C. Assembly of First Nations, and the backlash has come as a shock, Phillip said.

Forums will continue through the summer and a summary report is expected from a province-wide chiefs meeting at the end of August.

Aboriginal Relations Minister George Abbott said government will wait until First Nations have completed their consultations before taking the next step.

"If there are serious issues from First Nations perspective with reconstitution, then I am certainly open to thoughts, ideas and suggestions around what alternative mechanisms we might look at," he said.

Abbott said a consultative process could include all British Columbians. He said the bill remains "a hugely important part of government's agenda."

Premier Gordon Campbell initially announced the new law would be introduced before the election, but backed down after an outcry from the business sector, which was worried about the implications of granting aboriginal title and shared decision making.

NDP aboriginal relations critic Bob Simpson speculated government could be getting cold feet. "The major business organizations that reacted so vehemently have gone awfully quiet. There have got to be some signals from government that this is not as pending as previously thought," he said.

Simpson said First Nations will be "livid" if Campbell walks away from the legislation, however.

"It would create a flashpoint situation in B.C."

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Act now?

Yesterday, we reported Premier Gordon Campbell didn't specifically mention the government's proposed Recognition and Reconciliation Act in recent statements commemorating the National Day of Reconciliation and National Aboriginal Day. Instead, at one point, he simply stated government "must continue building...

Posted in Public Eye Online on July 8, 2009 03:24 PM

Conceptual work

The First Nations Leadership Council is preparing a concept paper or series of papers detailing the land title recognition options for indigenous peoples in British Columbia, Public Eye has exclusively learned. In an interview, First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed...

Posted in Public Eye Online on July 7, 2009 02:43 PM


A b o r i g i n a l Y o u t h
Lots of STUFF

First Nations Summit

Union of BC Indian Chiefs

BC Assembly of First Nations

Turtle Island Native Network News

Redwire Native Youth Media Society


Some portions of reconciliation act discussion paper rejected, says chiefs

Paul Willcocks, Paying Attention.

The "seismic change" for relations between First Nations and the province, which I wrote about here seems to be hitting some bumps in consultations with First Nations. It's too early for consultations with non-native British Columbians, says aboriginal affairs minister George Abbott.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Deeper Poverty Ahead: Tumbling into the Abyss

Poverty is the worst form of violence.

- Mahatma Ghandi.

NDP says Govt. welfare numbers way off
Dan Burritt | Email news tips to Dan
CKNW. 7/8/2009

The NDP says the Cambpell government has seriously underestimated the demand for welfare.

Housing critic Shane Simpson claims leaked documents show the government's welfare caseload for next year is almost 150 thousand people, not 115 thousand as projected. [We'll be lucky if it's that low with all that is coming. Wonder when former BC government employees will start having to go on the rolls too?]

Simpson says at a time when thousands and thousands more people are going onto assistance because of our economic situation, the government also has frozen its support, as of the beginning of June, for adult basic education, for english as a second language, for vocational assessments.

Simpson says those extra caseloads will add about 100 million dollars to the budget.
Yes, we wouldn't want more people to get an education, speak English, or find out what kind of employment they might be suited for. The labour market can't absorb the numbers of people rapidly becoming unemployed now.

And, as we see below, the BC government is already trying to project and quantify the numbers of people, "10,000" who will not be helped at all. The scariest thing is that they aren't even in the ballpark.

Someday, when we look back we will realize we have been plagued by the worst government in BC and quite possibly, Canadian history.

Leaked Document Shows BC Welfare Caseload Severely Underestimated, Cuts Coming
Vancouver Sun, July 8, 2009.

The provincial government's budget for income assistance could fall more than $100 million short as the number of recipients is predicted to reach 147,000 next year, according to New Democrat sources.

The information comes from a leaked e-mail from Heather Davidson, assistant deputy minister of the Regional Services Division of the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.

The document states the government expects the number of people receiving income assistance to number 27,000 by next June, 28 per cent higher than the rate budgeted for by the Campbell government.

“Before the election, Gordon Campbell promised to hold the line on a $495 million deficit without cutting services, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that’s not going to be the case," New Democrat housing and social development critic Shane Simpson said in a news release.

"Now we’ve learned that the government’s projections for income assistance are almost 30 per cent short, and there will be deep service cuts to make up for the shortfall.”

The document, released by the NDP today, shows the welfare caseload is exploding dramatically — up from a projected 115,000 to 147,000.

The number of people left without help will rise from 2000 to 10,000, it states.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Timber: When an Industry Falls in the Forest who Will Hear It?

Aaaaah, how proud those neoLiberal voters around BC must be, as their beloved party prepares to chop down what's left of the forestry sector and adding in Environment too. Ever been in a town that's lost it's MoF offices and sector jobs? I have and it ain't pretty, lots and lots of empty houses, barren businesses and a desolation that comes from communities that worry... A LOT about their futures. Looks like more pain, economic distress and hardship for more citizens, stellar move on the part of our far-thinking government. It's almost like a contest... how many BC citizens can be plunged into poverty this year by their own government. What is the prize though? I can't get that part.

Forest ministry officials preparing to implement deep cuts
BCGEU. Jul 7 '09.

At a recent labour-management meeting, Ministry of Forestry officials outlined plans to implement a 12 per cent budget cut in 2009/10, including the elimination of 230 full time positions.

At the June 24 meeting, the Ministry told the union they are unsure of exactly what cards they will be dealt by the new Liberal budget, due Sept. 1. But they are preparing to implement a cut of $96 million by March 31, 2010.

The cuts would come from a combination of the 230 job cuts, reduced spending, rejigging functions such as compliance & enforcement to work ‘smarter' and cheaper, and collaborating with other ministries on spending items such as road engineering.

Jobs targeted as environment ministry struggles with budget pressures
BCGEU. Jul 7 '09.

Ministry of Environment officials are working on plans for job cuts of 30 to 40 full time positions for this year.

Among the ministry's important programs and services, Parks and Environmental Stewardship appear to face the most pressure. (Park Rangers, bah, who needs them?).


Concerns About Big Job Losses in the Forests Ministry

Lara Fominoff Email news tips to Lara

Provincial NDP Leader Carole James is critical of possible job cuts coming in B.C.'s Forests and Environment Ministries.

She says at a time the Forest Industry is in crisis, the Government's reponse should not be to cut the budget by 12 per cent, and kill more than 200 jobs."It's going in the wrong direction. And it's one more example where the Government wasn't up front with British Columbians. I certainly didn't hear the Premier when he travelled through Kamloops tell the people of Kamloops that he's going to cut the Ministry of Forests Budget by 12 percent"

James says she fears it's another sign the coming deficit will be far worse than feared.

The B.C Government and Service Employees Union has posted the planned cuts online.

But Forests Minister Pat Bell says, not quite so fast.

He maintains it's premature to say so many people will be losing their jobs.

But he can't rule out job losses either. "Well, across government we're considering all of our options. There's no question we're in very challenging economic times. The public is well aware of the challenges that are being faced, And they're looking to Government to makes sure that we provide the best possible services at the lowest possible cost, so we're working though the process making sure that each and every service that we provide is the right one for the public and that we do our best to protect all of the jobs of the public service."

Bell says everyone will know more about what's going to happen when the Provincial Budget comes out on September First.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Repellent Liberal Rats: How People are Shoved off the Cliff into Deep Poverty

As you can imagine, I've read a lot of bad $%!^ these ratbastards, the BC Liberals, have done over the years, but this loan sharking business they've got going by drastically and visciously taking people's EI money away thus pushing them over the edge into deep poverty with it's attendant spiral into inhumanity and indignity is UNfuckingBELIEVABLE! Al Capone would mightily approve.

There's also something really smelly going on with the EI applications for second stage benefits and training programs. Advocates are looking askance at how many people are being turned down and these people are plunging downwards as well, with no benefits, no job and disabilities.

  • What good are governments that hasten their own citizens into deep, chronic and harmful poverty?
  • Why are our governments failing us in this way?
  • Who gains from this? None of us do.
  • Why aren't we doing anything to stop this?
  • We should be asking ourselves most of all why our governments are encouraging and creating this kind of mass de-socialization and dislocation on such a large scale?

'Perverse' Rules Glitch Impoverishes EI Recipients

Welcome to Chiu Yin Wong's nightmare, increasingly common.

Andrew MacLeod. Published: July 2, 2009.

The 46-year-old man, who MacKenzie said requested that his name not be used in print, worked as a construction labourer for $10 an hour until January 13, according to a submission filed as part of the hearing. When the job ended he applied for EI, as well as emergency welfare from the province to get him through until the EI cheque came.

The province gave him $595 on January 21, with the agreement he would pay it back through his EI payments.

He was eligible for $193 a week in EI, but for each of the first three weeks of February he received just $45 after the province was repaid.

By the middle of February he needed help from the welfare ministry again. They gave him another $595, but started taking back even more money.

"It just created this escalating cycle," said MacKenzie.

In February he received a total of $275 from EI, with the province taking $497. In March he got $204, while the province's share was $761. For some weeks he received not a penny from his EI cheques, which instead went straight to the province.

Here's why: The ministry counts the money it was clawing back as income. In March, for example, the man officially had income of $965 from EI, despite the fact he barely saw $200 of it. That income made him ineligible for welfare.

"The Panel acknowledges that the very method by which the Ministry recovers money owing in this case, is causing the need for further income assistance," the three-member panel found. "The Appellant now receives too much income from Employment Insurance to qualify for Income Assistance, but the quantum of net income, after deductions, is impossible to live on."

They found, "The outcome is perverse, and causes significant hardship to the Appellant, but the legislation is clear." (B.C. Employment and Assistance Appeal Tribunal).

"The Ministry's practices show complete disregard for the vulnerable position people are already in when they apply to access welfare while awaiting EI," she said in her initial e-mail to the Tyee. "The Ministry is well aware of the hardship caused by these recovery practices, but nothing is being done, and people are being abandoned by the Ministry." (Kirsty MacKenzie, Downtown Eastside Residents' Association).


All I know is this is what we have to do, before it's too late.

Friday, July 03, 2009

More Untendered MCFD Contracts: It's Who You Know that Puts Money in Your Pocket

Aha, so that's where the money has been going? Mr. Parfitt is a well known and respected "expert" in child rights in Canada and is well connected internationally in the human rights field, however I don't care how gold plated he is, he isn't worth what he was paid. But this story is the tip of the iceberg. MCFD Deputy Minister Lesley Du Toit has shoveled tons of taxpayer money into the hungry maws of chums she's met since being in Canada, working on various committees.

Hell, she's hired some of them from other provinces into MCFD, people who haven't got the first clue about BC's child welfare system, just like her, replacing people who've actually worked in & up through the system. Classic organizational dynamics, get rid of people who are a threat, people who know too much (and more than the new "leader") and surround yourself with people who will be no threat and will be loyal because they know who butters their bread.

Many also don't know it, but this DM has created a massively overstaffed (and fundamentally useless) "advocacy" and child rights wing of her Ministry. Great idea, too bad the staff could be better utilized on the frontlines where employes can't even hope to meet practice standards and policies due to understaffing, the monster attrition rate and can only dream of working in a Ministry that gave a real crap about Children and Families rights. Read Hands Tied to see first hand why people are leaving and the system this DM has created since 2006.

Remember, we're talking about a DM who has virtually disregarded the implementation of the recommendations of the Hughes Child & Youth Review. The dirty little elephant in the room no-one will bring up is that Du Toit wouldn't know how to implement a damn thing if her life depended on it. She's great at producing pages of flowery & utterly useless mutterings that no-one reads and terrible at doing anything of real world value to anyone, let alone the kids.

Here's a question for Du Toit - how many children and youth in BC have died since 2006 when she became DM? How many have been fully reviewed by her Ministry? What lessons have been learned from those tragedies? What improvements has she, as DM responsible for living and dead children, made for the child welfare system? Like many observe, across the province and this system things just keep getting worse under this DM's "leadership" and "vision."

And let's not forget, while BC leads in child poverty for 6 years in a row, Du Toit is the ONLY Deputy Minister in the entire BC government who has secured for herself a $2000 a MONTH "living allowance" for the pain and hardship of living in Victoria. Take that one to the bank, folks. Along with being the most horrifically overpaid, incompetent and underwhelming (on a gigantic scale) DM ever to exist in BC, she's also earning a whopping $24,000 a year for just living. Boy, that could feed and clothe quite a few BC kids who go without. Also, what bonuses, er "incentives" has she earned, on top of the salary she's collected? Now that is Child Rights, eh? In other words, show us what value the people of BC have received for your service? No flowery BS, real world value and service? Real improvements?

This contract is also another example of the piss poor "management" of this government. They pay outsiders, who most often tend to be friends, colleagues & insiders, massive pots of money to do things that any idiot in government could do. For Parfitt to justify being paid to locate a book is just gross and it really tarnishes his reputation. Good people have been Du Toited and jumped on a gravy train that should be feeding our kids.

While the "talent" in the BC government and MCFD is definitely dwindling, it's beyond the pale to suggest there isn't anyone around who could locate a damn book. Hell, one phone call, or e-mail to the government library and the answer would be provided for free. It's time for this Ministry to open the books up and lets see what we're getting for the massive amounts of money we're paying senior bureacrats and what value are we getting for service? Because there's a whole province full of taxpayers that aren't seeing a damn thing and a whole lot of hurting kids who aren't either.

One thing I know is that whoever created this ruse of an untendered contract and allowed Parfitt to be paid like this should be fired ASAP. At this time of economic and fiscal crisis a strong, clear message needs to be sent that this kind of unethical and manipulative behaviour won't be tolerated in the BC government and that those who insult taxpayers (and BC's kids) like this will not be tolerated, or employed anymore.

BC's child welfare system quite frankly will remain a morass, a provincial and national embarassment and a disgrace until people like these are gone. Our kids deserve so much better than these morally questionable creatures. We need people with knowledge, expertise and a commitment to BC's kids, not their gold plated careers. How many screw ups do BC's taxpayers have to put up with on this file before something definitively is done to improve the situation, because this stinks and the stench from Victoria & MCFD is getting worse & worse with no end in sight?

Over to you Minister Polak, what are you going to do to clean things up in your new Ministry, you know - the one you asked for?
Here's a hint, First order of business, get your DM to provide you a detailed accounting of every consultant and contractor, every secondee, every dime paid to them, every piece of work produced, as well as the job descriptions and work produced by every Assistant DM and senior bureacrat in MCFD. Once you've got that info, the path forward will be clear. BC is watching Minister Polak.


Special to The Globe and Mail

Ministry to examine rules for hiring consultants

Move follows inquiries about a child-rights adviser who was appointed without using competitive process

Sean Holman:

Victoria Last updated on Friday, Jul. 03, 2009 03:31AM EDT

The B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development is moving to tighten rules on how it hires consultants, following inquiries from The Globe and Mail about a child-rights adviser who was appointed without using competitive process.

In the late summer of 2006, the ministry hand-picked Brent Parfitt, a child-rights adviser known to its deputy minister, using a secondment agreement. Unlike most secondees drafted from their employers, the ministry arranged for Mr. Parfitt to bill like a contractor, paying him $275 an hour, a rate that over a full work year would have earned him more than the highest-paid bureaucrat in the public service. That unusual deal – which saw Mr. Parfitt seconded from his own one-person consulting company to work for the ministry – earned the former deputy ombudsman and senior government lawyer $176,170.67 from the late summer of 2006 through to April, 2008, for part-time work, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request.

By seconding Mr. Parfitt, the government didn't need to put that work out to tender, the standard process for contracts valued at $25,000 or more unless only one contractor is qualified for the job. NDP critic Maurine Karagianis has called that arrangement “completely outrageous,” adding, “This is not the way government is supposed to operate.”

But ministry communications director Kelly Gleeson said the government wasn't avoiding the procurement process.

Instead, Mr. Gleeson said Mr. Parfitt was seconded because he “directly reported to the DM [deputy minister]” so a contract “would not have been appropriate.”

The ministry has contended that the agreement “conformed to government's core policy.” But after The Globe and Mail's inquiries, the ministry is altering its policies so that any adviser hired in future for similar work will either be hired as an employee, or through a contract subject to the standard bidding process. That change would eliminate the possibility of being seconded, and then paid as a contractor, as was the case with Mr. Parfitt. The ministry also said there will be a clear separation in pay between legal and policy work, a distinction it did not make in Mr. Parfitt's agreement.

Unlike most secondees, Mr. Parfitt didn't receive a salary, instead submitting detailed billings to the deputy minister at $275 an hour – a rate he was given because he was classified as an “ad hoc legal counsel.” Mr. Parfitt, who was called to the bar in 1972, said he was hired as a consultant, not as a lawyer. The ministry said his expertise and legal background justified that classification and pay.

As for deputy minister Lesley du Toit's past association with Mr. Parfitt, Mr. Gleeson said the two served together on a ministry blue-ribbon panel set up in 2002. They were also associates with a Victoria-based non-profit organization. But Mr. Gleeson said the deputy minister hired Mr. Parfitt, who was then a member of the United Nations committee on the rights of the child, because of his credentials. For his part, Mr. Parfitt said any suggestion to the contrary is “crazy.”

“Forget the fact she knew me – just looking at my credentials and my [35-year] history with the ministry alone, I would think that I'd be the candidate someone would go to.”

So what did that rate – which Mr. Parfitt wasn't involved in setting – buy the government?

Mr. Parfitt said he helped establish and implement the ministry's new guiding principles, ensuring their consistency with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. He also facilitated the creation of a youth mentoring program for kids in care and was involved in setting up a youth advisory council.

According to his billings, most of that work involved writing briefing notes or interacting with ministry staff. Sometimes that work took hours. But sometimes government paid him for the five, 10 or 15 minutes it would take to call or e-mail one of those staffers – even if that was the only work he did that day.

Mr. Gleeson said all of those payments were “appropriate” – as was the fact he was paid for the 30 minutes he spent ordering 100 copies of a book about organizational change.

Mr. Parfitt said the ministry asked him to place that order after he gave a presentation on the book – spending two hours tracking down the publisher after civil servants were unable to locate copies.

“I didn't want to bill for my whole time,” he explained. “But it was a tremendous amount of time for a stupid little thing that no doubt someone could have tracked down as well.”

Special to The Globe and Mail


Give me shelter

Sean Holman, Public Eye Online

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.