Thursday, September 29, 2016

But it’s not just that Bill 41 is in response to that horrific situation of Paige Gauchier. It was also, I believe, drafted in the government response to the death of Carly Fraser, a young woman who died only 20 hours and a few minutes after aging out of care, with no investigation, with the rehabilitative help that was needed not there and with, eventually, a freedom-of-information request by her mother, Lisa Fraser, to find out what actually happened in her child’s life turned down by this government. Bill 41 is also in response to that young woman who aged out of care and died. I think, also, the context for Bill 41 relates to Alex Gervais. He was an aboriginal, a young Métis man, who ended up falling from the fourth-floor window of a hotel at age 19 and dying — dying while in care. He had been in a group home that was closed and was moved, contrary to government policy, to a hotel, where he lived for many months — many months. There was no transition plan in his young life either. He was 18, almost at the time of aging out of care, which Bill 41 addresses. I also believe that Bill 41 was a response by the government to the death of Alex Malamalatabua, who died at 17, while in care, with nowhere to go. He had been, for months, in the child and adolescent psychiatric emergency unit at B.C. Children’s Hospital. For months, when the facility…. It should be an average stay of just one month. In effect, he was living in a hospital, and there was nowhere for him to go. The comments from the independent children’s representative after he died were: “We need a better care system. We have completely defunded therapeutic foster care.” So this is Bill 41, addressing a case like Alex Malamalatabua, age 17, who died while in care. Finally, I believe that Bill 41, in its effort to address youth agreements, was also drafted in connection to Peter Lang, who died at 15, while in care, after being left alone for 40 minutes while he was detoxing from a meth addiction, when his parents were told he would be under constant supervision. Again, the issue being rehabilitative help, the ability to provide youth agreements beyond the age of 19…. Here we have Paige Gauchier, Carly Fraser, Alex Gervais, Alex Malamalatabua and Peter Lang — all cases that have been revealed since May, all cases where young people died.-----------The sum total of the legislative response in this session that we see from this government is Bill 41, where they make some adjustments — or are suggesting some adjustments — to youth agreements. I just believe that this falls very short of what a response should be to the cases that I just outlined.------

and we see the strangers in their positions
with their duties plain to see
withhold the justice
required for these children

and we see the strangers in their positions
frame the conversation
with no right to information or with information kept within
we stare at the consequences


and we see the strangers in their positions
make the legislation that kills
they fall far short of remediation and relief
the legislation itself creates the suffering


and we see the strangers in their positions
flip flop on the beaches of spin
as they tell us that the extension of the contracts
will repair what the entire tenure in child welfare failed


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0nmHymgM7Y
Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker (Audio)

https://www.leg.bc.ca/content-hansard/index/40th4th/2015subjectm.htm
Province of British Columbia
Fourth Session, 40th Parliament – 2015
INDEX (Subject and Business entries)
Debates of the Legislative Assembly (Hansard)




https://www.leg.bc.ca/documents-data/debate-transcripts/40th-parliament/4th-session/20151028pm-Hansard-v30n5#9874
Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
(Hansard)

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2015
Afternoon Sitting

Volume 30, Number 5

ISSN 0709-1281 (Print)
ISSN 1499-2175 (Online)

D. Donaldson: I rise today to take my place in second reading debate on Bill 41, specifically Bill 41, part 2, which deals with amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act.
Those amendments primarily deal with the provision of youth agreements. Overall, it appears to give the director the ability to offer youth agreements to youth who turn 19 — previously youth who were termed as having aged out of ministry care. It also removes references to the duration of limitations of youth agreements from legislation, replacing them with regulation.


At committee stage, I’ll be addressing more of the specifics, but at this point, I’d like to speak generally. What we’re facing here is a response to many cases that we’ve witnessed and revealed and heard about since May. I must say that I try to remain positive. I’m a hopeful person, and I give credit where credit is due when I believe that the government is implementing legislative changes that make a difference.

This bill, in regards to the Child, Family and Community Services Act, makes amendments that could make a difference for a limited number of youth.
What it is, though…. As a sum total of the legislative response of this government to the issue of youth transitioning out of care, it falls very short, in my opinion. I’ll speak to that. I’ll speak to the context, the issues the bill is attempting to address and, specifically, to youth agreements.


But it’s not just that Bill 41 is in response to that horrific situation of Paige Gauchier. It was also, I believe, drafted in the government response to the death of Carly Fraser, a young woman who died only 20 hours and a few minutes after aging out of care, with no investigation, with the rehabilitative help that was needed not there and with, eventually, a freedom-of-information request by her mother, Lisa Fraser, to find out what actually happened in her child’s life turned down by this government. Bill 41 is also in response to that young woman who aged out of care and died.
I think, also, the context for Bill 41 relates to Alex Gervais. He was an aboriginal, a young Métis man, who ended up falling from the fourth-floor window of a hotel at age 19 and dying — dying while in care. He had been in a group home that was closed and was moved, contrary to government policy, to a hotel, where he lived for many months — many months. There was no transition plan in his young life either. He was 18, almost at the time of aging out of care, which Bill 41 addresses.
I also believe that Bill 41 was a response by the government to the death of Alex Malamalatabua, who died at 17, while in care, with nowhere to go. He had been, for months, in the child and adolescent psychiatric emergency unit at B.C. Children’s Hospital. For months, when the facility…. It should be an average stay of just one month. In effect, he was living in a hospital, and there was nowhere for him to go.
The comments from the independent children’s representative after he died were: “We need a better care system. We have completely defunded therapeutic foster care.” So this is Bill 41, addressing a case like Alex Malamalatabua, age 17, who died while in care.
Finally, I believe that Bill 41, in its effort to address youth agreements, was also drafted in connection to Peter Lang, who died at 15, while in care, after being left alone for 40 minutes while he was detoxing from a meth addiction, when his parents were told he would be under constant supervision. Again, the issue being rehabilitative help, the ability to provide youth agreements beyond the age of 19….
Here we have Paige Gauchier, Carly Fraser, Alex Gervais, Alex Malamalatabua and Peter Lang — all cases that have been revealed since May, all cases where young people died.


The sum total of the legislative response in this session that we see from this government is Bill 41, where they make some adjustments — or are suggesting some adjustments — to youth agreements. I just believe that this falls very short of what a response should be to the cases that I just outlined.



Bill 41 is a response to Paige’s life and Paige’s story. If this is the sum total of the government’s response around kids and youth and young people transitioning out of care, then I think it is wholly, wholly inadequate. At 19, Paige aged out — in other words, the Ministry of Children and Family Development were no longer responsible for her care. She was living in a foster home at the time. When the foster parents phoned the ministry office and said, “Well, she turned 19 today. What do we do with her belongings? All we have is a garbage bag,” they were told, “Put her belongings in a garbage bag, and deliver them to the last known place that we know she was at,” which was the school. Her belongings delivered in a garbage bag to her school. Now we have Bill 41, a response to Paige’s story.
It’s talking about youth agreements. It’s talking about services after 19. Now I’m going to talk a little bit about what that means and why this response is inadequate. A youth agreement is not foster care, with all of the supports that are contingent with foster care. As pointed out in the Paige report…. I’ll quote a little bit from that report, because it was the genesis of the bill that we see today:
“A youth agreement is a legal agreement between the Ministry of Children and Family Development and a youth, most typically between the ages of 16 to 18” — this bill involves making amendments to expand that beyond 18 — “who is affected by an adverse condition, such as severe substance abuse or sexual exploitation and is unable to live at home or with another family or adult. The purpose of the agreement is to help such youth gain independence, return to school or gain work experience and life skills.
“However, there are six criteria that must be filled in order for a youth to proceed with a youth agreement. As such, these criteria are not attainable by many vulnerable youth who may have the capacity to live independently. Conversely, many youth who are assessed as eligible are placed on youth agreements before they are ready to live independently.”
In the case of Paige, by the time she turned 19, all indications are that she was addicted to drugs. She had been severely traumatized by being involved in the sex trade. She had been abused. This is not the kind of youth who are going to be able to, on their own, gain enough experience on a youth agreement to return to school. A youth agreement in the instance of Paige, you know, provided her with funding for some of her personal medical needs, which is good, including transportation to medical appointments in other communities.


The point here is that under this Bill 41 and the suggestions that are being made as amendments to the Child, Family and Community Service Act, they don’t talk about the resources that are needed to actually give a helping hand to young youth, like Paige, who are in terrible predicaments and are labelled service-resistant. It’s not simply providing additional cash resources to the youth, which it appears that this amendment is about.
It’s about the rehabilitative services that are needed. It’s about a whole host of services that are needed. The Paige report by the independent youth representative goes a long ways to point that out. Rehabilitation services would be needed in the case of Paige, in the case of Alex Malamalatabua and in the case of Peter Lang to provide the important transition support needed for them to actually get to school, for them to actually get to jobs, for them to actually become contributing members of society and overcome the challenges they face.
But all Bill 41 does is say that the government may — may, discretionary — provide a youth agreement, offer a youth agreement, to a youth past 19. Again, that might help. If it does help a few young people who are in care to get to the next stage, then that’s a good thing. But as the legislative response in this session to the litany of hurt and pain and waste of human potential that I outlined in my earlier remarks, it is just not up to snuff.
The amendments to the act add life skills as well as rehabilitative services. But look at who we’re dealing with here: children who have great trauma. If the life skills aren’t there in first place, then what’s going to happen to these children? It says that in a youth agreement, under these proposed amendments, the youth has to be involved in life skills and has to be involved in a rehabilitative program. Many of these rehabilitative programs aren’t available, especially in more rural areas. Trauma counselling — you have to go hundreds of kilometres, in some communities, to access trauma counselling.
In Bill 41 it says: “Well, if a youth like Paige doesn’t take us up on life skills, then potentially, she should be cut off the youth agreement.” I mean, the reality of the youth that we’re dealing with and the challenges and barriers that they have to overcome is not addressed in the section of Bill 41 that deals with the Child, Family and Community Service Act. Sixty percent of youth in care are of aboriginal descent, but youth agreements are not available to delegated aboriginal agencies for youth living on reserve. So the amendments proposed under Bill 41 do nothing to address that huge gap.
We’ve got an issue here. We have 60 percent of children in care who are of aboriginal descent, and the population of the province of aboriginal ancestry is 5 percent, so it’s totally out of balance there. I would think that if I was wanting to draft legislation that really got to the crux of youth transitioning out of care, I would make sure that in that legislation I’d have something to say about services to aboriginal youth who are aging out of care.
Instead, this bill, Bill 41 and the amendments proposed, are silent on that — silent on the fact that 60 percent of youth in care are of aboriginal descent, yet youth agreements are not available to delegated aboriginal authorities for youth on reserve. It’s mind-boggling, in the fact that that was not addressed in this legislation. Again, it’s part of the reason that I say that Bill 41 falls far short of a legislative strategy to address the whole issue of the transitioning of youth out of care.

What a serious and wholesome approach would be and what Bill 41 could have addressed was recommendation No. 1 from the Representative for Children and Youth under Paige’s Story.
Recommendation No. 1 has a number of bullet points, but the one that is really pertinent to what we’re talking about today under Bill 41 is this, and I’ll quote from the report. This is the recommendation.
“Enhanced transition planning is offered for aboriginal youth who are aging out of government care, with the recognition that these youth may require particularly robust services, including foster care and other supports, that extend beyond the age of 19. Aboriginal girls in care who are at risk of drug overdose, involvement in survival sex trade and poor school attendance to be offered extension of foster care to 24 years of age.”
Other provinces have enacted legislation similar to that. The point that the Representative for Children and Youth is making in that recommendation, the point that is pertinent to Bill 41, is that youth agreements fall far short of foster care, and as it stands today when a child ages out of care from the Ministry of Children and Family Development at age 19, they’re no longer available for foster care.
Under the amendments under Bill 41, they might be offered a youth agreement. But the distinction that the Representative for Children and Youth is making is that the resources required for a fair transition, for a just transition for these young people are not available under youth agreements. They are available under foster care.
So I’m going to conclude my remarks here in this second reading debate of Bill 41, in particular addressing part 2 of the bill around the Child, Family and Community Service Act amendments, with just the general comment that it’s disturbing and it’s disappointing that this is the sum total of the government’s youth response plan in a legislative framework after looking at the horrific stories of Paige, the horrific stories of Carly Fraser, the horrific stories of Alex Gervais, the horrific story of Alex Malamalatabua and the horrific story of Peter Lang.
Those stories that have been revealed to us over the last six months — just since May; less than six months — deserve a more fulsome, a much better, a much stronger legislative response than what we’ve seen here today and what we’ll get into at committee stage with this bill.
I believe the youth of this province deserve better. I believe
the families of this province deserve better. I believe we can do better, and I expect better from the government. And I’ll have more comments at committee stage.


  • Gerhardius
@Toxteth O'Grady if you aren't simply performing a stimulus response and are actually interested in this issue as more than a political point may I suggest the Gove Inquiry as a good place to start. The issues with "Ministry Care" are endemic to the system regardless of the government of the day. Spout the talking points you were given if you like or try to educate yourself about the fact that most issues of government failure are down to decisions by bureaucrats rather than who won the last election.

Unfortunately it doesn't matter which party has been elected because the actual decisions about spending and services are made by bureaucrats who are loyal neither to the public nor the frontline union workers delivering the actual services. Bureaucracies are loyal unto themselves first and they know 90% of the public can't be bothered to understand or, more likely, can't comprehend elected officials are largely figureheads. A government budget is just a piece of paper, as are directives banning raises or bonuses or hiring more management. Cutting services takes place even when budgets increase.

Why are there more bureaucrats in every ministry yet fewer services almost across the board? Somehow new managers get added to oversee dwindling staff numbers yet it isn't "news" except for the very rare occasion when media actually investigate the issue. Invariably they play right into the same false dichotomy by laying the blame at the feet of a powerless figurehead with the title "minister." All she/he can ever do is resign, cherished fantasies of "change" are quickly destroyed. Every politician who gets into cabinet learns that lesson one way or another and until a party stands up to the system they inherit there is no hope for change.« less

  • marrian54
Anyone who is an active meth user needs supervised detox, and residential care to succeed. Especially a 15 year old who had obvious problems that led to his addiction in the first place.

Day programs have a very low success rates, and no child should be attending them.






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