Thursday, December 15, 2016

Silence is complicit ----Mdm. Marie-Claude Landry Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission----In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the Notley government and Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir dodge, weave and duck hard questions, sounding every bit as defensive, obdurate and heartless as the Conservative government before them. We’ve seen the Wildrose making hay, thundering righteously about government mistakes, calling fiercely for Sabir’s resignation. And, almost ludicrously, we’ve seen the Tories demanding changes to the system — without acknowledging they’re the ones who left it broken.-------When the NDP took power in May 2015, many hoped Premier Rachel Notley would address these injustices. Since then, another 38 children receiving protective services have died. Almost none has been named. While the NDP committed to completing reports into those deaths, and publishing the recommendations, it has never ever done so.----Enough.--- Linda Hallworth The NDP government not only inherited this tragic mess from the PC government, but they also inherited thousands of PC-loyal civil servants, managers, and Assistant Deputy Ministers within every single department of the provincial government, some of whom have worked very, very hard to not only protect their former boss's secrets and blunders but revel in their continued ability to stymie and withhold information to protect themselves and their jobs. It's been just 18 months since they took over, but NDP Ministers and top aides are still unravelling and uncovering who is and isn't "good" in every single department. Many of these civil servants have been entrenched in the system for their entire careers during the PC's 47-year reign. There will be pension payouts and probably litigation, but the rotten apples need to go if real progress is to be made. Like · Reply · 6 · Dec 10, 2016 11:49pm Julie Ali · University of Alberta The NDP can no longer whine to us about their troubles which seem to be those of the PCs before them. We're not interested. We pay the MLAs to do real work not fantasy work or useless work on multiple panels that have thousands of recommendations that are not implemented. The real job of government is to provide legislation and ensure that the laws are followed by the public bodies and entities assigned to carry out the legislative work. In this case, there was a failure of government to ensure the care, safety and follow up of a child who was being abused in the care of government. The GOA bears full responsibility and liability for this failure in my opinion. It doesn't matter to me who is in the GOA or what their politics are. The PCs were in charge when Serenity was being beaten and starved to death. The NDP are in charge while the autopsy report is delayed unconscionably and the mother of these kids is denied any information. These are inappropriate actions of the GOA no matter who is in charge. If the NDP can't get entrenched civil servants to do the work required, fire them. The job of the NDP folks is to lead the GOA. So lead. Or we will find new leaders. Like · Reply · 52 mins-

Paula Simons: Will our political leaders allow Serenity's death to be in vain?

Published on: December 9, 2016 | Last Updated: December 9, 2016 7:39 PM MST
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Her name was Serenity.
She wasn’t a political cause. She was a four-year-old child of Alberta, a First Nations girl, who died terribly in 2014, a death for which no person or government agency has been held accountable.
Since the story of Serenity’s short, tragic life became public, she’s become both a symbol of everything that’s wrong with our dysfunctional child welfare system, and everything that’s wrong with our dysfunctional legislature.
The death of Serenity, here a happy toddler riding her trike, has prompted MLAs to form an all-party committee to look into the child welfare system in Alberta.
The death of Serenity, here a happy toddler riding her trike, has prompted MLAs to form an all-party committee to look into the child welfare system in Alberta. SUPPLIED
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen the Notley government and Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir dodge, weave and duck hard questions, sounding every bit as defensive, obdurate and heartless as the Conservative government before them. We’ve seen the Wildrose making hay, thundering righteously about government mistakes, calling fiercely for Sabir’s resignation. And, almost ludicrously, we’ve seen the Tories demanding changes to the system — without acknowledging they’re the ones who left it broken.
None of this gets us anywhere. Forget the partisan gamesmanship. It’s time to recognize that over generations, we’ve all allowed the creation of an entrenched child welfare bureaucracy that seems more committed to protecting itself than protecting vulnerable children.
Our system has been broken for decades. And our aboriginal child welfare policy has been a disaster since the first residential school opened. But problems escalated under Ralph Klein when social spending was slashed and the government started privatizing the child welfare system, contracting out to a patchwork of agencies, not-for-profit groups, regional offices and under-funded First Nations.
Not everything about the contracting-out model was bad. But there was never enough central oversight; and every time the province downloaded responsibility to a third party, it lessened not just its own control, but its own accountability. When something went wrong, a minister could always blame the frontline agency.
Then, the Conservatives brought in draconian laws that made it a crime to publish information that might identify a child who died in care. They allowed the development of a ludicrous child death review system with so many agencies in conflict, there was no accountability. And they pushed “kinship care” — keeping children together with extended families — a model that saved the province money and sounded politically fashionable, but that often placed kids in homes that had not been properly screened, with caregivers unequipped to care for them.
Between 1999 and 2013, 741 Alberta children died while in care or while receiving child welfare services. By cross-referencing news stories and various government reports, our Fatal Care investigative team was able to identify 63 of those children. The rest remain anonymous to this day — the faceless, nameless disappeared of Alberta. And until last month, Serenity was among them.
In the aftermath of Fatal Care, the province amended the law that penalized journalists who published the names of the dead. But it still refused to name the children. To this day, we can only print the names if we discover them by other investigative techniques. That’s how I was able to discover Serenity. Without her pictures, and her name, she’d have been another anonymous statistic. I’ve written columns about children who suffered abuse just as horrendous. But this story galvanized public reaction like no other — because you could see her face, you couldn’t look away.
When the NDP took power in May 2015, many hoped Premier Rachel Notley would address these injustices.
Since then, another 38 children receiving protective services have died. Almost none has been named. While the NDP committed to completing reports into those deaths, and publishing the recommendations, it has never ever done so.
Enough.

RELATED

This is a watershed moment. Will our political leaders have the guts and the principles to put aside partisan politics to serve Alberta’s kids?
Not long ago, I talked to one of the foster families that had cared for Serenity’s two older siblings. The woman told me that she tried to comfort herself with this bleak thought: Serenity’s death effectively rescued her surviving siblings from hellish abuse in the same “kinship care” home.
In saving her brother and sister, she felt Serenity’s sacrifice had not been in vain.
Please — let’s not let Serenity’s death be for nothing. Let’s not let the unprecedented public reaction to her death accomplish nothing. We have binders and binders full of thoughtful expert recommendations ready and waiting.
Will this finally be the moment that we act? Not just for Serenity — but for the hundreds and hundreds of other dead and abused children, whose names and stories we don’t yet know.
psimons@postmedia.com
www.facebook.com/PaulaSimons



Julie Ali ·
I doubt that anything will change in the child welfare and continuing care system until the public forces the GOA to do its job.
When will this happen? I believe there is no hope for the child welfare system Families in this system lack the voice needed to move government.
In the continuing care system, there will be change because baby boomers will force change on the government at all levels. We're not a silent bunch and we vote out workers who don't do the job for us.

The pity of all of this is that there is so much suffering and death for no damn reason. Workers need to do their work and if they don't they should suffer penalties. The GOA needs to do its job or it should be held responsible by the public. Children and youth -especially our complex care cases need to be serviced with integrated care plans with face to face contact and medical teams involved. This junk should never occur. And that it did occur means to me at least that the culture at the GOA is beyond repair.
LikeReplyJust now
Norman Gee ·
The old fashioned meaning of responsibility includes suffering consequences if one screws up. Minister Sabir seems to follow a more modern usage. Once one recite the magic phrase "I take complete responsibility" then one is completely absolved.

Paula should be careful. With her pursuing the issue Minister Sabit may feel bullied, maybe harassed and almost certainly have his feeling hurt.
LikeReply10Dec 10, 2016 7:25am
Louis Tiedemann
We all know who's responsible.
LikeReply2Dec 10, 2016 9:36am
Lloyd Diggins ·
Louis Tiedemann please enlighten us, or quit commenting just to read your name in this section. Based on your fb profile im pretty sure its a fake account anyway. What happened to the journals policy that a picture in your profile was mandatory. it was like that when i tried to comment on here anywa.
LikeReplyDec 11, 2016 9:10am
Al Stratford ·
Privatization has for sure had a major impact on the child welfare system. The Other two major forces have been de-professionalization and managerialism; both concepts linked to failed neo-liberal ideology. What we continue to see is a lack of core social work training with many child protection workers not having an minimum education level of BSW and many moving to child protection as an entry level job (not entry level). Secondly these folks are not registered or regulated by the professional body, this means no third party insight into professional misconduct. Finally and in my mind most importantly we have continued to see public administrators rather social workers move into management and leadership positions. This has been to put a focus on efficiencies and budgets rather then effectiveness and structural change. These habe all been ideological shifts to the right. What the child welfare systems needs is transformation and political license to take a major shift to the left… You want the NDP to fix it, let them be the NDP
LikeReply3Dec 10, 2016 6:19am
Laura MacRae ·
I don't want the politics of the right or of the left. I want some common sense, some decency, some concern. If the politicians and the administration cannot do this I am certain we could strike a committee of 20 Albertans who could review the other 8 studies, ignore the politics and gov speak and get this fixed. I am starting to think it is the only way it will ever be properly addressed.
UnlikeReply6Dec 10, 2016 8:13am
Harold Baker ·
Al…are you a social worker or a promoter of political parties. Your job title suggests you are the voice of social workers in Nova Scotia but your meanderings suggest you are the voice of partisan politics. Not once did you say that you or your members are upset about the death of Serenity…that is so sad and hard to believe that social workers are not outraged with what happened to Serenity! You make it clear this is about self-preservation and working within a specific political circle!

Al…today’s government in Alberta is NDP…people are asking this government to account for what happened and continues to happen to Serenity case file to ensure it does not happen to other children.

Rather than move to fix it the NDP choose the oldest ploy in politics…appoint an all party Ministerial Committee. This then allows the NDP to use politics to point fingers to the opposition if agreement can’t be reached or recommendations don’t suit their agenda (whatever that might be). Problem is memory of Serenity’s ends in on the pile of political stupidity that governments create.

Sadly Nova Scotia social workers are not interested in what happened to Serenity or the deaths of 31 children in the care of the NDP since their election. Serenity does not deserve the kind of treatment she is receiving from you, your members, the NDP government or ANY government who allowed this death to occur and then fails to act to protect the children still in their care!
UnlikeReply4Dec 10, 2016 1:04pm
Gaston Synnott ·
Concluding with asking no one in particular to ‘let NDP be the NDP’ hardly represents a major shift to the left.

One step maybe.

In recent times, the new Democrats have been quite willing to trade in their traditional left thinking discourse for sets of generally unclear approximations, not all different from the what we know of the so called neo-liberals. Don’t they all call themselves ‘progressives’ now? Moving to the centre so we can implement a left agenda incrementally is seldom productive. Indeed, if you have a goal, you usually don’t get there by walking in the opposite direction. Conclusion? When speaking of the left don’t look towards the centre look towards the real left. That would speak volume.
UnlikeReply1Dec 10, 2016 3:24pmEdited
Darlene Konduc ·
As a professional, I agree with you,Al Stratford,
LikeReply1Dec 11, 2016 12:14am


Julie Ali ·
You are correct in the matter of workers who aren't either capable or have the experience to do the work of child welfare. A social worker is better than someone not trained in the field but even with social workers I don't feel the education is sufficient in terms of all the medical problems that they will encounter.Some of these cases can be complex and require integrated services and supports.However government is moving in the opposite direction. In terms of the continuing care system for eg., the dumbing down of the system is in progress to save costs; LPNs are replacing nurses with deleterious results. LPNs do not have the education or skills sets of RNs. But this is the agenda of government because it's all about the money for the GOA and for the increasingly large private sector businesses that are being encouraged to set up shop in Alberta and Canada to deal with the care of seniors.

The lack of third party oversight in the form of a professional body is a concern but really in my opinion there is no oversight even with social workers involved. Most professional bodies do not serve the public; they are there to serve their members.

The ideological shift is to the right for sure. But the NDP are the new PCs. Their ideological shift to the right has occurred while everyone in AB was asleep. Don't believe me? Just look at the information on what the NDP have been doing in the continuing care system.
http://www.friendsofmedicare.org/wodak_sundre

Closure of the LTC beds was not an AHS decision. The LTC beds in the Sundre Hospital were registered as an Auxiliary Hospital. According to the OPERATION OF APPROVED HOSPITALS REGULATION Alberta Regulation 247/1990 “Every hospital shall require prior approval of the Minister for a) any proposed major change or termination of an existing service provided by the hospital ...”

This was a decision made without any consultation with the community, and the community is very concerned about the loss of the LTC beds. AHS is now planning consultations to determine future use of the hospital space

The current NDP government is on record over a long period of time, in 2012, NDP MLA David Eggen compared the closure of the long term care facility in Carmangay to “domestic abuse” at a rally to protest Premier Redford’s decision. Also in 2012, Premier Rachel Notley commented that the Tory plan to limit LTC beds and shift to supportive living “aims to force sick seniors to shoulder a larger share of their health-related costs and live in facilities that may offer them an inadequate level of care.

"It's unfair, but it's also absolutely penny wise and pound foolish," Notley said.

"These patients will end up in much more expensive ER and acute care beds because they are the last resort."

The 2015 NDP Election Platform promised to create 2,000 public long term care beds [not to close public beds and shifting to private supportive living], and to “end the PCs’ costly experiments in privatization, and redirect the funds to publicly delivered services.

They are short-changing Alberta seniors by not creating enough long-term care beds and relying on expensive, for-profit delivery of inadequate assisted living and homecare.

Hansard records for Monday, March 14, 2016 and Tuesday March 15, 2016 show an interesting role reversal; the Wildrose protesting shutting down long-term care beds and laying off nurses in Sundre, and NDP Health Minister Hoffman explaining that they’re not really losing LTC beds, although there might be a slightly different level of care the number of beds is increasing from 15 to 40.

The Minister’s lines could have been written by any of the Tory Health Minsters in the last dozen years.
*******

They have been carrying on the policies of privatization and downshifting of responsibilities to the private sector with the incentive of public cash providing infrastructure capital to the continuing care industry. It's all very neat. Nope, the NDP aren't the solution. We're the solution. We change the political party every election until they do their jobs.
LikeReply3 mins
Jim Bean
Those providing the "kinship care" for Serenity are more to blame than anyone else, other than perhaps the mother and father that may have abandoned her (I don't know the facts regarding why they weren't looking after their children). Let's also not let political correctness get in the way of protecting children ... it too is a factor in these deaths.
LikeReply6Dec 10, 2016 8:45am
Julie Ali ·
It was the responsibility of the GOA as the public parent to ensure that the kinship placement was appropriate.

It was also the responsibility of the GOA to ensure that abuse allegations were appropriately investigated and followed up on. Why did the PC government not do the visits on this family for 11 months?

When the child died why was the investigation so prolonged and why was data management of information in this case so poor? Why did the NDP government allow an autopsy report that usually is done promptly to take 2 years under their watch? Why did the NDP government not provide information to the Child and Youth Advocate for the development of recommendations that meet all the data present? It's bad enough that the Child and Youth Advocate has very little powers due to poor legislation but to have this office write recommendations without data results in recommendations are diluted rather than strong.

It is also the ultimate responsibility of the GOA to ensure data gets to the RCMP. Even if they send the data to other offices, the GOA must get data to the RCMP for timely review of such cases. This case is a farce and this farce has nothing to do with the politics of the party in charge.

The problems in the child welfare and the continuing care system boils down to a GOA culture of entitlement, indifference and arrogance. There are system wide failures of government and delegated workers to do their jobs. When these job failures become public the GOA moves into cover your butt mode. Then there is the complete lack of transparency and accountability that the GOA adopts as a shield to weather each public storm.

As in the continuing care system the prevailing culture is that no one is responsible because there are liabiilty issues for the GOA is anyone is found responsible.
LikeReply11 minsEdited
Rossome Marshall
So it's a homicide with no investigation because a politician won't admitted the system is flawed?
LikeReply8Dec 9, 2016 8:29pm
Louis Tiedemann
Who really is responsible? we all know, but can't say it.
LikeReplyDec 10, 2016 9:34am
Lloyd Diggins ·
Louis Tiedemann why cant you say it? that makes no sense you are welcome to say whatever you want. Thats the joys of the freedom of speech. So im not sure what you talking about.
LikeReply5Dec 10, 2016 10:10am
Marie Middleton
Agreed, Lloyd Diggins
LikeReply1Dec 10, 2016 2:56pm
Julie Ali ·
Abuse and fatality in the foster care and continuing care system is never considered a problem unless it gets out to the public who don't like to have Christmas time interrupted by pictures of cute babies and children dead due to GOA incompetence and system wide failures.

Seniors dead in the system aren't as sexy as children dead in the system unless they appear in multiple numbers as in this case:http://www.lfpress.com/.../nursing-home-deaths-homes...

Silencing advocates in Alberta is one way the GOA has enabled the persistence of abuse and death in the system. The PCs created the Trespass to Premises legislation. One Tory MLA told us that it was designed without an appeal process. Why? I guess the GOA doesn't want to be bothered by families who have been banned by continuing care facilities and hospitals from seeing their loved ones asking for public clarification for the reasons for these separations. Instead of providing an independent appeal process, the NDP as usual did the politically and bureaucratically expedient solution to PC arrogance and installed an internal to AHS appeal process that is good for the bureaucrats to tie up loose ends but not good for families.

The entire system is pretty neat. Families should understand that we aren't allowed to be indignant about the messes but are supposed to be calm about abuse, repeated abuse and deaths or be banned, have legal threats directed at us and then be sued. The system is rigged folks. But of course the PCs are now bleating how the NDP are the ones to mess up. Well, yes, the NDP have messed up. They aren't living their values. They are behaving like the PCs (NDPCs) but with less control over the spin machine. It's interesting times. I just encourage all families to be nice about abuse faced by their family members and go public or y'all will get retribution and be accused of being adversarial rather than superhumanly restrained.
LikeReply10 minsEdited
Julie Ali ·
Louis Tiedemann I can say it. The GOA is responsible. The political parties in charge of the GOA are responsible. The workers who flopped on this case are responsible. And we are responsible for not holding government accountable. Of course we have to know about the problems to address the problems. We only found out when mummies like Velvet Martin started going public.
Go public folks.
Silence is complicit ----Mdm. Marie-Claude Landry Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission
LikeReply1 hr
Verna Phippen ·
What are you suggesting Louis Tiedemann? There are MANY people responsible for the many times this little helpless girl was abused and let down by this entire society. If we do not speak up about this, history will repeat itself. If you have something to say then say it. If not, you are just a coward and a drama queen!
UnlikeReply2Dec 11, 2016 7:08am
Julie Ali ·
Verna Phippen Go public folks.
Silence is complicit ----Mdm. Marie-Claude Landry Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission
LikeReply51 mins
Kimberly Poong
Hear hear, thank you for not letting this go Paula.
Iris Morgan ·
Works at Retired
Kudos to you Paula for your dedication and integrity on the reporting of the atrocities committed on sweet Serenity. Please strive to never allow this story to die the same horrendous death as this beautiful little angel. The children of Alberta deserve so much better! Your committment and honesty in reporting this horror brings my utmost respect to you as a journalist.
UnlikeReply10Dec 10, 2016 7:02pmEdited
Marie Middleton
Paula's Simons, although well meaning, is the queen of the half story. Why not ask the questions of why this girl was in care and who exactly in her family killed her. It wasn't the NDP and it wasn't the government. Simons appears to be at her best while being sanctimonious, but doesn't state that there could be information she doesn't know. How about get to the root cause on why these kids are in care and who actually killed this poor little girl.
LikeReply5Dec 10, 2016 3:01pm
Leslie Young ·
Wow maybe you should go back and read the previous articles. Paula gave a generous amount of this information when she broke the story. And seriously talk to anyone connected to the "system" they can confirm these facts are all too common
LikeReplyDec 11, 2016 8:35pm
Marie Middleton
Leslie Young Wow...I have, actually. Broke what story? Paula didn't break this story. She writes an opinion column ffs. And her opinion doesn't always provide the whole story. This case is incredibly sad.
UnlikeReply1Dec 11, 2016 8:51pm
Julie Ali ·
I guess you avoid the central point of these cases.
Please look at this case in terms of what I am going to tell you so that you understand that Paula Simons is not looking at this case in a biased way but certainly you appear to be doing this.
The GOA took the kids away from the mother.
The GOA was therefore the public parent of these kids.
The GOA put the kids in a foster care placement where they were thriving.
Then the GOA pressured the mum to transfer the kids to the kinship placement.
The GOA did not find abuse when the mother reported abuse.
The mother was not allowed to see her kids (so the boots on the floor person was deleted).
Other folks in the community complained about abuse.
Despite the fact that the child was severely underweight no one had the brains or interest to take the child to a doctor where the child would have been discovered to be starving at the very least.
The GOA is responsible not only for this child's death in my opinion but for the oddly prolonged production of an autopsy report. The GOA needs to clarify to the public why an autopsy report takes two years.
The GOA also needs to explain to us why the Child and Youth Advocate's Office which is supposed to stand up for the rights of children was handicapped in this role because the office did not get some of the data which apparently even the RCMP did not get due to the usual messes in the GOA.
The GOA cannot say this problem is due to the downstream offices failing to give the information to the other parites since the GOA is ultimately responsible for all work done in child welfare and the Minister is ultimately culpable for the failures in his department.
Although Mr. Sabir seems like a nice man he still has to do the job we pay him to do and he appears not to have been very transparent or accountable in this case.
LikeReply8 minsEdited
Jeremy Johnston ·
Well said Paula
LikeReply1Dec 9, 2016 11:15pm
Julie Ali ·
I agree. Without Paula this case would not have been detected. We never heard of the more than 700 cases until journalists told us. What the heck is going on in Alberta? Is it the silencing of the lambs?
LikeReply38 mins
Linda Hallworth
The NDP government not only inherited this tragic mess from the PC government, but they also inherited thousands of PC-loyal civil servants, managers, and Assistant Deputy Ministers within every single department of the provincial government, some of whom have worked very, very hard to not only protect their former boss's secrets and blunders but revel in their continued ability to stymie and withhold information to protect themselves and their jobs.

It's been just 18 months since they took over, but NDP Ministers and top aides are still unravelling and uncovering who is and isn't "good" in every single department. Many of these civil servants have been entrenched in the system for their entire careers during the PC's 47-year reign. There will be pension payouts and probably litigation, but the rotten apples need to go if real progress is to be made.
LikeReply6Dec 10, 2016 11:49pm
Julie Ali ·
The NDP can no longer whine to us about their troubles which seem to be those of the PCs before them.
We're not interested.
We pay the MLAs to do real work not fantasy work or useless work on multiple panels that have thousands of recommendations that are not implemented.
The real job of government is to provide legislation and ensure that the laws are followed by the public bodies and entities assigned to carry out the legislative work.
In this case, there was a failure of government to ensure the care, safety and follow up of a child who was being abused in the care of government. The GOA bears full responsibility and liability for this failure in my opinion.
It doesn't matter to me who is in the GOA or what their politics are. The PCs were in charge when Serenity was being beaten and starved to death. The NDP are in charge while the autopsy report is delayed unconscionably and the mother of these kids is denied any information. These are inappropriate actions of the GOA no matter who is in charge.

If the NDP can't get entrenched civil servants to do the work required, fire them. The job of the NDP folks is to lead the GOA. So lead. Or we will find new leaders.
LikeReply52 mins

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