Saturday, March 11, 2017

---#Transparency?AccountabilityThere is none-------------#justiceforserenity--and I tell you that a sparrow won't fall now / that won't be told by all of us-------“There is no evidence of change,” said Richter. “Nothing happened. Frankly, I’m disappointed not to see more aggressive action from this new government. They were vocal enough on this issue when they were in opposition.”---------“There’s a real hard-wired defensiveness within the department,” said Richter. “They’re always under such scrutiny that their first instinct is to keep things quiet and keep their minister looking good.”------Doctors have also been pushing for changes to the child death review system to create a broader pediatric death review process for all children — so far, with few results. In a letter obtained by Postmedia, sent last month to a number of Alberta Health Services staff, including its CEO Verna Yiu, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Karen Grimsrud outlined the problem.----“I agree that the reviews of child death in Alberta need to be more comprehensive and coordinated, and the current review processes do not meet the standards recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society,” Grimsrud wrote in a letter dated Nov. 9. -----However, she wrote, it was up to the provincial government, and not AHS or physicians, to take the lead in creating a new child death review system: “As next steps, the government of Alberta will convene an initial meeting with Alberta Health, Justice and Solicitor General and Human Services.”---But Richter said there are volumes of good recommendations already. But someone needs to act. “We don’t need another review. This comes down to leadership. The premier and the minister need to do their jobs.”

Beyond a certain point we must go beyond speech to political action. It is clear to me that politicians and government will not deal with the preventable abuse and deaths of all our vulnerable citizens because it does not WANT to do this work. If the GOA was interested in adverse events, harm, fatality in the system they would do the work required instead of stalling for decades about doing the prevention, oversight and penalty making that is required in both the child welfare and the continuing care system.
No government is interested in system wide change that will show it's own failures.
What we need to do as citizens is to join up --as families to act together politically.
Umbrella organizations need to form of families who have experienced harm and fatality. For example the folks at Protecting Canadian Children joins up with the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society and then we join up with human rights organizations such as the Not Dead Yet movement. Grassroots political action will ensure that governments change. We pull them forwards so that there is indeed that thing that government parades before us like a dead thing--justice. Let there be justice and let us be the ones who ensure justice. #justiceforserenity


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"Your silence will not protect you." ~Audre Lorde


and I told the stories
that were given to me

about dead children
and their grief struck families

and I slipped out the door
of prose and into poetry

which is the landscape
of death and paradise


and I wished for love
and I got more than I deserved

so I was able to say without shame
these are their names      these dead children

and I left the past
so that I could seek what is mysterious

which is the soul
that blue thing that becomes tawdry in some of us

and I hoped for happiness
and I got pain which is the other side of pleasure

I learned of system wide failures
and preventable deaths of our most vulnerable children



and I thought hard
about seeing differently the same game

I decided like Velvet Martin and Audre Lorde
that our silence won't save us



and I worked for the cause
which is the cause of all of us

these are all our children
and our society is diminished by their suffering and deaths



and I helped all I could
so that the world would advance

but every day I failed
at the singing


and I said my name without fear
because I believe      we must stand by the words we speak carefully

but after a specific point
we must go beyond speech to political action

we must alter the indifference and incompetence
to good performance in government and public bodies

this won't happen all by itself
with entrenched bureaucrats guarding their turfs of shame

but it will happen
when families join up for political action

and I tell you that a sparrow won't fall now
that won't be told by all of us


we are speaking and we join together as activists
to take political action in the next election


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFrpzPR6TLY&list=RDEFrpzPR6TLY#t=4

Rodney Crowell - "It Ain't Over Yet (feat. Rosanne Cash & John Paul White)" [Official Video]



http://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/paula-simons-critical-report-into-four-year-old-girls-death-not-given-to-rcmp-until-this-week

Paula Simons: Critical report into four-year-old Serenity's death not given to RCMP until this week

PAULA SIMONS, EDMONTON JOURNAL

More from Paula Simons, Edmonton Journal

Published on: December 8, 2016 | Last Updated: December 8, 2016 8:24 AM MST

Serenity, in a photo taken in February 2014, seven months before her death. By then, her arms were already skeletal, and she had cuts and bruises on her face.

Serenity was four years old when she died in September 2014 after a traumatic head injury. SUPPLIED

SHAREADJUSTCOMMENTPRINT

I’ve never yelled at a cabinet minister before. But I did Wednesday night.

That’s when Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir told me his department neglected to give the RCMP its internal report into the death of four-year-old Serenity, the First Nations girl who died after being placed in kinship care on a central Alberta reserve, until Tuesday of this week.

“It was an unfortunate error,” said Sabir. “As minister, I take responsibility on behalf of the government.”

Serenity was four years old when she died in September 2014 after a traumatic head injury. She was also suffering from serious hypothermia, catastrophic malnutrition, and anal and genital bruising. A year before, she had been of normal body weight. When she arrived at hospital, she weighed just 18 pounds, the typical weight for a nine-month-old baby.

It took two full years to complete her autopsy report. Alberta’s new chief medical examiner, Elizabeth Brooks-Lim, said that’s because it was a complicated case with lots of nuances.

Alberta’s child and youth advocate was never provided with her cause of death. Del Graff’s efforts to investigate were repeatedly stymied, because, according to his office, repeated requests to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for basic information, over the course of two years, were simply unacknowledged.

There have never been any charges laid in Serenity’s death. Last month, the RCMP told Postmedia their investigation was on hold, awaiting further reports.

What reports? Now we know.

Elden Block, the statutory director of children’s services, said his department did an internal review of Serenity’s death. The review, said Sabir, was forwarded to the First Nations child welfare authority, responsible for the First Nations reserve where Serenity had been living in a kinship care guardianship arrangement.

Sabir said it was the job of that band welfare authority to forward the file to the RCMP for investigation.

That never happened. No one ever gave that information to the police.

Instead, the Mounties had to contact Sabir’s department to ask for the information — after they read the news stories about Graff’s report into the little girl’s death.

That was in mid-November. Yet for reasons no one could explain to me, the RCMP didn’t actually get the critical report until Tuesday, Dec. 6.

It’s hard to think of a more frustrating example of Alberta’s failed child death review system in action. Or rather, in inaction.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

In 2014, in the wake of the Edmonton Journal-Calgary Herald investigation into the secrecy surrounding the deaths of children in care, the human services minister of the day, Manmeet Bhullar, struck an expert panel to offer recommendations on reforming and streamlining Alberta’s labyrinthine child death review system.

“The child death review system is governed by two ministries, three different laws, an internal policy document, unwritten conventions and political whim,” the Journal’s Karen Kleiss wrote in the Fatal Care series. “At least six groups with divergent mandates review some or all child welfare deaths, depending on the laws that govern them.”

The panel, chaired by Tim Richter, recommended the creation of a new multi-disciplinary child death review committee, within the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, to investigate the deaths of all Alberta children. The idea wasn’t just to hold people accountable, but to make sure the health care and child welfare systems had the best possible data to help prevent future fatalities.

Tim Richter is president and CEO of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

In 2014, Tim Richter chaired an expert committee that recommended a major overhaul of Alberta’s child death review system. “Nothing happened,” he says now. SUPPLIED

Bhullar accepted the report’s key recommendations.

“For me, change can’t come soon enough,” he said at the time.

But while Bhullar brought in legislation that expanded the investigative role of the child and youth advocate, the rest of the changes Richter’s panel proposed never came to pass.

“There is no evidence of change,” said Richter. “Nothing happened. Frankly, I’m disappointed not to see more aggressive action from this new government. They were vocal enough on this issue when they were in opposition.”

Instead, said Richter, Sabir has been steam-rollered by the size of his sprawling ministry, and by an institutional bureaucracy with a huge investment in protecting itself.

“There’s a real hard-wired defensiveness within the department,” said Richter. “They’re always under such scrutiny that their first instinct is to keep things quiet and keep their minister looking good.”

Block insisted there have been internal changes, that all deaths of children receiving intervention services are now investigated: “If there are findings and recommendations, they will be made public.”

But 71 children receiving protective services have died in this province since 2014-15, when the new rules supposedly came into effect. And so far, Block admitted, the department has not completed or released a single public report into their deaths.

Transparency? Accountability? There is none.

RELATED

Doctors have also been pushing for changes to the child death review system to create a broader pediatric death review process for all children — so far, with few results.

In a letter obtained by Postmedia, sent last month to a number of Alberta Health Services staff, including its CEO Verna Yiu, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Karen Grimsrud outlined the problem.

“I agree that the reviews of child death in Alberta need to be more comprehensive and coordinated, and the current review processes do not meet the standards recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society,” Grimsrud wrote in a letter dated Nov. 9.

However, she wrote, it was up to the provincial government, and not AHS or physicians, to take the lead in creating a new child death review system: “As next steps, the government of Alberta will convene an initial meeting with Alberta Health, Justice and Solicitor General and Human Services.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karen Grimsrud. In a letter last month, she said that Alberta's child death review process does not meet the standards of the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Karen Grimsrud. In a letter to AHS officials last month, she acknowledged that Alberta’s child death review process does not meet the standards set by the Canadian Paediatric Society.BLOOM, DAVID / POSTMEDIA

It’s frustrating, to say the least. Three years after the Fatal Care series ran, and 2-1/2 years after the previous government accepted the recommendation to create a new child death review committee, people are still discussing “an initial meeting” of interested parties.

This week, the official Opposition proposed perfectly reasonable sounding terms of reference for a new all-party committee to look into Alberta’s child welfare system. The government rejected them, with no explanation, beyond saying it was coming up with terms of reference of its own. When will that be? This year? Next year? There are no answers.

But Richter said there are volumes of good recommendations already. But someone needs to act.

“We don’t need another review. This comes down to leadership. The premier and the minister need to do their jobs.”

psimons@postmedia.com

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