Thursday, January 24
The search for answers at the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry is moving up the food chain. Today it heard from two witnesses: a senior manager and a former CEO of Winnipeg Child and Family Services.
Dan Berg started on the stand yesterday. He's the manager who oversaw the work of the final social work team asked to assess Phoenix Sinclair in March 2005.
The workers, we know, closed the file without anyone seeing Phoenix or assessing her safety. Their supervisor, Diva Faria, signed off on the decision.
Later reports on how the agency handled the file would call the decision "catastrophic."
Berg was a tough nut to crack. He pushed back and wasn't afraid to get into a few aggressive word tussles.
He also stood by his underlings. He refused to condemn their work. But he did testify the team didn't have to close Phoenix's file and had three other options available to it.
Berg spoke of tremendous workload and of being, himself, somewhat unprepared for the role of manager.
The most interesting exchange came during cross-examination. The agency
had a cascade of changing standards in the early- to mid-2000s. There
was also little in the way of training on those standards.
Lawyer Jeff Gindin wanted to know what effect that had on the workers.
Gindin: Did you ever feel that there were too many manuals and guidelines and policies and all of that?
Berg: I did, sir.
Gindin: And perhaps not enough common sense, which is a word I know you don't like to talk about, but I do.
Berg: Well, sir, standards don't have anything to do with common sense. There are guiding principles for us to follow.
With CBC's Katie Nicholson where an inquiry is trying to figure out how a little girl fell through the cracks.