Alex Gervais: Aunt says report falls short in examining death

Alex Gervais's aunt is calling on the provincial government to review how it determines where children in ministry care get placed, and whether family members are called.

Aunt says ministry didn't ask her or her family if they could take in the 18-year-old

Alex Gervais died after he jumped from the window of a hotel in Abbotsford. (Dylan Pelley/Facebook)

Alex Gervais's aunt is calling on the provincial government to review how it determines where children in ministry care get placed.

Line Decarie's comments come on the heels of a recent provincial report believed to be about her nephew. 

The government will not confirm who the report is about, but a ministry spokesman does confirm a review with respect to an 'A.G.' has been completed.

Decarie also believes the details in the report's summary matches the circumstances of the 18-year-old.   

Gervais committed suicide last fall by jumping from the window of the Abbotsford hotel he was living in while in provincial care. His death, and subsequent media reports about the despair he felt in his life, cast scrutiny on how the province determines where these children live. 

The ministry routinely conducts reports into deaths of children and youths if they have lived in ministry care for more than a year. 

In this case, the report's summary states "there was no extended family that could provide the care required."

Decarie, however, said her family would have been happy to take in Gervais — had they been asked. 

"I think they need to state that nobody ever came forward and told us this was going on," said Decarie. 

"Extended families should be contacted. I think if you can place a child back into the family be it with the aunt, the uncle, the cousin, the grand parent, that's best for the child and I don't see it here."

Action plan 

The summary goes on to provide details about an action plan to ensure Aboriginal agencies have a "practice directive" on responding to children and youth who are potentially suicidal. 

The summary also states the government will ensure those agencies finish training "all delegated staff in suicide intervention through the Crisis and Trauma Response Institute."

In addition, the report highlights the government's failure to plan for Gervais's exit from care. "The plan lacked collaboration between the DAA staff, the community service providers who had long term relationships with the youth and collaboration with the Aboriginal Services Branch," reads the summary.

The Ministry of Children and Family Development is in the midst of reviewing its policies and services for transitioning youth out of care.

In a statement the Ministry of Children and Family Development said "action plans are developed collaboratively to address practice issues identified in the reviews. Action plans are meant to drive continuous improvement and we need to know that those plans are being adhered to and timelines are being met."