B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth is blasting the provincial government for wasting tens of millions of dollars on failed initiatives to help aboriginal youth.
In a report released Wednesday, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond details how the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) spent $66 million over the past dozen years on measures that don't appear to have made any difference in the lives of those they're designed to help.
“MCFD has supported these big, blue-sky initiatives which were neither clearly articulated nor properly scrutinized," said Turpel-Lafond in a statement.
"The ministry has been overly focused on transferring the responsibility to provide services instead of ensuring aboriginal children and youth are getting the help they desperately need.”
While millions have been spent on these initiatives, Turpel-Lafond says B.C. still lacks a system of therapeutic residential care, a comprehensive provincewide response to domestic violence, and an effective child and youth mental health system.
The report, entitled When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C., recommends MCFD focus on developing a cross-ministry plan to close the outcome gaps for aboriginal children and youth in B.C..
It also recommends that MCFD "review its senior leadership structure to ensure that the level of aboriginal representation on the ministry leadership team and in its decision-making process reflects the over-representation of aboriginal children in the child welfare system."
Stephanie Cadieux, B.C.'s Minister of Children and Family Development, said she accepts the recommendations from Turpel-Lafond, but doesn't believe the government's efforts have been a complete waste.
"The work over the last 10 years has been well intentioned and much of it good work," said Cadieux.
"But I agree with the representative that in doing so my ministry strayed from its mandate of providing direct services to children and youth. We want to realign and make sure that we're doing direct services."