Workloads put Phoenix at risk, says former CFS CEO
Phoenix Sinclair inquiry hears of high workloads, high turnover and lack of training at CFS
A former child and family services CEO testified before the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry on Monday that staff workloads put the little girl and many children like her in danger.
Linda Trigg, the former CEO of Winnipeg Child and Family Services, revealed during testimony Monday that the organization was fraught with problems throughout the little girl's life.
Read the latest blog entry by the CBC's Katie Nicholson, who is covering the Phoenix Sinclair inquiry:
- Jan. 28: Hold the fort
The inquiry is examining the circumstances around the death of five-year-old Sinclair. She was killed in 2005 on Fisher River First Nation. Her mother, Samantha Kematch, and her mother’s boyfriend, Karl McKay, were convicted of first-degree murder in her death.
Sinclair spent much of her short life in the care of several child and family services agencies, before she was beaten to death. Her death went undetected by workers for nine months.
Trigg said children were put at risk every day while she was CEO because of lack of training for staff and heavy workloads.
"Probably my number one concern — or among the top concerns — was training," said Trigg. "I don’t think they had adequate clinical training."
Trigg explained staff needed better training on how to do good assessments, how to incorporate events on a day-to-day basis, and what questions to those events might lead workers to ask.
In some cases, turnover was as high as 100 per cent in particular units, and only about 50 per cent of frontline workers had at least two years of experience.
The people that did stay weren’t happy, Trigg said.
"I was aware that there was some degree of cynicism among staff," said Trigg. "They weren’t entirely trusting if they made a mistake — if something bad happened, it would get the back-up support [and] retraining."
Commission Counsel Sherri Walsh asked Trigg if she was ever aware of children being put at risk because of high workloads.
"I would probably have to say yes," said Trigg.
When asked to elaborate, Trigg said, "I’m thinking, for example, of the Phoenix Sinclair case."
She later testified that there were many things she wanted to improve in the agency, but there was never enough time or money. Winnipeg CFS ran a deficit each year Trigg was at its helm.
The Phoenix Sinclair Inquiry is expected to sit again on Tuesday