British Columbia

B.C. appoints child welfare director

B.C.'s children's watchdog has welcomed the government's appointment Thursday of a new director for child welfare.

B.C.'s children's watchdog has welcomed the government's appointment Thursday of a new director for child welfare.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the provincial representative for children and youth, has called several times for the reinstatement of a provincial director to provide more accountability for infant deaths.

Turpel-Lafond said the appointment of Doug Hughes, an assistant deputy minister in the Ministry of Children and Family, is a step in the right direction.

"It certainly will make the work of ensuring that there's consistent and good practise and accountability for vulnerable children in care," Turpel-Lafond said. "It will improve that system and it will allow for, I think, better reporting out to the public on how the ministry is performing its critical role.

"There's quite a bit more yet to be done, but we need to definitely recognize that this is a positive move."

Minister of Children and Family Development Mary McNeil announced Hughes's appointment Thursday.

"It was determined that this would strengthen accountability and ensure consistent child welfare practice across the province," McNeil said.

The position was axed in 2008 and replaced by five existing regional directors and a director responsible for aboriginal issues.

"The provincial director will work with the regional directors as a "central point of contact and accountability," McNeil said.

Among other recommendations, Turpel-Lafond had called for a provincial director in her January report into the deaths of 21 infants in B.C., in which she said she demanded the government fix the family support system and address child poverty.

"It's a really significant point of responsibility," she said. "At headquarters, that can make sure that standards are being followed, that there's compliance place to place."

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