British Columbia

B.C. urgently needs secure care laws for at risk youth, children's representative says

B.C.'s children's representative is calling on the province to urgently consider a law allowing youth to be involuntarily placed in a facility for their short-term safety.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond draws parallels with earlier tragedy in new report

Paige, 19, died of a drug overdose after a troubled life on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. (B.C. Children's and Youth Representative)

British Columbia's representative for children and youth is calling on the province to urgently consider a law allowing youth to be involuntarily placed in a facility for their short-term safety.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond made the recommendation Thursday in a special report on the multiple critical injuries and one near-fatal incident suffered by a youth in the child-welfare system.

Turpel-Lafond has withheld many of the details about the youth in the public version of the report, an unprecedented step that she said was necessary to protect the vulnerable young person.

She draws parallels between the youth and Paige, a 19-year-old whose drug overdose death Turpel-Lafond has blamed on social workers' "professional indifference" toward aboriginal teens.

But unlike Paige, the youth had periods of incarceration in youth justice facilities, which Turpel-Lafond says was done not as a punishment but to remove the person from risky situations.

She says seven other provinces have so-called secure care laws that allow for the involuntary placement of youth in a facility to address mental health challenges and substance abuse, while simultaneously protecting their safety.

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