Edmonton

Del Graff warns vulnerable children will suffer from cuts

Alberta’s child and youth advocate says budget cuts imposed on his office will hurt vulnerable children in the province.

Del Graff uncertain where extra $275,000 can be found in office budget

The order to cut $275,000 from his budget is a classic example of being asked to do more with less, says Del Graff, Alberta's child and youth advocate. (CBC)

Alberta’s child and youth advocate says budget cuts imposed on his office will hurt vulnerable children in the province.

“The delays in completing child death reviews results in delays in the recommendations that we can make for the system to learn from these reviews,” said Del Graff. “Those delays can be serious.”

The advocate investigates the deaths of children who are in the province's care or who are supported by the province. 

Graff pleaded with a committee of MLAs Tuesday to restore $275,000 sliced from his office’s budget in face of declining oil revenues.

The Tory-dominated committee denied the request, with MLA Genia Leskiw suggesting Graff needs to sharpen his pencil to find the money.

Tory MLA Richard Starke said Wednesday he doubts the funding cut will significantly affect the advocate's abilities.  

"First of all, I was not convinced that it would be that negatively impacted, and secondly, I was not convinced that the child and youth advocate's office had really done the amount of diligence required ... to find additional savings."

Graff, however, said his budgetary process is sound. 

“We have our budget and expenditures audited annually by the auditor general,” he said. “We present our budgets to the very committee that made its decision yesterday, so if they’re concerned about our budget — that’s new information to me.”

Last May the government expanded the responsibilities of the advocate’s office, effectively doubling the number of child death reviews that need to be done each year, Graff said.

In July, the committee agreed to increase Graff’s budget, “so there was acknowledgement that the additional work demanded additional resources,” he said.

“This is an absolute example to do more as a result of legislative amendment and then with the decision yesterday being provided with less resources to do it.”

Graff is worried they may have to reduce their workload.

“The very best we can do is delay some of investigations,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to be making decision about whether or not they’re ever done based on dollars.”

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