P.E.I. acts on mother-son murder-suicide inquest recommendations
But critics want to see a child advocate in place for P.E.I. — the only province without one
The province is moving forward with some of the recommendations made at a coroner's inquest into the murder-suicide of four-year-old Nash Campbell and his mother Patricia Hennessey, says P.E.I. Premier and Attorney General Wade MacLauchlan.
Campbell and Hennessy died in a vehicle fire near Tignish on June 21, 2013. Their deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.
In March of this year, the jury looking into the case made 15 recommendations for changes to the way the province handles high-risk child custody cases.
- Patricia Hennessey, Nash Campbell inquest yields 15 recommendations
- Premier promises action in light of murder-suicide of mother, 4-year-old son
On Thursday, MacLauchlan announced in the P.E.I. Legislature one of the most important measures being introduced is a new hub model where four government departments — justice, education, health and social services — will work together in cases where there is family conflict and where a child could be at risk.
During the inquest, various witnesses voiced concerns that important information wasn't shared between government agencies.
"Cases can be identified and addressed and dealt with by the right people in the system in a proactive way so that we don't get into any other tragic situation," said MacLauchlan.
The province is also developing a supervised service to help transfer children between parents in high-risk situations. During the inquest the jury heard the transfer of Nash was a major source of conflict between his parents.
'We need a child advocate'
MacLauchlan also said an international domestic violence expert will be brought in to provide training on how to identify risk factors and prevent future, similar tragedies.
"These are actions that are being taken right now to protect vulnerable children who are involved in high-risk families," said MacLauchlan.
But the Opposition expressed concern in the legislature Thursday that the province did not move forward on the recommendation to have a child advocate.
P.E.I. is the only province without one.
"We need a child advocate. We need a child advocate now," said James Aylward, Opposition family and human services critic.
"There's serious situations still evolving out there in the communities involving innocent children, families, parents. Doing the best with what we have is not enough."
But MacLauchlan said other measures in the plan will achieve the same end. The chief health officer will have new responsibilities to monitor and report on the well-being of children in high-risk situations to ensure they are protected.
MacLauchlan said the family law program will also be expanded to provide legal and clinical intervention for children and families in high-risk cases.
"We believe this collaborative approach is better suited to our Prince Edward Island context and will provide more immediate benefits, than would come through the creation of a new office of child and youth advocate."