Child and Youth Advocate Carol Chafe speaks at a news conference Monday announcing her office will conduct an investigation into services provided to a 16-year-old male arrested in connection with a fatal fire last month. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram
The province’s child and youth advocate will look into issues around a fatal fire last month on Springdale Street, allegedly set by a 16-year-old.
The mother of the youth said she’s gratified the investigation is happening, but doesn’t believe it will do any good for her son.
“If they come up and admit that they failed, then they failed. But that won’t make any difference to the amount of time my son is going to get in prison,” she said. “If he had to get the help and support that he needed when we begged for it, he wouldn’t have been down there and this whole situation wouldn’t have happened.”
On Nov. 27, a boarding house on Springdale Street burned down, killing a 54-year-old man.
The 16-year-old male has been charged with manslaughter and arson in connection with the fire.
But his mother told The Telegram she tried to get her son help, but the system failed her. She said her son was suicidal, and addicted to drugs and alcohol.
She said twice in two days he was seen by psychiatrists and, despite making suicidal statements, he was deemed not to be a threat to himself.
“My son was in need of protective intervention,” she said. “I was screaming and jumping up and down raising the alarm.”
Carol Chafe, the child and youth advocate, said she will look into all aspects of the 16-year-old’s situation, although she won’t investigate the fire.
Chafe said it’s impossible to put a time frame on this sort of thing, because once you start investigating, you can uncover things that take time to pursue, and you can never be sure what you’ll find.
However, she specifically said she would be looking into the Department of Justice, Department of Health, Department of Child, Youth and Family Services and Eastern Health.
“Naturally, the focus of this investigation is this particular case, but as I’ve said earlier, once you start an investigation, that brings forward a lot more investigation and often we have to seek more documents, more investigation,” Chafe said. “This is a major priority for the office.”
For the mother though, her only consolation is that someone else seems to be taking her seriously.
“I guess I just finally felt that someone else in this world thought there was something wrong, other than me.” she said. “It’s almost like my mouth was open but no one was hearing me.”