Liberals grill minister on Child and Youth Advocate report

James
James McLeod
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It was a subdued tone in the House of Assembly Tuesday afternoon, as Liberal House Leader Andrew Parsons spent the lion’s share of question period to voice the concerns raised in “Sixteen” — a scathing report by the province’s Child and Youth Advocate.

Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Paul Davis talks to the media Tuesday afternoon. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

In that report it states that just before the fire on Springdale Street, John was brought to the Janeway. He told them that he wanted to harm himself and that he was going to burn his house down,” Parsons said calmly in the House. “He was assessed for 12 minutes. He ended up burning down his house and a man died.

“I ask the minister: how can this happen?”

Child, Youth and Family Services Minister Paul Davis was fielding the questions in the House Tuesday, but he didn’t offer many answers.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Davis acknowledged the severity of the situation, and that there were failures in the system dealing with this youth.

The early morning fire in November of 2011 came after more than two years of trouble for the 16-year-old, and run-ins with the police, the health care system and the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS).

A man died in the fire.

The youth — who is named “John” for confidentiality purposes in the report — pleaded guilty of arson and manslaughter after the fire.

Child and Youth Advocate Carol Chafe describes a mess of disorganization and struggling front line workers in CYFS.

Davis said in 2011, when the fire happened, CYFS was in transition as it was coming into its own, after it was spun off from the health-care system and social services.

Responding to Parsons in the House, Davis focused on the work done since 2011, and a commitment to talk to Chafe about the 30 recommendations she makes in the report.

“This is a very important topic. This is a very important matter for the people of the province, and I can tell you it is very important for us as a government,” Davis said during question period. “Recommendations from the Child and Youth Advocate and having the relationship with the Child and Youth Advocate is important to us. I have had a meeting with her since I came in the department just a month or so ago and had an opportunity to discuss how she operates and how we operate.”

On Tuesday, Davis would not say whether the government will commit to taking action on all 30 recommendations, and at times he struggled to answer factual questions in the House of Assembly.

The back-and-forth between Parsons and Davis was subdued, without the heckling and theatre that normally comes with question period. For several minutes, Premier Kathy Dunderdale sat in her seat looking down, with her head in her hands.

The Liberals used their entire allotted time in question period — more than 20 minutes — to press the issue.

The NDP didn’t ask any questions about the Child and Youth Advocate’s report, and instead, Leader Lorraine Michael led off her time by asking about anti-replacement worker legislation in relation to the Labatt brewery strike.

Parsons said part of what’s so troubling for him is that the province already went through something similar with the Zachary Turner inquiry.

“They’re still making the same mistakes,” Parsons said. “The recommendations say it all. I mean, this was a colossal failure of government when it comes to this situation.”

 

 

Organizations: Youth and Family Services, Department of Child, House of Assembly.The Labatt

Geographic location: Springdale Street

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  • Graham Bursey
    December 04, 2013 - 09:49

    Its easier and easier to see every day why Dunderdale is constantly moving her cabinet ministers around so often. .LOST...CONFUSED....BEWILDERED Have to give her credit though she is n a daily basis getting much better at showing us just how LOST CONFUSED BEWILDERED she really is.

  • Graham Bursey
    December 04, 2013 - 09:48

    Its easier and easier to see every day why Dunderdale is constantly moving her cabinet ministers around so often. .LOST...CONFUSED....BEWILDERED Have to give her credit though she is n a daily basis getting much better at showing us just how LOST CONFUSED BEWILDERED she really is.

  • Graham Bursey
    December 04, 2013 - 09:47

    Its easier and easier to see every day why Dunderdale is constantly moving her cabinet ministers around so often. .LOST...CONFUSED....BEWILDERED Have to give her credit though she is n a daily basis getting much better at showing us just how LOST CONFUSED BEWILDERED she really is.

  • Graham Bursey
    December 04, 2013 - 09:46

    Its easier and easier to see every day why Dunderdale is constantly moving her cabinet ministers around so often. .LOST...CONFUSED....BEWILDERED Have to give her credit though she is n a daily basis getting much better at showing us just how LOST CONFUSED BEWILDERED she really is.

  • Geri
    December 04, 2013 - 07:26

    Why does it always take something tragic like this for changes to be made...whatever happened to being proactive to 'prevent' someone losing their life?? You government leaders are all the same when looking for votes...you are all making promises that YOU will do things differently and YOU will be a good leader....well guess what....there's been very little of that seen in my lifetime. Once elected everyone falls into the same old..same old. Will Premier Dunderdale please take responsibility for ensuring there are sufficient resources put in place to deal with our people who require the services to ensure the mental and physical heath of our citizens.... overall our health care system is currently failing our citizens, in all areas!

  • Charles
    December 04, 2013 - 06:15

    I know its Parsons job to ask question, But where is it written, the liberals can't give us their plans concerning matter like those.