Lawyer blasts government over child deaths

The Telegram
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A story broken by CBC-TV this week has raised the ire of a well-known St. John’s lawyer.

St. John's lawyer Bob Buckingham. — Telegram file photo

It was revealed this week that since the 2009 formation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) department, 26 children under the province’s care have died. Only six of those deaths was known to the child and youth advocate.

Bob Buckingham has represented individuals in cases involving protective services and CYFS. The revelation of the number of deaths speaks to systematic problems, Buckingham said in a news release on Friday.

“Who advised the Child Advocate’s office of the six cases she was aware of? Was it CYFS? Was it the deceased childrens’ families? Was it the childrens’ lawyers? Was it the medical examiner,” Buckingham wrote in his release.

While it is perplexing the advocate didn’t know about all the deaths, Buckingham also says it’s too late when a child dies or is abused anyway.

“The Child, Youth and Family Services department operates as an unregulated fiefdom, in my opinion,” said Buckingham.

“The problems are systemic. One has but to look at the disturbing historical trends in this province related to child protection including the government turning its back on the horrendous abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage, Pleasantville and Whitbourne facilities, the lack of services provided to young teenagers at the Janeway psychiatric unit and the policies and procedures which failed to prevent the death of Zachary Turner,” said Buckingham.

The responsibility to protect children that come under its care is not being met by government, he continued.

The Telegram contacted the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, but they were not able to respond to the questions raised by Buckingham’s release before the newspapers’ deadline.

Organizations: Youth and Family Services department, CYFS, Newfoundland and Labrador Child Department of Child

Geographic location: Whitbourne

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Recent comments

  • upsetting
    August 23, 2014 - 09:02

    I find it troubling that any issues of concern regarding children in the province's care are not reported to the advocate's office. Why not? Simply because our government has lost their way. The people of this province are in a continual struggle to hang on to their constitutional rights, cannot get the justice department to respond to any complaints or can't get the results of our complaints relayed to us as bill 29 is always quoted, we have an environmental mess with garbage from the aquaculture industry with debris strewn all over the coast, wild species and other industries negatively affected by the mess, and the only attention we can get is when someone throws a used sofa off to the side on the Avalon, roads in parts of the province ie the coast of bays is like a third world country, etc;etc; This government fights us on every common sense concern we have and even the well being of children. Some of the Ministers and MHAs of this present day government have come from good families with good values, but what in the heck has happened to them? Clyde Jackman, did nothing for the children, Darin King has looked down on us like we are criminals, and a stupid lot and has scolded us like bad kids, Dunderdale would have let the people freeze before helping to deal with power outages in the middle of the winter, Macgrath is following right along, hell what do their families think of these people who have failed us so poorly?, especially the foster children who needs them most. In a few years to come when government is forced to disclose some of the secrets they have been keeping from us, I get a feeling we are going to wonder how we, especially the children survived some of the tactics several of these ministers have imposed on us. You wonder why Tom Marshall wants out...well I would not want to lead a group of people that have lost their way so badly. Someday these so called leaders are going to be one of us, the ordinary tax payer and they may need help. For goodness sake, at least keep the children safe, and just leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves if that is what it takes. If some of these Ministers were my own children, I would not vote for them.