After ten years on the job, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is done today as BC’s Representative for Children and Youth.
Over the past decade her office has filed 87 public reports which included 189 recommendations for government. The office has advocated in 16,209 individual cases since 2006.
“It’s not just budgets, it’s not just metrics, it’s not just 200 communications people in government getting the message out every single day, that particular politicized message, it’s really about meeting the needs of a group of citizens.” Turpel-Lafond told the Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth this morning.
During her tenure, which is capped at ten years under legislation, the RCY also received 2,591 reports of serious injury and 903 deaths. Turpel-Lafond says those numbers show that some youth still fall through the cracks, even when the RCY shines a spotlight on a situation through a report.
“To get those supports on the ground can take time, and there are still young people there.”
A recurring recommendation from the RCY was the need for ‘secure care’ which would be able to hold youth against their will for a short period of time. Turpel-Lafond says she has asked the province to take a hard look at creating such a system six times, with only “nominal” work done of the file by the province.
“The secure care issue is really so you can address urgent safety and therapeutic care issues especially where there is major, I say behavioural challenges – I don’t want to label kids as behaviorally challenged, so much as the sudden impact of drug use.”
Right now the only options for parents are the youth criminal justice system and psychiatric care, both of which carry heavy stigma and challenges.
But perhaps most notably, in her final annual report today, Turpel-Lafond said that Minister of Children and Youth Stephanie Cadieux has not met with RCY staff in over a year.
A replacement for Turpel-Lafond has not been found yet.