Minister of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Stephanie Cadieux released the following statement in response to the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union’s (BCGEU) latest report entitled Closing the Circle:
“I want to thank the BCGEU for their focus on improving the lives of Aboriginal kids in care and those who receive services from the ministry. That said, I haven’t – nor has my ministry – heard directly from the BCGEU on these matters; we just received the report yesterday morning.
“I look forward to speaking with the union about this report and their observations. To be clear, though, any work we do together must involve Aboriginal and First Nations leaders, as they are key in helping us to develop culturally sensitive and appropriate policies and procedures for the ministry and for Delegated Aboriginal Agencies.
“The B.C. government recognizes the challenges that many of our First Nations and Aboriginal children, youth and families face. We will take the time we need as a ministry to review their recommendations from Closing the Circle in the context of the other work currently underway.
“For example, we recently appointed Grand Chief Ed John as senior advisor on Aboriginal child welfare. Working with Aboriginal leaders, he will help more Aboriginal children and youth secure a safe, caring, permanent family outside of government care.
“The Premier announced at the B.C. Cabinet and First Nations Leaders’ Gathering that the Province will host a children and families gathering. In addition, the ministry – in collaboration with Aboriginal partners – has developed a specialized Aboriginal policy and practice framework and is focusing on Aboriginal competency training for front-line staff.
“In February 2014, the ministry and the BCGEU formed a joint working group to exchange ideas about MCFD workloads, staffing and safety. We hope to build on this successful collaboration when we meet with the BCGEU to follow up on this report in the spirit of partnership and in the best interest of the children, youth and families who receive supports and services through the ministry.”