(YELLOWKNIFE) Tuesday, April 29, 2014 – A searing report by the Office of the Auditor General has shed light on the dismal state of child and family services in the Northwest Territories. The Standing Committee on Government Operations is determined to see dramatic improvements in the delivery of these services.
According to Michael Nadli, Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations, “we’re at a critical juncture. The system is broken. Accountability is very weak. Workers in the field aren’t being properly trained or supervised. Child protection workers aren’t assessing long-term risks of abuse and neglect. The situation is unacceptable. And the really heartbreaking part is that the Department has known about the systemic problems for years.”
The Standing Committee on Government Operations reviewed the report with Assistant Auditor General Mr. Ronnie Campbell and top officials from the Department of Health and Social Services at a special meeting held April 23-24, 2014. During the proceedings, Deputy Minister Debbie DeLancey conceded there has been substantial failure in the delivery of child and family services.
The report of the Auditor General states that many of the problems outlined in the report are clearly within the Department’s control to address.
The Committee will be closely observing the Department’s next moves. Few improvements were made to the system following several earlier reports, including the Standing Committee on Social Programs’ 2010 review of the Child and Family Services Act. “We’re concerned that this report will have the same fate as the others,” Mr. Nadli stated.
In response to the Auditor General’s recommendations, the Department has promised to produce a comprehensive action plan by the end of June, 2014, to conduct quarterly compliance audits on the regional authorities, and to develop system-wide performance indicators.
Wendy Bisaro, Deputy Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations, stated, “we are going to recommend that future contribution agreements with the regional authorities have a performance component. Funding should be conditional on the authorities demonstrating compliance with the Act.”
The Standing Committee looks forward to further public dialogue with the Honourable Glen Abernethy, Minister of Health and Social Services, and is preparing a response to the Auditor General’s report to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly during the May/June sitting.
For more information, contact:
Michael Nadli, Chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations
MLA Deh Cho
Legislative Assembly of the NWT