Guiding the future of BC’s Representative for Children and Youth Act

Some of you may know that The Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth is reviewing our province’s Representative for Children and Youth Act. As part of this process, the committee has invited British Columbians to participate and make submissions to help guide the committee’s review.

The Federation clearly understands the importance of this legislation and we will definitely be making our own submission before the deadline of February 10, 2017.

The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth is charged with three major functions: advocacy, monitoring, and review of critical injuries or deaths of children. The Federation deeply and wholeheartedly values the work of the Representative’s Office and the intentions behind its existence.

There has been talk (most recently as part of last year’s Plecas Review) about potentially moving the monitoring portion of the Office’s work into the Ministry of Children and Family Development. This is one of the issues our submission will address.

In 2005, when Judge Hughes proposed the creation and function of what is now the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, it was with the idea that, one day, certain functions (like monitoring) could become part of the Ministry’s internal process. But now is not the time.

From our perspective, we see a Ministry struggling with an already great responsibility and a very limited budget. We see a Ministry with massive change ahead of it and adding to its mandate at this time would only make things more complicated. It’s probably best not to think about how such responsibility would further strain already-stretched services for children and families.

Until social care in BC is more highly valued and more appropriately funded, our province must continue to have an independent monitoring function. This is what our submission will argue—in addition to things like adding advocacy on behalf of young people over the age of 19 and expanding the scope to include other Ministries who serve young people.

We will circulate the content of our submission to members once it is finalized and we encourage you to make a submission of your own. If you have ideas or suggestions for The Federation’s submission, or if you want to talk further before preparing your own, please let us know. As always, we remain altogether better.