British Columbia has responded to the failures of the Ministry of Children and Family Development as outlined in the report Paige’s Story from the Representative for Children and Youth. Paige was a 19-year-old Aboriginal girl living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside when a drug overdose caused her death. “But it was actually years of abuse and neglect, persistent inaction from front-line professionals and an indifferent social care system that led to this young woman’s demise,” reads the preamble to the report.
B.C. has now announced it will initiate a new Rapid Response Team, a review of all MCFD-involved young people living on the Downtown Eastside and a service-provider awareness campaign as part of government’s operational response.
“The Paige report talks about systemic issues in the Downtown Eastside, which is why a fulsome response requires engagement from partners across the health, education, justice, Aboriginal and child and family-serving service sectors,” said Minister Stephanie Cadieux.
“There is a collective responsibility that needs to be reinvigorated, and the first and most important step is to bring together decision-makers who can collaborate to create solutions that might not yet exist within our system. That’s part of what we are doing with our rapid response team.”
B.C. says “real and meaningful change on a systemic scale” will be an “ongoing process” with the need to examine the province’s support for vulnerable young people “from the ground up.”
A Rapid Response Team will allow service providers to reach out and directly address the needs and safety of the highest-risk youth in the Downtown Eastside.
“I am buoyed to see that MCFD and government have begun to grapple with these important issues and that progress will be improved outcomes for these youth,” said Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, “far too many of whom are Aboriginal children who have endured incredible journeys of hardship and who deserve our full attention.”