Embattled NDP minister Mitzi Dean leaves child welfare ministry

Mitzi Dean has been demoted from her new role as minister of state for childcare and Grace Lore will take on the child welfare portfolio.

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Mitzi Dean, British Columbia’s child and family development minister, has been demoted to minister of state for child care after her resignation was called for over her handling of a horrific case of abuse of two Indigenous children in foster care, one of which he died.

Grace Lore, who had been in charge of child care, will replace Dean in the difficult child welfare ministry.

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Prime Minister David Eby announced the mini cabinet change Monday morning. During a news conference in Vancouver, Eby said the decision represents a “significant reset” in the ministry.

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“I don’t think it will be a surprise to anyone to say that the ministry, and particularly the (child welfare) system in the province, has faced significant challenges in achieving our shared goal of ensuring that every child is cared for, the way they should be.” be,” Eby told reporters.

Dean has faced repeated calls from the First Nations Leadership Council and opposition MLAs to resign over his ministry’s handling of several child welfare cases, including the abuse of two children in foster homes near Chilliwack that left an 11-year-old boy dead and his eight 12-year-old sister seriously injured.

The boy died in March 2021, but the extent of the repeated abuse and torture of the two children did not come to light until last summer, when the adoptive parents were sentenced to 10 years for involuntary manslaughter and six for aggravated assault.

During the trial it was revealed that ministry social workers had not checked on the children for seven months, despite the ministry’s policy that welfare checks are carried out every three months.

BC Green MLA Adam Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation, had repeatedly called for Dean to resign and for the child welfare ministry to be “torn down brick by brick and rebuilt.”

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When asked by MPs and journalists for an explanation as to how things went so wrong, Dean repeated government talking points that frustrated First Nations leaders and the general public.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said in a statement in June that he was “very disappointed to see that (the children’s ministry) has not demonstrated any sincere steps toward accountability and prevention.” on a broader level” and called on Dean to “recognize the terrible severity of this failure by resigning immediately.”

Phillip told Postmedia on Monday that he feels “a great sense of relief that Minister Dean has been removed.”

“We now have a new opportunity to revitalize the ministry with respect to the many, many issues we have related to Indigenous children and their appropriate care,” he said.

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said on social media: “After years of calling for the NDP to fire Mitzi Dean for her continued failures as child and family development minister, this is a relief for vulnerable families and youth.” that she has finally been dismissed for her disastrous performance.”

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A top bureaucrat in the Ministry of Child and Family Development, Allison Bond, has been removed as deputy minister and will be replaced by David Galbraith, who was deputy minister in the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

Regarding Lore’s promotion, Eby said she brings experience managing child care records, a doctorate in gender studies and a “very sensitive and keen understanding of how systems and structures can impact the lived experience of women.” people in communities. “

Eby previously said Dean had her trust and on Monday expressed faith that she would be a “tireless champion” in expanding BC’s $10-a-day child care program.

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