New Democrat Social Services critic David Forbes said he wants to see immediate action from the government in response to the deficiencies within Social Services revealed by the coroner’s inquest into the homicide of six-year-old Lee Bonneau.
Forbes said he wants to see a plan to implement the recommendations, and a schedule to report publicly on progress.
Of 19 recommendations made by the coroner’s inquest jury Friday, all but five identify specific concerns at Social Services, with others calling for changes at the Yorkton Tribal Council Child and Family Services, which delivers care on behalf of Social Services. Some call for the cooperation of the RCMP. Some recommendations call for better use of processes already in place, while others indicate a need for more or better-used resources.
“We’re very thankful to the jury for their thoughtful and insightful recommendations,” said Forbes. “Some of these recommendations make it clear that the basics aren’t being managed in Social Services, But, it shouldn’t take the horrific homicide of a child in care, and a coroner’s inquest, for the Sask. Party government to realize that follow up on parental services agreements is necessary, or that rural offices need enough resources to handle the number of children who need their care, for example.”
The Opposition New Democrats have raised concerns about caseloads for Child and Family Services workers. Between 2010 and 2013, 81 children receiving care from Social Services died of causes classified as not natural. That includes 10 children’s deaths classified as homicides.
Forbes said the Opposition supports the recommendations of the jury that served in the Bonneau inquest, and wants an aggressive schedule to implement them made public immediately.
“Child protection can’t continue to operate understaffed and with little accountability,” said Forbes. “We all share an interest in the well-being of children who are in the care of our province.
“This is a government prone to throw up defenses and excuses when criticized, and to slow walk desperately needed action plans. That’s of no help to all the children in care. We need real action and we need it now.”