Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost said the report ‘speaks to an institution in crisis and of what can happen when things go wrong.’ (CBC) Yukon’s social services minister has publicly apologized for how youth have been treated at territorial group homes, and described an "institution in crisis" that needs significant change.
"I’m here today to apologize and say under our government, the days of overcrowded group homes in Yukon are over," Minister Pauline Frost said Thursday morning, as the government released the findings of an independent review of the homes.
"To the youth who were mistreated, I apologize. The government of Yukon was responsible for you and we let you down."
Frost ordered the review last spring , in the wake of CBC reports detailing allegations of mistreatment and violence at the government-run facilities.
The investigation, by B.C.-based labour and employment lawyer Pam Costanzo, supported some of the allegations and found that in at least one case, department staff’s mistreatment of a youth was "in breach of law and HSS [Health and Social Services] policy."
In another case, the director of the department was found to have failed to properly investigate an allegation of mistreatment, also "in breach of HSS policy."
Costanzo did not, however, find that department managers covered up or ignored complaints about how youth were treated.
Still, Frost said the report "speaks to an institution in crisis and of what can happen when things go wrong." Yukon government officials released a report on Thursday based on an independent investigation into the territory’s youth group homes. The investigation was ordered last spring in the wake of CBC reports detailing allegations of mistreatment of youth. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada) "These incidents occurred during a breaking point in a system that has been fundamentally flawed for decades," she said. "Today, I also take responsibility for the way allegations were handled by senior management within the department.
"It was absolutely unacceptable."
Frost said that department managers and staff are "being held to account" for mistakes, and that staff members responsible for the problems no longer work for government.
The government confirmed that the former assistant deputy minister for the department, Brenda Lee Doyle, resigned but it’s not clear whether anybody else at the department has lost their job over the allegations. The government also would not say whether any staff had been disciplined, or explain exactly how employees were being "held to account." 6 recommendations already ‘actioned,’ gov’t says
Costanzo’s report includes six recommendations for government, based on her findings: HSS seek legal advice and consider apologizing to a youth for a public misstatement;
Review one of the supported allegations, to identify systemic issues that may need attention;
Training for workers to better understand complaints processes and their obligation to inform youth of their rights;
Seek reconciliation and reparation with a youth, by documenting their experiences;
Change how documents related to youth in care are kept; and Change reporting structures to clarify authority. Health and Social Services deputy minister Stephen Samis said Thursday that all six recommendations have already been "actioned." Stephen Samis, Yukon’s deputy minister of health and social services, says the government is committed to improving the system. (CBC) "Health and Social Services is committed to both ensuring these specific recommendations have been completed, as well as a variety of other measures that will result in improved services," he said."This is the minister’s commitment, it is my commitment as the deputy."Frost said the government is "charting a new future" by working to reduce the number of youth who come into government care, and by helping youth in care better transition into adult life.She says the government must continue […]
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