EDMONTON, AB: All opposition parties agree that the panel framework presented by Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir will not achieve timely, meaningful change within the child intervention system and cannot be supported.
Recognizing that improving outcomes for children in care in Alberta is too urgent and critical, the Alberta Opposition Parties of Wildrose, Progressive Conservatives, Alberta Party and Liberals have joined together to present the terms of reference below that are essential for opposition members to participate.
The updated conditions are:
- Determine why recommendations from previous committees, round tables and panels haven’t been implemented to date
- Overseeing the implementation of past recommendations, including but not limited to the reports filed by the Child Intervention Oversight Committee and past reports by the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
- Determine the status of internal reviews of the 38 children in care who have died since May 2015
- Ensuring that the panel meetings will be held in public and on the record except when the committee decides a session should be held in camera when legislation prevents disclosure of personal information
- Committing to whistleblower protection being extended for all front line workers and managers who want to come forward
- Removing the Minister of Human Services as an ex-officio member so that he may testify and be questioned by the panel
- Offering the ability for opposition caucuses to name a substitute if a member cannot attend a panel meeting
Wildrose Leader Brian Jean:
“We have seen panels and reports gather dust for years. This is a real opportunity to provide important changes for our children in care system, but we need to get this right. The opposition parties in Alberta are unified in making real change in our system, and we trust the NDP will accept our conditions.”
Progressive Conservative Interim Leader Ric McIver:
“Each and every member of the Legislative Assembly is responsible for ensuring that the children in our care are protected. We cannot in good conscience go home and spend Christmas with our families without knowing that an open and transparent process has been established to address Alberta’s deeply flawed child intervention system. We urge the NDP to accept these conditions and move this process forward.”
Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark:
“The time for studies has passed, it’s time for action. Albertans want to know that real changes are being made to ensure all children in government care are safe. This panel should focus on ensuring the Serenitys in the system today are protected now and in the future. This issue transcends partisanship, and I ask the Minister to accept these good-faith changes.”
Liberal Party Leader David Swann:
“The parents, families and loved ones of children who’ve died in our care are not interested in yet another government document on how government has failed them – they want to know why nothing has been done about it. The opposition parties are united in our belief that this panel must be about implementing the solutions recommended in past reports.”
Audio from the press conference with leaders from the Wildrose, Progressive Conservatives, Alberta Party and Alberta Liberals can be found here.