Early this week, Ian Wishart, Opposition Family Services Critic, exposed a close to 700 per cent increase in the diverting of emergency after-hours child welfare calls to a private out-of-province answering service. Under sustained pressure, the NDP was forced to admit the after-hours emergency telephone line for vulnerable youth had been understaffed.
“Sadly, this minister only takes action when her incompetence and mismanagement are exposed,” said Wishart. “Only when our team exposed the issue did the minister do something about the cause of this staggering increase, and restore previously reduced frontline staff positions.”
When Wishart brought the issue to light earlier this week, Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross denied there was any problem. She continued to deflect and dismiss the issue late Wednesday, while suddenly announcing new staffing increases at the end of a media scrum. “What we have decided to do, in partnership with ANCR, is hire more staff,” Irvin-Ross said. ANCR (All Nations Co-ordinated Response Network) is responsible for hiring the answering service known as TigerTel.
Emergency after-hours calls are only diverted to the out-of-province answering service if staff are not available. Documents obtained show as frontline after-hours staff were reduced the total average minutes per month increased from 152 in 2011/12 to 310 for 2012/2013 to 790 for 2013/2014 and finally, to 1,162 for 2014/2015.
NDP waste is threatening essential frontline services. Only when exposed for her mismanagement and under sustained pressure by Wishart did Irvin-Ross commit to restoring frontline staff at the after-hours program to 2012/13 levels.
Is it any wonder experts from around Canada including the B.C. Children and Youth Representative, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, have asked, “Does she even know what's going on in her own province?"