Child advocate says protection system failing

Computer network crashes again after cabinet ministers said it was fixed; advocate says domestic violence reports getting lost

Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond

VICTORIA – B.C. government officials say the latest problems in their new computer system for child protection files are being fixed after a week of disruptions, but the province’s independent child advocate says she’s heard that before.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond told a committee of MLAs Wednesday that the Integrated Case Management (ICM) computer system hasn’t worked consistently since it was put in place two years ago. The system records information for social workers on threats to children, court protection orders and general information on social assistance and children in government care.

The latest failure may have left safety warnings unrecorded, and social workers could be entering a home without knowing if there are weapons or other threats, Turpel-Lafond said. She called for an independent review of the $180 million computer system to see if it is adequate.

“They launched this, and it didn’t work,” Turpel-Lafond said. “It couldn’t print a report for court for six months. Furthermore, it has been launched in other jurisdictions and failed. The same product was used in Australia and didn’t work.”

Citizens’ Services Minister Andrew Wilkinson assured reporters Wednesday that the ICM system had been restored to full operation. That changed by the afternoon question period, when NDP critic Carole James said calls were still coming in about system failures. Wilkinson said the system was being “rebooted” again after another crash.

Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said social workers have backup protocols when the computer system is down for power failures or other emergencies. They take reports on paper and phone urgent information to other offices, as they do when ministry offices are closed, Cadieux said.

Social Development Minister Don McRae said regular social assistance payments were processed normally on April 24, and his ministry staff have the ability to issue emergency assistance payments as needed by issuing paper cheques.

Turpel-Lafond said she had a call in the past week from a father of three young children who couldn’t get a payment because no one in the office knew how to issue a cheque. And she said the loss of domestic violence warnings for social workers and police is an ongoing problem.

“Everybody who works in the child welfare safety system knows that you need to keep good identifying information about the adults in a child’s life,” Turpel-Lafond said.

James said there have also been reports that emergency meal vouchers and grocery cards were not available from social assistance offices due to recent problems with the ICM system.

 

Just Posted

Endoscopy Campaign wraps up at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

The KBRH Health Foundation recently held a donor ceremony for contributors to its $450,000 tally

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Passion for the fiddle keeps Kootenay culture alive

Proceeds from the Calvin Vollrath show in Trail will help support the 2019 Kootenay fiddle camp

Nelson police find $16K worth of suspected fentanyl, meth in minivan

Two people face charges of possession and trafficking in a controlled substance

COLUMN: Meet Todd Coyne, our new editor

Todd Coyne takes charge of five Black Press newspapers in the West Kootenay

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Workers at BC Interior mill strike as negotiations resume in Kelowna

Picket lines went up at 4 a.m Tuesday, Oct. 16 at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake

Toronto Police ID B.C. man as naked shark tank jumper

David Weaver, of Nelson, is wanted on mischief and assault charges

In Florida, families seeking the missing amid storm damage

Five days after the hurricane slammed into the Florida Panhandle, people are struggling to locate friends and loved ones.

Prince Harry and Meghan start Aussie tour with baby gifts

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on a 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

EU’s Barnier hopes Brexit deal possible in ‘coming weeks’

Britain is set to leave the European Union in March, but a Brexit agreement must be sealed in coming weeks to leave enough time for relevant parliaments to ratify it.

Earth samples show dust from B.C. pipeline blast not a health threat: Enbridge

Enbridge says earth sampling shows mineral and metal composition is well below provincial and federal standards for urban and residential areas.

Postal services ready for looming wave of legal cannabis deliveries

Legal cannabis is set to usher in a wave of high-value, age-restricted parcels in the mail system, and delivery companies say they’re ready.

Mega Millions prize of $654M is nation’s 4th-largest

No one has won the U.S. jackpot in almost three months

Most Read