Minister says agencies working together on youth services – By Ray Hudson

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Stephanie Cadieux

Report calls or comprehensive system of substance use services

Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children & Family
Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children & Family

Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children & Family Development, responded to the report from BC’s Representative of Children & Youth on the call for a “comprehensive system of substance use services to meet the diverse needs of youth and their families.” in a report into the death of fifteen-year-old boy in the Campbell River treatment centre in April of 2015.

Deputy Youth Representative Dawn Thomas-Wightman, is quoted as saying that they’d heard about and reported on too many cases where youth did not receive substance use services that matched their needs, some with tragic consequences.

In a response to the report, Children & Family Development Minister, Stephanie Cadieux said “The circumstances around this young man’s death have been reviewed by three separate agencies: the community agency he was being served by in his final days, the Coroner’s Service and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, through the work of a contracted external expert.”

She said they appreciated the additional perspective offered by Representative’s report saying much of the recommended work extends across a number of ministries prompting

Premier Clark to convene a cross-ministry cabinet working group on mental health to identify and address gaps in the system and ensure young people have access to support services before they find themselves in crisis. Currently they are in process of developing an integrated cross government mental health and substance abuse strategy.

“We offer a multitude of services and we’re looking at what more we can do,” said Cadieux. “There are currently 203 beds available in BC, specifically for children and youth with substance abuse challenges. Seventy-eight are acute, ten specialized beds will be opening at each of the Hope Centre and Surrey Memorial Hospital in 2017.

Cadieux said there are 103 community-based beds specifically for substance abuse treatment including the 22 that are opening at the Crossing in Keremeos next year, 22 beds funded by the Ministry through the full-time attendance programs for youth offenders with addiction issues, and we are re-profiling some of the programming in that area, specifically to add 6 additional beds for Vancouver Island because we have identified that as a need.”

Minister Cadieux said the policy has been improved to ensure sentencing recommendations are addressed, decisions around interventions for youth-justice clients are thoroughly informed and all options are considered. Youth probation officers are now required to review police reports with Crown counsel so they can better understand the nature of the offense committed.

“We also now require that youth probation officers discuss any breach of bail conditions with the youth and the parents and consider any needed changes to the youth’s service plan,” said the Minister. “Further, we are providing compulsory training to youth probation officers to deal with youth who have concurrent disorders, and training on recognizing the signs and symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.”

“Ultimately, it is incumbent on us to learn from the lessons of this young man’s life,” said Cadieux. “That is what this government is doing and we now have the benefit of four separate reviews to help guide that ongoing work.”