Victoria: The latest report from B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth is a stunning condemnation of Christy Clark’s failure to protect our most vulnerable children, says B.C. New Democrat Leader John Horgan.
The report examined the tragic life and death of Alex Gervais – a foster child who took his life after having been left alone in an Abbotsford hotel by contractors.
“Christy Clark and her minister missed an opportunity to create a safe and caring home for Alex,” said Horgan. “Alex needed their help and Alex begged for their help.
“There are no excuses for this. Christy Clark has replaced safe, well-trained caregivers with for-profit contractors, and it’s not working. The most vulnerable youth in care are paying the price.”
Horgan said that government spending on child protection and care is not showing up on the front lines.
“It’s like Christy Clark’s government has washed its hands of the responsibility for these kids, and we can’t do that,” said Horgan. “The lesson here is that we need to invest in protection and care at the right time, with the right resources. If we do that, we’ll save lives.”
According to the report, Alex spent 11 years in government care, had 17 placements, and 23 different social workers and care givers. He was repeatedly traumatized, left without adequate supervision and food.
During his time in his final placement before the hotel, he was sexually assaulted twice, once by a contractor who plied him with narcotics. In his final days he was all but abandoned in a hotel room. The report details how his pleas for help were ignored.
Although family members wanted to take him in, the Christy Clark government refused to make it happen.
“Alex deserved a chance to live with his family. The chance to have the kindness and stability in his life that is the right of every child,” said New Democrat children and families spokesperson Melanie Mark. “Christy Clark denied Alex of this chance because Alex’s life wasn’t her priority.”
During the last 10 days of his life, Alex was living in a hotel, alone. The contractor who was being paid more than $9,000 a month to care for and supervise him had not shown up for 10 days.
“Alex should have never been in a hotel and he should never have been alone. He should have been in a home with loving supportive adults,” said Mark.
“It’s not enough for Christy Clark and her minister to say that they will do better. We heard this broken record, years before Alex died. And it got worse. Whose name will we say next?
“It’s clear nothing will change for foster kids in B.C. until the government does.”