Yesterday B.C.’s children’s watchdog, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, released a damning report of the provinces Ministry of Children and Family Development in spending close to $66 million over the last dozen years on “big, blue sky initiatives” for aboriginal youth. Yet she pointed out that there was not a single piece of evidence that the money actually went to services for aboriginal youth.
“So what was the money spent on? A lot of talk, planning, meetings, consultants…” she went to say that all this talk produced “materials of questionable practical value.” While the ministry did spend 31 million towards transferring authority of child welfare services to individual First Nations communities, which is a good policy, the report concluded that the money was once again spent on more “talking”.
This report highlights the issue that often surrounds both the federal and provincial levels of governments handling of providing social services to First Nations. While these “big, blue sky initiatives” sound good on paper in the departmental office that is about as far as the dollars make it and First Nations youth must pay the price in this case.
Allocation of funds would be better spent by directing them straight to First Nations communities themselves and the department helping in a collaborative role of building the capacity of these services on the communities. Capacity building is key in this and as the report points out the department needs to “end the dream of having someone else to do the job for them” which in this case ended in the form of taxpayer funded “talking”.