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

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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Paul Lewis is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Arts Advocate of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
West Shore driftwood sculptor inspired by Esquimalt Lagoon

Paul Lewis is the 2021 Arts Advocate of the Year

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Cathy Armstrong, executive director of the Land Conservancy, Paul Nursey CEO of Destination Greater Victoria and Saanich Coun. Susan Brice helped to kick off the annual Greater Victoria Flower Count at Abkhazi Garden Monday. This year, the flower count is less about rubbing the region’s weather in the rest of Canada’ faces, and more about extending a bouquet of compassion and love. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
2021 Greater Victoria Flower Count sows seeds of compassion

Friendly flower count competition runs from March 3 to 10

Robert Schram, here seen in January 2016, died Saturday, according to a friend. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Most Read