This is page numbers 5333 - 5364 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was services. View the webstream of the day's session.

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Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

March 11th, 2019

Page 5346

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Chair, I move that this Assembly recommends that the Department of Health and Social Services incorporate into its quality improvement plan for child and family services a clear commitment to complete the assessment of financial and human resources required to deliver child and family services, as recommended by the Auditor General of Canada; and further, that this assessment incorporate gender-based analysis, example, via the Gender-Based Analysis Plus tool; and furthermore, that the department share with the committee its project plan for this work, developing subsequent timelines in discussion with the committee; and furthermore, that the quality improvement plan for child and family services be revised and re-released to reflect this assessment upon its completion. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion. Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. This is kind of a long-standing issue that has been raised by previous reviews of child and family services. The Child Welfare League was asked to do some work on this in the past, after the last Auditor General report. It stubbornly remains a stumbling block to really understanding how to solve some of the deficiencies within the provision of child and family services. The 2019-2020 budget, there is $3.5 million additional. My concern at the time and it continues to be a concern is: we know that money can be used, but we don't know how effective it will be.

I have heard many of my colleagues opposite say time and time again that more money does not necessarily solve problems. Committee couldn't agree more, which is why this recommendation calls for a clear assessment of the financial and human resources required. I know that that is not an easy subject matter. This is an issue across Canada. There is no hard-and-fast, scientific-based formula on what is perfect. We have to do something. We have to do something that is more than what we are doing now.

Further, we have made the recommendation to incorporate gender-based analysis. We feel that is an important consideration to make in the provision of these services and that it needs to be a part of the government's work.

Finally, whatever work comes out of this assessment, that it re-evaluate the plan as a result of that. We feel very strongly as a committee that this action plan must address this issue, because it is not the first time it has been raised. If we are ever to understand what the system actually needs to operate as effectively and efficiently as it needs to ensure the protection of children in care, this assessment is absolutely required.

I hope that the government will meaningfully accept this recommendation and do the work that is being asked of them and that, ultimately, the quality improvement plan will reflect this in its final version. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion. Ms. Green.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is hard to overstate the importance of this motion. It is the key motion of all that have been made here. It builds, as my colleague said, on a request that goes back almost 20 years to try to quantify caseloads and workloads for people providing services to families and children who are in care. It is important not only that the government use this information to catch the system up to where it should be now to provide the full range of services, but also there is a plan that will guide the government into the future about the resources that are required. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that this work, although often attempted and incomplete, this time be completed and reported on. Thank you.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Thank you, Ms. Green. To the motion. Minister Abernethy.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The department has reviewed the recommendation, and we agree with the OAG as well as the committee that addressing workload capacity within the CFS system is critical, absolutely critical, in ensuring the delivery of appropriate services to children and families. The department has recognized capacity challenges related to workload and caseload issues in the regions. In February 2019, just a few weeks ago, the Minister of Finance released the proposed budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which, as the Member indicated, included $3.3 million investment to add 21 new positions to support child and family services.

Mr. Chair, let's be clear. We know that we need to make sure that we have the staff we need to meet children and family services' needs now, but also into the future. We are taking actions to strengthen the recruitment and retention and development of CFS staff across the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Chair, the department absolutely recognizes the need to conduct the assessment. This is absolutely reflected in action items 1.9 and 1.10 of the Quality Improvement Plan. The department will incorporate the Gender-Based Analysis Plus tool. Staff are currently taking the Gender-Based Analysis Plus course to determine how this type of analysis will impact the assessment of human and financial resources for a child and family services system.

Based on this additional requirement, the department will be extending the deadline for this deliverable to June 15, 2019, giving us a bit more time to do that work. The department absolutely agrees to share its project plan for this work with committee and share a revised quality improvement plan based not only on this recommendation, but all the recommendations. We will certainly get that to committee as soon as we can, recognizing it does take us a bit of time to incorporate the recommendations that have been identified. We agree with this recommendation in principle, and we are going to do the work. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Thank you, Minister Abernethy. To the motion.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Motion 104-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Assessment of Financial and Human Resources, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Question has been called. All in favour? Against? Abstentions? Motion carried.

---Carried

Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 105-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Caseload Standards for Child Protection Workers, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Chair, I move that this Assembly recommends that the Department of Health and Social Services develop and implement caseload standards for child protection workers by June 30, 2019. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 105-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Caseload Standards for Child Protection Workers, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion. Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 105-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Caseload Standards for Child Protection Workers, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Similar to the last, this is a long-standing issue that has only been partially completed in previous responses to these findings. It is crucial that we have a better understanding of how many cases an individual child protection worker should be undertaking and what capacity looks like in a very high-stress, demanding job and what the supports look like, as well. We can't just get to the resourcing question without identifying a standard for caseload.

This is such a crucial, long-standing issue that the committee has placed a firm date in this recommendation. The committee's expectation is that, should this motion carry, the government will follow suit and deliver this new standard by June 30th and, at the very least, respond to our concerns sooner than that if they cannot meet that deadline. It is crucially important that caseload standards be developed and implemented for child protection workers. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 105-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Caseload Standards for Child Protection Workers, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

The Chair Tom Beaulieu

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion. Minister Abernethy.

Committee Motion 105-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the 2018 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories (Child and Family Services) - Caseload Standards for Child Protection Workers, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 5346

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chair. This is one of the recommendations that we agree on in principle, as opposed to accept. As outlined in the response to the Auditor General, the department does plan on actually developing the caseload standards for child protection workers; however, the deadline of June 30, 2019, would be premature to establish the standards. This is based on a number of things, but specifically, as we move forward and look at new resources that we roll over the next three years, the department is also going to test proposed caseload standards to ensure that they're appropriate.

I mean we can put in a standard which is an academic exercise, but until we test it, to make sure that it's exactly right and does take into consideration that we're not just going to be providing services with one type of professional child and family services worker, we are looking at family preservation workers, we are looking at other support-type positions. There would be a variety of types of positions. It's not going to be just having one type of position doing this work. It's a little premature to come up with a solid and fast standard. We believe we need some time to test, monitor, evaluate, and evolve the standard, recognizing the range of types of positions that we would be looking at.

Although we agree that this needs to be done, and we're going to do it, we're not confident that we can give committee a hard and fast, this will be the plan forever, caseload number on June 30th. We are going to take more time. We need more time. I do accept there is urgency. I do accept that this is something that needs to be a priority, and it is. The timeline that's provided, we don't feel that we'll be able to do it and get it right, so we're going to take more time. Thank you, Mr. Chair.