Friday, August 21, 2009

The Minster stops by for a visit

With her Ministry under the microscope over recent announcements of staffing shifts, The Minister for Children and Family Development, Mary Polak put Prince Rupert on her travel itinerary last week, stopping in for a coffee and maybe a burger at the Northwest Inter Nation Family and Community services barbecue on July 24.

Minister Polak outlined how it is her belief that the BCGEU with their their commentary on the issues of last week, muddied the issue of recent staff shifts.
At that time, the issue of layoffs proved to be a hot button discussion point as the union outlined its concerns with the Ministry direction, while Minister Polak suggested that they were commenting before all the relevant information was provided.

She detailed the latest staffing changes for the Daily News in the Monday, July 27 edition.

By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, July 27, 2009
Pages one and five

They want Prince -Rupert to know they are there and aware.
The Northwest Inter-Nation

Family and Community Services Society hosted its first annual barbecue Friday in an ' effort to raise the organization's profile in Prince Rupert. '

Joining them before lunch' was the Minister for Children and Family Development, Mary Polak, who discussed the decision to move six full time child t protection positions in Prince Rupert, Kitimat and Terrace to NFCSS.

Polak said that the BC Government Employees and Services Union had commented before all the relevant information was published; which \I she felt made it look like the layoffs were a surprise when, in fact, they weren't.

"The unfortunate part is the way the BCGEU made it a media issue, which muddled it up," said Polak,

She said she wasn't sure whether it was a communications problem on the ministry's end, but the BCGEU never picked up the phone to clarify the layoffs with her.

For the NFCSS) the additional responsibility of taking on .nine aboriginal communities on the North Coast was greatly welcomed, but the key will be how much funding the child protection organization receives to properly work from Kitimaat Village to Iskut, a region that is large and difficult to manage.

"[The change] will be better in the sense that now First Nations communities can take full ownership and local control to make their own decisions on children at risk," said NFCSS Regional Guardianship Supervisor, Kathleen Bennett.

Bennett was pleased that ministry representative Polak had taken the opportunity to meet up with her and her team while in town.

But she added that it would actually be a federal responsibility to fund her programs from now on.

Bennett said that her organizations wants to and may need to expand its staffing levels. They currently have 19 staff members working in three offices located in Kitselas, Iskut and Prince Rupert.

She said that getting staff would prove to be a challenge as many locations are quite remote, such as Hartley Bay, which means costly air flights or ferry rides.

"The current funding is not adequate. But with more funding we can do a better job of giving more culturally relevant services," said Bennett. "However, what is most exciting about this is that communities want to take back control of these services."

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