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

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.


Just Posted

Well-known former B.C. radio personality and politician Barrie Clark dies

Clark remembered as a fair-minded ‘statesman,’ who always saw the big picture

WATCH: Giant Flowers artwork going up at Evans roundabout in Chilliwack

The artwork installation Tuesday was causing very little traffic disruption for Chilliwack drivers

Nature festival, musical science and more for spring break fun

Chilliwack’s libraries, ice rinks and favourite family spots offer up plenty to do

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

UFV health fair focuses on taking back health

Health sciences program invites Dr. Cathy van Ingen to speak

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Police officers injured in Trans Mountain pipeline arrests: RCMP

One suffered a head injury after being kicked, another hurt a knee, and a third hurt a hand

Horgan promises new school funding formula in B.C.

Premier addresses B.C. Teachers Federation AGM ahead of contract negotiations starting next year

Reader Photos: First day of spring around British Columbia

Our loyal viewers sent us some of their favourite Spring photos from all corners of the province

Five Canadian kids charged with making school threats

Police say online threats are on the rise

Not even Ellen DeGeneres can get Virtue, Moir to say they’re more than friends

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday

RCMP warn public to stop pouring gas on fires after three incidents

Police responded to three recent incidents that sent seven people to hospital

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles in the driver’s seat and Ethan Martini takes a seat

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

New Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms in Canada

Measures are intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes

Most Read