Stoddard OnlineMake no mistake about it, this weeks budget in British Columbia is a complete sham.
Sure, there may be some goodies tucked away in the budget that will temporarily shut up the labour and construction industry, a bit of an increase in the basic home owner grant, some job creation tax credits in the construction fields, and a few basic top up's in health care and education that were taken away in the past four years. After all is said and done, with claims of a balanced budget, we still end up with an increase of over two billion dollars in the provincial debt.
The one sickening aspect of this budget is the glossing over of child care in this province. Premier Gordon Campbell and his government are totally responsible for the abandonment of the office of the Children's Commissioner. This was done a few short years ago, and in doing so, investigations of over 700 child deaths were lost in the shuffle. These investigations were supposedly turned over to the BC Coroners office for investigation, however, for some reason were shelved and never carried out. According to the premier's office the files were turned over to the coroners office to streamline the system, and to prevent duplication of procedures, when in fact, the system ground to a halt.
As a result, unqualified staff were making decisions with reference to children at risk. Children were placed in foster care without adequately investigating those with whom they were placed.
The recent conclusion of the inquest in Port Alberni of the criminal death of nineteen month old Sherry Charlie is a prime example of the results of inept decisions made as a result of the abandonment of the Child Commissioners office in British Columbia. This infant was placed in care at the home of her uncle who had a long criminal record for assaults and violence, and he himself stated at the inquest that children should never be placed in his care. In this little girl's case, the assualts and violence had gone on undetected for months leading to her death, as there were never follow up checks at the home.
Through the dedication of a doctor, Sherry's death was ruled a homocide. Her autopsy revealed that abuse to her body had gone on for some months before her death. She suffered from eleven broken ribs, some old fractures, some new ones, as well as numerous head and other body injuries.
The premier indicated about a week ago that he accepts the responsibility for these happenings. He should, as it was he and his government who saw fit to abandon the children at risk in this province by cancelling the Childrens Commissioners Office.
It is a real slap in the face to the family of this baby girl this past week when our finance minister, Carole Taylor, shows up in a new pair of six hundred dollar shoes to deliver the 2006 provincial budget. It is a further slap in the face to try and lead this family down the garden path by telling them that she is alloting over four hundred million dollars to child care in British Columbia, when in fact she is not, she is only restoring what the government stole away when they closed the office of the Child Commissioner in the first place.