Public Eye – April 7

Kids-in-care go from foster home to welfare roll

  • Apr. 6, 2011 4:00 p.m.
Maurine Karagianis

Maurine Karagianis

Over half of British Columbia’s children-in-care applied for income assistance within six months of turning 19 and aging out of government protection — something the opposition’s children and family development critic has described as a “failure” on the part of the province.

The revelation was included in a batch of statistics, which were quietly posted on the ministry of children and family development’s website late last month.

According to those statistics, that application rate has increased over the past few years — going from 36.9 per cent in fiscal 2005/06 to 42.0 per cent in 2008/09. But, in 2009/10, it shot up 11.5 per centage points to 53.5 per cent.

In response, the critic — New Democrat Esquimalt-Royal Roads MLA Maurine Karagianis — said that jump “points to a failure on the part of government to care for the long-term future of foster children.”

“There should be very specific efforts made to ensure they are getting the adequate education that they need and that they’re getting some additional supports around life skills, work readiness and all that,” she continued.

Adrienne Montani — the provincial coordinator for First Call, a coalition of groups concerned about children and youth issues — agreed, calling the increase “troubling.”

Montani said the rise in the number of former children-in-care applying for income assistance could partially be explained by the global economic downturn.

But she said the government should have made sure extra support was available for those kids given British Columbia’s tough economic times.

So what does the government have to say about all of this? Well, the ministry of children and family development was unable to respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Former Harper adviser backs B.C.’s right-wing alternative

After she won the provincial Liberal leadership race, many of those who opposed Christy Clark’s bid for power got behind her throne. But not everyone has sworn fealty to the new premier.

Among them: Hamish Marshall, a prominent conservative backroomer and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former strategic planning manager.

During the leadership race, Marshall was the spokesperson and pollster for a business coalition that backed competing leadership candidate Kevin Falcon.

Falcon has pledged to support Clark, being appointed the government’s new deputy premier and finance minister.

Meanwhile, Monday has learned Marshall is now a senior member of the team advising federal parliamentarian John Cummins — who is looking to build a right-wing alternative to the Liberals.

Cummins, who is retiring as the MP for Delta-Richmond East, announced he was running for the leadership of the BC Conservatives last week — the sole candidate in the race.

Upon learning of Marshall’s involvement with that campaign, Vancouver Island University political science professor Allan Warnke said, “That’s pretty significant for the provincial Conservatives.”

Warnke explained third parties, if they want a shot at power, need “people who are not just dedicated — who are true believers and all the rest of it. You’ve got to have people with some acumen, some experience and some idea how a party works and how you organize a party.”

And, according to Warnke, Marshall — who was also one of two British Columbia representatives on the federal Conservatives’ national council between 2008 and 2010 — fits that bill.

Marshall was also recently the public affairs research director for Angus Reid Public Opinion. M

 

Sean Holman is editor of the online provincial political news journal Public Eye (publiceyeonline.com). He can be reached at editorial@publiceyeonline.com.

 

 

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