Sunday, April 14, 2024

‘British Columbians will be watching’: Victoria’s Grace Lore receives new role in ministry shake up

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On Monday, January 15th, Premier David Eby announced a few new government appointments, including the replacement of Mitzi Dean as the Minister of BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). 

Dean, who is the BC NDP member of the legislative assembly representing the Esquimalt-Metchosin electoral district, was called upon to resign from her position in October of last year by BC Green Party MLA Adam Olson, who represents the Saanich Peninsula.

He wanted to draw attention to a situation within the ministry that he believed was mishandled, leading to the death of a child in MCFD care. 

An special audit was conducted  on the MCFD to ensure best practices were being adhered to by ministry social workers following the death of an Indigenous child in the system. 

Ultimately, this audit revealed that some social workers were negligent in 11 cases that were put under a microscope and the matter was brought up in a legislative session by Olson.

He said that Dean needed to be replaced and he expressed his disappointment in Premier Eby for the results of the audit.


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Now, in the largest ministry shakeup since Eby made his initial appointments, Mitzi Dean is no longer the head of the MCFD, but will instead be the Province’s new Minister of State for Childcare—the former office held by Grace Lore, the Victoria-Beacon Hill BC NDP MLA.

Lore will be replacing Dean within the MCFD, although the two will still be working closely together as their ministries are intrinsically intertwined. 

“Child care is extremely important to families, it is a significant benefit to businesses, and it is quite simply critical to our entire province,” said Eby.

“Minister Dean will be a tireless champion for BC’s first new major social program in a generation. We have made considerable progress on the very difficult files within the ministry of children and family development, and I know that Minister Lore’s experience and passion will benefit young people and families.”

Olson released a statement to the media on Monday as well, following the appointment announcement, expressing his approval of the change. 

“After repeatedly calling for a leadership overhaul in the ministry, we are glad to see the Premier finally take action,” Olson said. “The ministry’s chronic accountability issues have long failed children and families.”

“MCFD needs to be fundamentally transformed and rebuilt from the ground up. This change in leadership is the first step to reform. We congratulate Minister Lore on her new position, and hope that she will be empowered to do the necessary work of shaping a child welfare system that British Columbians can trust.”

Olson also said in his statement that he expects Lore to bring big changes to the systems in place under the MCFD, including third party oversight of ministry employees and senior staff, better supports across the board and mandatory enrollment in BC College of Social Workers for all MCFD social workers. 

“British Columbians will be watching Minister Lore,” said Olson.  

“We remain hopeful yet cautious, ready to support meaningful change while holding the ministry to the highest standards of accountability and effectiveness.”

Premier Eby also named Andrew Mercier as Minister of State for Sustainable Forestry, who will be working to support Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests, and he also appointed MLA George Chow as the Parliamentary Secretary for International Credentials. 

Chow will be working with the newly passed legislation which is helping in removing barriers to internationally trained professionals moving to BC. 

mm
Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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