On February 21, 2006, B.C. Finance Minister Carole Taylor announced the captioned budget. It contains the following major tax changes:
The PST (social services tax) rate remains at 7%. There is no change in provincial corporate income tax rate.
Other Non-Tax Related Disturbing News In the Budget
Aboriginal children appear to draw more attention from MCFD. These data also exhibit an increasing trend in the percentage of aboriginal children in the three year period. Given the small aboriginal population in B.C., the above percentages are exceptionally high. Children “in care” of MCFD on a per capita basis for aboriginal group is 968% of that for non-aboriginal group, namely almost 10 times higher. The difference is very distinct. Although the differences in culture and standard in child caring and parenting certainly have an impact of this interesting observation, the above empirical data establish a prima facie case that warrants further research to determine whether this state-sponsored child removal business has targeted the First Nation and/or the government’s native Indian policies are ineffective.
In essence, only mentally insane parents and parents addicted to drugs and alcohol may harm their own children. The Mental Health Act and the Criminal Code are sufficient to protect children. No law can completely prevent child abuse. While the benefits and the efficiency of MCFD’s activities in "child protection" are doubtful, the adverse impacts on young children's mental and at times physical health from being removed from their parents are certain. The foregoing is substantiated by the Sherry Charlie case and numerous other less prominent cases the author has personally come across. Ironically, these negative side effects of MCFD’s activities are against the legislative intent of the Child, Family and Community Service Act (hereinafter known as CFCSA) enacted in 1996 by the B.C. NDP government. It governs MCFD’s operations in protecting the “best interests” of children.
CFCSA needs to be substantially revised, if not repealed in its entirety. There is no disciplinary provision to deter social workers from abusing their authority. Lack of accountability and corruption ensue. Law-makers and the judiciary are expected to make laws and enforce them to protect the best interests of children and their families. The standard of proof must be raised to beyond reasonable doubt and the admissibility of evidence must be scrutinized to that of criminal proceedings.
Should political considerations justify continuous government involvement, the following suggestions will result in a more efficient and equitable system:
• train social workers to improve their decision making skills;
• establish tighter eligibility of becoming a foster parent;
• approved foster parents must be subject to an annual psychological test of anger control management, sexual abuse inclination and physical test of substance abuse and communicable diseases, their foster parenthood must be immediately suspended if any one of these test results is positive;
• criminalize wrongful child removal with a penalty no less than that of child abduction in the Criminal Code and permits civil actions to seek costs and damages against social workers and their employer for torts;
• refine the legislation and the judicial system to allow efficient and prompt adjudication of contested child removals (such as creating a people’s court-like tribunal to hear family matters involving MCFD based on simple, timely, well-defined, fair and reasonable guidelines that would eliminate the need of legal counsels);
• prohibit fishing expeditions among inter-governmental agencies under the pretext of child safety;
• enshrine the legal custody right of one’s own children as a charter right (surprisingly, this fundamental human right is not in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and there is no provision in the Charter implying such right either) unless the life of a child is endangered by the parents;
• the child’s view must be respected and followed (now a provincial court judge may disallow any evidence provided by the child and completely ignore the child’s view of where he or she should be placed).
Child protection is a noble cause. However, the undue and unchecked authority given to social workers opens the child protection apparatus to abuse, wrongful apprehension and vexatious/malicious actions in the current judicial system. In some extreme cases, wrongful child removal amounts to legalized child abduction and blackmail using young children as pawns. Such persecutions are indeed crimes against humanity (go to schedule in the linked web site) and should never be permitted in a civilized society.
There is no doubt that some good and honest public servants have played an important role in child protection. The controversial fact is that there are serious defects in the "child protection" apparatus, namely the law and the judicial system. There is no disciplinary recourse one could rely on to rectify unbefitting actions of social workers.
Society expects and demands the judiciary to perform a check and balance function to ensure that there is no abuse of statutory power of social workers. However, family courts fail society by providing a very expensive rubber stamping service to endorse decisions made by social workers by ignoring or substantially undermining the credibility of evidence from parents. Although MCFD theoretically bears the onus of proof in child removal hearings, parents bear the reversed onus in reality. This is evident in the case British Columbia (Director of Child, Family and Community Services) v. G.(R.), 2001 BCPC 32 in which Judge Jane Auxier (a Vancouver provincial court judge) held that:
“ I'm sure the parents will see this decision as unfair to them - that I've put the onus on them to prove themselves, rather than putting the onus on the director to prove their inability. And I suppose that is what I have done. Primarily because of the very lengthy history of ongoing problems, the court must err on the side of caution, keeping J. in a known, safe environment rather than taking the risk of placing him in his parents' care.”
The above ruling precisely summarizes the general attitude of the judiciary. Putting the onus of proof on the parents is an error in law and provides ground to appeal against this decision in higher court if the parents have the financial resources, the determination and the perseverance of leaving their children in unknown hands for an extended period of time to pursue this option.
Beyond any doubt, CFCSA and the courts have given social workers all the power and every latitude under the sun. They can compel parents to do whatever they see fit under the threat of child removal and launching numerous legal actions against parents at taxpayers’ expense. Such defects allow social workers to exact financial punishment that can easily bankrupt a family, exercise subjective judgment, abuse and oppress any parents with children under 19 of age.
Unlike the police, lawyers and other professionals whose conduct has a huge impact on public interest, overly empowered social workers are not effectively governed by any law. In addition to the absence of disciplinary provision in CFCSA, some social workers’ actions are against the very Act that govern their mandate. The following are some absurd actions taken by social workers under the pretext of child protection:
Once the ministry obtains a continuous custody order, parents lose the legal custody of their children permanently. Social workers are authorized to allow interested parties to adopt removed children. In Table 4.a of the Report, the number of children in care who have adoption as their plan of care (percentage of total children in MCFD’s care) as at March 31, 1999, March 31, 2000 and March 31, 2001 are 1,031 (10.51%), 1,177 (12.36%) and 1,307 (13.13%) respectively.
This Budget will further put parents with children under age 19 at the risk of abuse, oppression and persecution. Social workers are known to collaborate or to be used by other government agencies, such as Crown counsels and the police, to accomplish missions that the latter cannot accomplish themselves. These civil servants all scratch one another’s back. Whenever law enforcers are given undue and unchecked power, it inevitably leads to corruption.
Furthermore, removal of children from their parents is an inhumane act and has a devastating effect to the children, parents and the society who bears a huge financial costs of child removal. The “child protection” apparatus keeps an array of special interest groups in business. In addition to social workers themselves, foster parents, interpreters, supervised visitation workers, employees of “family resource” centres, counselors, psychologists and, the last but not the least, lawyers acting for both sides all benefit financially from the activities of “child protection.” The courts are overwhelmed with hearings of these family matters as required by law. Police has to divert resources to escort social workers in removing children, attending home visits, protecting foster homes and supervised visitation workers when taking children en route. Taxpayers are an indirect victims.
While there are extreme cases in which child removal is justified for safety reasons, many child removal cases are based on mere suspicion, hearsay, bias, belief of exaggerations, misunderstanding, ignorance of some medical conditions, cultural differences, over reaction and at times malice from whistle blowers or overly zealous social workers. It is not difficult to appreciate that social workers are inclined to over react in order to protect their jobs. A good example is a medical condition known as Mongolian blue spot, which is common in young Oriental children. A health care professional had told the author that he had witnessed removal of children because the untrained eyes of social workers fail to see that this is a medical condition and concluded that the blue spots are bruises from physical abuse.
Government’s involvement in family affairs and attempts to provide family therapy are bounded to fail. The criteria of state-sponsored child removal are narrowly defined by the very socialistic “mainstream” Canadian standard. Furthermore, they certainly ignore the merits of other cultures in child caring and parenting.
This Budget contains very few and minor tax changes. The widely expected reduction in PST rate did not occur.
The beating death of the native toddler Sherry Charlie in 2002 had a strong influence in this Budget. The controversial activities of MCFD once again draw public attention. Child removal is a very inhumane act. Since the creation of man, parents are the best caregivers of their children. There is a Chinese old saying that "As fierce as tigers, they do not eat their own offsprings." Even animals will fight fiercely to protect their offsprings if they are at risk. This explains why social workers frequently require police escort in rendering their unwanted and uninvited “services”. This also creates confrontational situations for crimes, like uttering threats, assault and even murder to occur. Child removal induces conflicts within a society and is a potential source of social unrest. Horror, trauma and psychological damage to young children created by social workers are unimaginable to many immigrants who have different parenting standards and have seen no such barbaric child removal laws in their home country.
Social workers and court decisions on family matters involving MCFD seriously challenge fundamental justice, human rights and civil liberty. The broad admissibility of all relevant information (including hearsay, recanted statements and unfounded beliefs), the low standard of proof (to be more precise, reverse onus in many cases) in child protection matters, the lengthy and costly legal process and the biased views against perceived abusive parents of many judges all favor MCFD. This practice and attitude are prejudicial and will bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
Pursuant to Section 35(2) of CFCSA, a provincial court judge must make one of the following order in a Section 35 presentation hearing subsequent to child removal (the probabilities of these orders are shaded green in the table below):
The following statistics based on data from the Report reveal some very shocking results on court’s decisions:
Statistically (based on the data in 1999 to 2001), parents stand a 2% chance of having their children returned with a supervision order (namely, the child protection file is still open and social workers may remove your children anytime if they think that the order fails to “protect” the children) and no chance to get their children back without a supervision order (a total victory from the parent’s perspective). Once a child is removed, the chance of discharged is between 6% to 8%. On the other hand, the Ministry stands a chance of almost 98% in keeping the custody of removed children. These empirical data imply that either social workers are extremely accurate in making child removal decision and/or the family courts are kangaroo courts. It is impossible that human decisions on issues as complicated as child removal could have such high degree of accuracy. It follows that courts appear to have put blind faith in the decisions of social workers. Most judges fail the society’s expectation and demand to rule impartially based on credible evidence and act for the best interests of the children and families in questions. Even one wrongful child removal is too many. No civilized nation should allow this kind of atrocity to occur under the pretext of child safety.
Furthermore, the costs associated with "child protection" is unjustifiably high. Table 5.a in Appendix 3 indicates that the total expenditures in MCFD’s program delivery (before the administration costs of MCFD) were $643,733,000 in 2000-2001 and exhibits an increasing trend since 1998. The costs in program delivery per child in MCFD’s “care” is $64,657 ($643,733,000 /9,956). The cost per child is much higher if MCFD’s operating expenses, and other related costs such as police escort expenses, court time and legal expenses are included. Many child protection needs are results of poverty. If these families are given almost $65,000 each year, it is likely that most of their problems are solved. However, these monies are paid to program providers and fail to benefit families in need. This creates inefficiency and incentive of abuse. It is safe to contend that the costs of financing MCFD’s “child protection” activities highly exceed the social benefits they generate.
To the dismay of those who oppose more government, this Budget allocated more funds to MCFD attempting to placate the critics of Campbell’s Liberal government in handling the aftermath of Charlie’s tragedy. Hiring more social workers may silence some naive criticism but will only worsen the problem in the long run.
Some people may argue that the established apparatus will serve the purpose of protecting children if social workers exercise their authority appropriately. There is little doubt that some, or perhaps many, social workers are duly exercising their authority in carrying out their duties. However, structural defects in both the legislation and the judiciary open the child protection appartus to abuse. These defects are what the author strive to rectify. Good governance requires both good conscience of civil servants and an effective system to check their authority and rectify their actions if there is abuse. No good social system is built based on the assumption of good conscience alone.
Ideas contained herein may appear radical and will certainly attract the criticism that they will seriously undermine child protection. No, these suggestions will only mitigate abuse of authority and certainly merit further considerations. Be mindful that a serious problem of this nature and magnitude requires a drastic solution.
The Christian Bible contains an interesting event that shreds light on ruling child custody. In 1 Kings 3 16-28 (Appendix 4), King Solomon used the test of the child’s best interests to determine the mother, hence the custody, of the infant in question. Common sense suggests that the natural parents will care more than a foster parent who does not known a child from Adam and whose only preoccupation is to earn a foster parent’s fee. Despite how ill-tempered a parent may be, parental tie is not severable. It is unlikely that children who had been removed by MCFD, and certainly not their parents, found MCFD’s measures or interventions beneficial. On the contrary, many removed children receive unexplained wounds, exhibit abnormal behavior like unexplained profound chronic sadness, withdrawal from interaction in social occasions. Such irreparable emotional harm to young children is an unforgivable crime.
Child protection in many Western countries is an abnormal product of excessive government and feminism and is motivated by money. Under the pretext of child protection, special interests dictate policy making, exert strong influence in government and divert huge public funding to their benefit. Canadians have to make their own judgment on:
Many parents that draw the attention of MCFD are from the grass-root social class or from a different cultural background. They have very little knowledge and financial resources to combat this type of oppression. They have no representation in the policy-making and the legislative process of child protection laws. The lopsidedness of the current child protection system clearly reflects this fact. The absolute power to remove children at will, the absence of a prompt, unbiased and efficient judicial process result in prolonged child removal. The prejudicial attitude against perceived abusive parents from society and court and the low standard of proof in child protection hearings all contribute to this inequity.
CFCSA is not penal in nature. Nevertheless, many social workers abuse their statutory authority of child removal to punish parents as they see fit and/or to beat them into submission. Most of the “consent” orders made under Section 60 of CFCSA (usually in conjunction with Section 41.1) are imposed involuntarily to parents under the threat of child removal. It is very much like pointing a gun to one’s head and force him to sign a contract. No honorable court should recognize such “consent” as legally binding. Furthermore, social workers may unilaterally breach such consent order (a contract that is supposed to be binding to both parents and MCFD) should they form an opinion that the consent order is insufficient to protect the children. This open the legal process to vexatious actions.
Most of these “consent” orders contain an “open end” provision that parents have to complete counseling to the satisfaction of counselor and/or social worker. Counselors obviously have the incentive to prolong the supervision term for the purpose of milking the file and to further cover their behind as prudently doing their job. Social workers can further justify their existence and ask for a larger budget in the next fiscal year. This usually ends up in breaking up families. The author has in fact heard from families persecuted by the MCFD that the social workers in charge of their files had actually suggested that the wives should divorce their husbands and the social workers will assist the wives to get their husband’s assets if they decide to work with the social workers. This sounds very absurd as this is completely out of the Ministry’s mandate of child protection. The author assured that this extortion indeed occurs.
In many case, there is no exaggeration to conclude that the real business of these child protection social workers is legalized kidnaping and blackmail. The existence of MCFD and state-sponsored child removal laws have rendered Canada an unsafe place for those with children under the age of 19 to inhabit. Once parents are under their scrutiny, social workers are very much like the AIDS virus that will haunt them until their children reach the age of 19. No individual can win a war alone against such formidable institutional enemy. It is us, citizens and taxpayers, who give these social workers so much undue power and finance their notorious activities. This barbaric state-sponsored child removal business continues to exist simply because most Canadians do not know, or even worse do not care, what social workers actually do to families. Their blind faith in government renders them gullible to MCFD’s propaganda controlled by social workers and other special interest groups. Contrary to the name “Ministry of Children and Family Development”, destruction of families and breaking up reconciled couples are common whenever MCFD is involved.
To implement any positive changes, the livelihood of many influential stakeholders will be affected. One will have to fight a very uphill battle, almost like a mission impossible. The government will launch every weapon in its arsenal. Be prepared to face:
Success of such attempt will require cohesive collective effort, unwavering faith in the cause of a civil movement, determination, perseverance, wise strategy, superb bargaining skills, ability to mobilize the mass, support of the media, personal sacrifices, financial support and, above all, the zeal to protect the best interests of our children and the dignity of parents. It is time to act for yourself, your offsprings, human dignity and natural justice.
Many child removal cases are unrighteous and unjustified. In these cases, the activities of child protection social workers do not protect children. They abuse parents and destroy families. Despite how powerful they may appear on the surface, those who act against the best interests of society and against human conscience are paper tigers. History has shown that even the most powerful tyranny will eventually collapse. In a democracy, determined individuals with a righteous cause can make a difference against insurmountable odds. A single spark can start a prairie fire. No true fiasco ever began as a quest of mere adequacy. The author firmly believes a motto of the British Army’s Special Air Service Regiment: "Who Dares Wins".
[This page was added on 21 November 2008.]