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Name of RCY Date of Appointment Date of Leaving Office Minister Premier Political Party
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond 4 December 2006 26 November 2016 Stanley B. Hagen
Tom Christensen
Mary Polak
Mary McNeil
Stephanie Cadieux
Gordon Campbell
Christy Clark
B.C. Liberal
Bernard Richard 27 November 2016 (Acting RCY)
16 February 2017 (officially appointed)
Stephanie Cadieux Christy Clark B.C. Liberal

The position of Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) was created after the release of the Ted Hughes report on "B.C. Children and Youth Review" on 7 April 2006. Its mandate is governed by a provincial statute called Representative for Children and Youth Act passed on 18 May 2006. According to the B.C. government, the function of the RYC is to improve services and outcomes for children in the province through advocacy, accountability and review. Primarily, RCY is a watchdog on the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). On 22 November 2006, an all-party Special Committee unanimously recommended to the Legislative Assembly that Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond be appointed for a five-year term as RCY. She receives a salary equal to that paid to the chief judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

All subsequent RCYs and their date of appointment are listed on the right.

On 4 December 2006, Ms. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond assumed the office of B.C.'s first Representative for Children and Youth. The organization structure, mandate and 2011-12 annual budget of the Office of the RCY are depicted below.

Organizational structure, mandate and 2011/2012 statement of expenditures of RCY
(Source: RCY 2011/12 Annual Report and 2012/13-2014/15 Service Plan)
Hover your mouse to pause the slide show and to view description.

The Alleged Roles of the Office of RCY

According to the web site of the RCY, the Representative does not work for the government. The RCY is an independent Officer of the Legislature and does not report through a provincial ministry. Its role and jurisdiction are defined in the Representative for Children and Youth Act and focus on advocacy, monitoring and investigation. To the public and the media, the RCY's most obvious function is to act as a watchdog. Pursuant to Section 20 of the Representative for Children and Youth Act, the RCY published reports that appear to be embarrassing to the MCFD. Society applauses the RCY for advocating for children and youth in need. They fail to see that the RCY has no power to oblige MCFD to accept and implement recommendations suggested in these reports. Most RCY reports received a polite acknowledgment from the Minister of Children and Family Development and sit on the shelf collecting dust.

Many oppressed parents who have children removed form a false hope that RCY is their savior and will challenge MCFD to protect their rights. To their dismay, they soon discover that assisting parents is not a mandate of the RCY. The RCY has absolutely no power to overrule decisions made by the child protection workers of MCFD. The Office of the RCY will not involve unless children are seriously injured or die and will never intervene MCFD's decisions. To honor the "hard work" of front line child protection workers who dedicate their time and career in "protecting children" in the 2011 Social Worker Week, this so-called watchdog beat the same drum and openly praised them (watch the video at the top left hand corner of this page). The attitude and the position of the office of RCY are as clear as a bell.

The Office of RCY in B.C. costs taxpayers $7.31 million in the 2011-12 fiscal year and further strains the already tight provincial coffer. Why former premier Gordon Campbell established the Office of RCY in 2006? On the surface, it appears that the Office of RCY is an act to restore accountability and transparency. It sheds hope to reform the corrupt child protection industry (hereinafter known as the industry). Given the fact that this watchdog has no real teeth to bite, the foregoing is nothing but mere wishful thinking. After the RCY published a 92-page special report titled "When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in B.C.", we commented that this watchdog office was established to create an appearance of accountability and a political shield to fend off criticisms when public attention is drawn to the industry on 17 November 2013. Our cynical view was confirmed by MCFD's counterpart in Alberta ten days later.

On 26 November 2013, Alberta's Human Services Minister Dave Hancock used the establishment of child and youth advocate office in 2012 to argue that substantial improvement has been made (video time marker 1:44). The industry is so predictable.

Alberta's LRCY Confirmed Our View

Politicians know that state-sponsored child removal will eventually draw unwanted attention, face public scrutiny and meet resistance one day. The Office of RCY is a seemingly plausible defence that government has made every reasonable effort to restore accountability and transparency. On the surface, the RCY appears to be critical on deficiencies of the child protection regime and publishes scathing reports containing statistics generally unavailable to the public. At times, RCY will commence legal proceedings on MCFD to get what it wants. For instance, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, RCY won a legal battle against MCFD and successfully convinced the Honourable Madam Justice Griffin to grant the RCY right to view MCFD “confidential” documents and ordered the Ministry to hand over confidential documents as requested in the B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria on May 13, 2010. In fact, the RCY has no mandate, no intent, no power to undertake any meaningful reform and, above all, subtly serve to protect the status quo. Few children benefit from the dust collecting reports that generate little or no ameliorative action.

Similar offices were created by governments with child removal authority. Alberta's Office of the Child and Youth Advocate established on 1 April 2012 is an example that demonstrates the aforesaid political shrewdness. Remarkable similarities are found in the title of the RCY (Legal Representation for Children and Youth or LRCY in Alberta) and the statutes that govern its power. Alberta has a provincial law that ban publication of identifiable information on families involved in child protection. Like all other child protection regimes, death of foster children while in care is common. Any person or body, including the media, will run into stumbling block set forth by self-serving child protection agency under the pretext of privacy. Journalists in Alberta engaged in a four-year long legal battle before the Commissioner of Privacy ordered the Alberta government to release foster children death information. Journalist Karen Kleiss of the Edmonton Journal and Darcy Henton of the Calgary Herald published a series of articles surrounding death of foster children while in care. This attracted unwanted publicity that Alberta's child protection industry fears for a long time.

Damage control propaganda spearheaded by the Human Services Minister Dave Hancock and a number of service providers was launched to fight the fire. Minister Hancock found a defence that the Alberta government has restored accountability citing the establishment of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate in 2012. In just ten days after we published our view on the real political function of RCY, MCFD's counterpart in Alberta confirmed our view. Alberta established the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate long after the B.C. government established the same in 2006. But the Alberta government beats the B.C. government in using it as a political shield when the media gets them in hot water.

The Real Political Functions of the RCY

The RCY's involvement in the J.P. v. British Columbia (Children and Family Development), 2015 BCSC 1216 also sheds light on her role. This is the first case in Canadian legal history in which child protection workers are found liable for misfeasance in public office, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the standard of care. Relevant questions to ask should be:

  • Why child protection workers could abuse their power? Are there any structural deficiencies that enable them to do so with being discovered and punished?
  • Why there is no effective check and balance?
  • Why the provincial courts often accept allegations made by child protection workers without proper evaluation?
  • Why the perpetrator got a promotion from his team leader position to the Community Service Manager position instead of criminally charged?

On 20 August 2015, the RCY published a submission titled "Representative's Editorial Submission on "J.P." case". She stated that she will continue to advocate for the four children involved in the child welfare, family law and civil litigation proceedings, hence playing a placatory role. She tactfully divert focus on the relevant issues that would solve the problems created by state sponsored child removal.

Furthermore, Dawn Thomas-Wightman has been named Acting Deputy Representative for Children and Youth on 14 January 2015. Thomas-Wightman has nearly 20 years of direct experience in child welfare through her various roles with the MCFD, delegated Aboriginal Agencies (DAAs) and the Representative’s Office. Former Deputy John Greschner moved into a new position as Executive Lead, External Relations and Strategic Direction at the RCY. Birds of a feather flock together. The implication of hiring a long time MCFD veteran as her right hand person is clear as a bell.

Another disturbing observation is that the RCY often recommends more fundings to MCFD after ministry-created atrocities occur. The rationale is insufficient training, too few child protection workers and too many children need protection. Fundamental questions such as whether children removed should be removed in the first place, whether government intervention is justified as the only best option to children in need, the efficiency of child protection workers, the harmful effects of child removal on children society, are totally ignored. The report "The Thin Front Line: MCFD staffing crunch leaves social workers over-burdened, B.C. children under-protected" published on 8 October 2015 in response to the death of Alex Geravis is an example to support the foregoing. It took the RCY only 20 days to publish this 73-page report after Alex Geravis died on 18 September 2015. This is very efficient by government standard. This report contains a great deal of cherry picking of information to support the case that MCFD needs $20 million dollars more to hire child protection workers to adequately protect children. Cherry picking is a typical skill most judges possess. Incidentally, the RCY used to be a judge and is now a judge on leave of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan.

Her recommendations are echoed by a report from the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) titled "Closing the Circle", which says the current system suffers from being under-financed. Stephanie Smith, the president of the BCGEU, told CBC News on 8 October 2015 that "It's about a lack of resources, a lack of training ... absolutely unmanageable caseloads, workload issues. What we want to see is a systemic fix to these issues," The timing of publishing these two reports provides food for thought on whether this is a coordinated effort to lobby more money into the industry.

RCY Publications and Recommendations

To shed more light on the real functions of the RCY, the time line table below contains selected major CPS-related events transpired in the corresponding year. Toggle the years (in blue text) in the table below to view recommendations and conclusions of RCY publications and our comments in descending chronological order since 2010. At the point of writing in November 2015, RCY publications in 2006 (the inception year of RCY), if any, are not available on-line. All "Reviews and investigations of child deaths and critical injuries" reports are covered in a separate web page and some brief RCY statements are omitted due to a lack of significance. Please click on the year below to view the details. The number n in superscript square brackets [n] after each year denotes the number of RCY publications selected for our review.

MCFD's operating expenses budgets, excluding legal expenses, ending on 31 March are in the bottom green row.

2025 [ ] 2024 [ ] 2023 [ ] 2022 [ ] 2021 [ ] 2020 [ ] 2019 [ ] 2018 [ ] 2017 [ ] 2016 [17]
  • RCY published report on sexual abuse of child in care
  • Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond ended her RCY tenure on 27 Nov 2016
$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $1,378,927,000
2015 [18] 2014 [13] 2013 [12] 2012 [16] 2011 [19] 2010 [16] 2009 [12] 2008 [12] 2007 [7] 2006 [0]
more ... more ...
J.P. v. B.G., 2012 BCSC 938 handed down in June
  • Fairchild TV aired Mag 26 documentary "MCFD" on 28 November
  • "Powerful As God" aired on 17 September
more ...
Nancy Schaefer (a prominent anti-CPS former Senate in Georgia) and her husband found dead at home on 26 March Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to the victims of residential schools in the House of Commons on 11 June PAPA founded in July
$1,356,419,000 $1,345,039,000 $1,333,291,000 $1,330,591,000 $1,333,693,000 $1,987,004,000 $1,866,644,000 $1,577,388,000

From our observation, it is safe to contend that the RCY serves the following functions:

  1. Despite that the RCY does not report to MCFD, it is essentially the political lobbying arm of MCFD masqueraded as a watchdog. The reports published speak loud and clear. They repeatedly advocate more funding which will only enhance the problems created by state sponsored child removal. To the industry, fund lobbying done by a pseudo watchdog will avoid being perceived as self-serving and is more convincing to the government and the public.
  2. The inception of RCY is a good political defence when ministry created atrocities occur.
  3. Confine the scope of problems and investigation within the tolerance zone of the industry when unwanted public attention is drawn.
  4. Plays the role of public relations spin doctor extolling the perverted and oppressive act of child removal but condemning its harmful consequences serves the industry well and give an illusion that the corrupt temple is still salvageable and worth keeping.
  5. Divert the media and the public from the real issues of state sponsored child removal that could potentially collapse the industry.
  6. Create more service providers in the industry whose livelihood depends on child removal. Be mindful that the bureaucracy consumes over $7 millions of tax dollars each year. All employees in the RCY office, from the top dog to the minions, are also service providers who have a job because of child removal.

Instituting the office of RCY is a shrewd design in the industry and a brilliant political decision aiming to create an appearance of accountability and transparency. It is a sophisticated art of deception, diversion and diffusion.

birds of a feather

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s tenure as RCY

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond completed her second term as British Columbia’s Representative for Children and Youth in 2016. On 24 October 2016, MCFD Minister Stephanie Cadieux issued a statement on Turpel-Lafond’s tenure as RCY. Her remarks confirm our belief.

“As her term wraps up, I hope Turpel-Lafond takes comfort in knowing the ministry has added 300 frontline staff and increased its budget by $72.2 million in the last year alone, putting us at just over $1.45 billion with 90% of that funding going toward direct investment in programs and services."

The above statement precisely summarizes the RCY's accomplishment in lobbying more funds for the child protection industry. Despite more tax dollars are being wasted to create more bureaucracies and to support the lifestyle of service providers, removed children continue to suffer death, injuries, abuses and trauma while in care.

Turpel-Lafond sues B.C. government in pension dispute

An Anecdote on Turpel-Lafond After Leaving the Office of RCY

On 17 March 2017, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond sued the provincial government in a dispute over pension benefits. She filed a notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court accusing the province of breaking a verbal agreement to provide her with one-and-a-half years of pension credit for every year of service as the representative for children and youth. She alleged that the B.C. Government's failure to either provide or acknowledge the enhanced pension entitlement owed to the plaintiff is motivated by malice and bad faith and has demonstrated a history of animosity and hostility toward her role as RCY.

Turpel-Lafond claims she took a leave of absence as a provincial court judge in Saskatchewan based on that verbal agreement, waiving her right to contribute to the judges’ pension fund. She has resumed her career as a provincial judge in Saskatchewan.


[This page was added on 17 May 2010, last revised on 28 March 2017.]