VANCOUVER – B.C.’s advocate for children is blasting the provincial government over its response to a horrible tragedy in Prince Rupert involving the mother of a child with autism.
Robbie had become violent and uncontrollable, but when Angie tried to get him into a proper facility she said she was told there was nothing available.
Autism advocates say this tragedy highlights the dire shortage of services for parents of special needs children, particularly in the interior.
On Thursday, the Minister of Children and Family Development, Stephanie Cadieux, told Global News that there were plenty of resources in Prince Rupert.
“As I mentioned there’s a suite of services available through the Ministry of Children and Family Development, a broad-ranging array of services because not every child’s circumstances are the same, nor every family,” she said.
WATCH: Extended interview with Stephanie Cadieux:
However, the B.C. Representative for Children and Youth, Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond, said she completely disagrees and she is very concerned by the message this case sends.
“First of all, I’m just filled with profound grief at this terrible loss,” she said, adding that she is already reviewing the case but has not decided if she will launch an investigation at this time.
“I am very concerned by the message this case sends because there are not adequate services for children with special needs, especially young people where parents are struggling, and in the north regions of our province,” she added. “So I think we better listen to what we’re hearing here very carefully.”
Turpel Lafond said she is waiting on the coroner’s report to determine exactly what happened in this situation, but she was clear about one thing.
“There are not services that are adequate for children in this province,” she said. “We are not providing adequate services here.”
Speaking on Unfiltered, Turpel Lafond said she knows for a fact that B.C. does not have the services and support with well-trained and well-supported staff.
In B.C., the Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre provides mental health programs and services to youth ages 12 to 17. Turpel Lafond said it is the only facility of its kind in the province and only has 22 beds.
Angie was offered space at the Maples, but Turpel Lafond said the land the Maples was built on was just sold. “The site will eventually transfer to private hands,” she said. “So what is the future of the Maples? It’s uncertain at this point. I hope the government plans to create an alternative.”
She added that she will be pressing Cadieux to look very hard at this case, what happened to Angie and Robbie and to encourage change.