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Pediatric Death Review Cover-up
June 8, 2009 permalink
Ontario's Coroner has released the Report of the Paediatric Death Review Committee and Deaths Under Five Committee.
It purports to inform the public on the nature of childhood deaths in Ontario, so that policy improvements can be made. One of the changes this year is the addition of Dr Dirk Huyer to the committee. Dr Huyer has appeared a few times on this site, many more times in reports that we cannot post. He was a sidekick of Dr Charles Smith during his heyday, supervising the SCAN clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children. The think-dirty attitude resulted in many parents falsely accused of child abuse by Dr Huyer. In a case we cannot report, he stated that when he gets a case, it is already child abuse, his job is only to gather supporting evidence for that conclusion.
One meaning of snow-job is an essay response to a question on an examination. When the student knows nothing of the subject, a long essay talking around the topic may get a passing grade, at least if the examiner does not read it carefully. The coroner's report is such a snow-job.
Much of the report is a long recitation of procedures within the coroner's office.
There is a long discussion of sleeping arrangements, including the line: 31 deaths are identified as SIDS. Another discussion is of fire (60 deaths).
And what about the biggest cause of child death, foster care? The report obfuscates the distinction between parental care and foster care. A table on page 67 says that of the 105 child deaths with CAS cases, only 17 were in CAS care, the rest were "In Home Service" cases. Since the 17 figure is impossibly low according to our statistical study, the category "In Home Service" must include many non-parental care cases. Maybe they classify foster homes as "In Home Service". In case you think the number 105 too high, another table on page 85 studies 41 deaths with CAS cases. The other 64 weren't worth study.
Not one dead child is mentioned by name, so there can be no outside check on accuracy. In an American report, there was enough detail to say definitively that the data was incorrect. In the Ontario document, there is less detail than in the US report, not enough to pin down any definite errors. It seems safe to say that the purpose of the report is not to inform, but to conceal.
An editorial in yesterday's Edmonton Sun calls for a public inquiry into Alberta's child welfare system. The call comes because of the large number of problems that have come to the attention of the press. In Ontario, where the number of deaths is higher, there are no such calls because of successful cover-ups by the social services system.
Child welfare public inquiry needed
By ANDREW HANON, Last Updated: 7th June 2009, 1:29am
It's time for Janis Tarchuk to call a public inquiry into Alberta's child welfare system.
Alberta's children and youth services minister is one of the most beleagured members of Premier Ed Stelmach's cabinet. It seems each time an uproar over the state of our child welfare system starts to die down, another one erupts.
The latest was last week's horrific double-homicide in Strathcona County. When police tried to contact the owner of a stolen vehicle they recovered, they discovered the bodies of two neighbours.
The following day, they announced charges against two 14-year-olds arrested with the vehicle, one with two counts of murder and the other as an accessory after the fact.
As if accusing a pair of young teens in two killings isn't horrifying enough, it was soon revealed that both boys were wards of the Crown, and had recently run away from a nearby group home.
Now it's been revealed that the minister has known for two years about neighbours' concerns over kids running away from the facililty.
That's how this mess landed in Tarchuk's lap. It's only the latest in a list.
Back in January, a four-year-old girl in a foster home died. The foster mom, who is also the victim's aunt, was charged with second-degree murder.
The little's girl's grandmother claimed the family had warned Children's Services not to place the girl in that home because the foster mom already had six kids of her own.
The same month another foster mother, a nurse by profession, was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a three-year-old in her care. Last week she was sentenced to three years in prison.
The boy's biological parents are now suing the government for $400,000, alleging that the foster mother systematically abused the child. They charge that the government fails to properly screen, train and support foster parents.
In March, a southern Alberta toddler in foster care was hospitalized with massive head injuries.
Meanwhile, there are at least two fatality inquiries pending for other children connected to the child welfare system who've died in recent years.
Then there was the outcry last fall over the delays in the children's advocate's failure to file annual reports on time, leading to accusations that Tarchuk had no control over her ministry.
In fairness to Tarchuk, some of these cases came along before she was appointed minister.
But that's not the point. This isn't about skewering a cabinet minister or scoring political points.
The only thing that matters is that individuals are dying, and the deaths are connected to the child welfare system.
Simply assuring the public that the system is good isn't enough.
Tarchuk needs to open it up to public scrutiny so we can see for ourselves. It's the only way to lift the cloud of doubt.
Source: Edmonton Sun