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Alberta Bureaucrat Resigns in Frustration
December 6, 2014 permalink
Dr Lionel Dibden has resigned as chair of Alberta's Council for Quality Assurance. With the diplomatic restraint of a professional public servant he said: “Regrettably, I feel that under my direction the council has been unable to fulfil its mandate effectively and I am no longer able to hold the position.” And: “I have experienced frustrations, which have in part contributed to my decision to leave the role.”
Before resignation he advocated for “fully transparent,” “comprehensive and robust” internal quality assurance investigation after every single death or serious injury of a child whose life was touched by the intervention system. He did not get it. Research by fixcas has shown that in the US, official statistics on foster child deaths are misrepresented to absurdly low levels. There is no comparable research for Canada, not because Canadian numbers are more accurate, but because so little Canadian information is published that no such analysis is possible. With Dr Dibden's resignation the tradition of concealing deaths in foster care can continue.
Attempts to improve child death reviews thwarted, documents say
Respected pediatrician quits council in frustration
EDMONTON - A high-profile pediatrician and child abuse expert has resigned from a government council after efforts to improve Alberta’s internal child death investigation process were rejected by ministry officials.
In a resignation letter dated Nov. 27, Dr. Lionel Dibden stepped down as chair of the Council for Quality Assurance, a quasi-independent expert committee with a mandate to help strengthen the province’s child intervention services. The council also has the power to convene expert panels.
“Regrettably, I feel that under my direction the council has been unable to fulfil its mandate effectively and I am no longer able to hold the position,” Dibden wrote in the letter.
“I have experienced frustrations, which have in part contributed to my decision to leave the role,” Dibden added when reached Tuesday evening.
“That’s no surprise to anybody.”
Internal government documents obtained separately by the Journal show the council recommended government conduct a “fully transparent,” “comprehensive and robust” internal quality assurance investigation after every single death or serious injury of a child whose life was touched by the intervention system.
The council insisted that “failure to respect these guiding principles will be seen by many as a way to reduce accountability and potential learnings from an incident.
“The integrity of the process may easily be brought into question,” the council said.
Yet sources close to the council say the ministry maintains that some deaths — such as those of medically fragile children — do not merit review. Further, ministry officials believe there is no need to conduct an investigation when the Child and Youth Advocate or the Fatality Review Board are reviewing the case — even though the advocate and the courts have substantively different objectives than an internal review.
Barring a thorough review of every case, the council said the government ought to publicly explain why the ministry decided for or against a review — another recommendation that was rejected.
The council also said reviews should include the child’s entire experience in the system, insisting a limited scope would “damage the integrity of the process.” The ministry elected instead to limit case reviews to the two-year period preceding a child’s death or serious injury.
Finally, the ministry has failed to establish two expert panels called by the council nearly one year ago.
Human Services Minister Heather Klimchuk dodged questions about Dibden’s resignation and what it says about the ministry’s ongoing rejection of the council’s recommendations. She thanked Dibden for his service and said she has laid out new expectations for the council, but did not elaborate except to say “it will become very clear soon.”
“I’m still working through the process with them, so it’s early days,” Klimchuk said.
Acting chair Donna Wallace declined to comment on the leaked documents, but lamented Dibden’s departure as chair.
“We’ve lost a very strong leader of our council, who had enormous valuable experience, well-respected in his field and in government,” she said.
“It’s a huge loss for the council, a huge loss for the government, and it’s a loss for all the vulnerable children who are in care.”
Source: Edmonton Journal