Minister squanders public funds on expensive HQ renovations, while closing doors to services for abused children

November 5, 2007

It has been revealed that at the same time Minister of Children and Family Development Tom Christensen was cutting funding to therapy and court support services for sexually abused children, he and his Deputy Minister were overseeing extravagant office renovations at Ministry head offices, which went way over budget.

"I think any reasonable British Columbian would support funding services to abused children over office renovations. It is shameful that the Minister responsible does not appear to share this same sense of priority," says BCGEU President George Heyman.

Earlier this year, the Mary Manning Centre in Victoria - a BCGEU certification, laid off three counsellors when the government refused to provide $170,000 to meet service needs. It was only after the Victoria community rallied and raised tens of thousands of dollars in donations that layoffs were averted.

Documents that have just been released in the legislature show that the MCFD spent $560,000 on renovations to its fourth-floor headquarters in Victoria. The minister personally signed off on the project - which cost almost three times the original budget.

INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED INTO ALLEGATIONS MCFD TRIED TO SUPPRESS CRITICAL REPORT

In a related development, recently leaked documents show the Ministry of Children and Family Development may have censored a report critical of the government's inadequate support for sexually abused children before releasing it.

The documents show the ministry has known for at least 18 months that children who had been sexually abused weren't getting the counselling and support they needed, but failed to act. BC's Information and Privacy Commissioner has launched an investigation of the Ministry's alleged attempts to censor the report.

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