Jarrett Parker, a manager who was let go by the Department of Health and Social Services after raising concerns about children in government care, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit with the Yukon Supreme Court on April 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Axed whistleblower sues Yukon government

Jarrett Parker alleges he was terminated for suggesting kids were not receiving appropriate care

A manager who was let go by the Department of Health and Social Services after raising concerns about children in government care has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.

Jarrett Parker filed his statement of claim in Yukon Supreme Court April 18.

In it, the former manager of regional services says he was on extended probation with the government when he was let go April 9, one day before his probation was set to end.

Neither the department nor the assistant deputy minister (ADM) had cause for rejecting Parker from probation, the lawsuit says.

Parker alleges he was terminated in part because of his “ongoing and appropriate efforts to ensure that children at risk or in the care and custody of HSS received the appropriate level of care and services in accordance with its governing legislation and the accepted standards of social work and his profession.”

He also alleges he was terminated because of his efforts to “bring to the attention of the ADM and other senior managers at HSS that children at risk or in the care and custody of HSS were not in fact receiving the appropriate level of care and services.”

None of the allegations has been proven in court. The Yukon government has not filed a statement of defence.

Yukon Department of Justice spokesperson Dan Cable said the government had “no comment.”

Parker says he sent an email to the ADM and the director of child and family services Dec. 22, 2017 where he says he told them about “concerns regarding previous attempts to find emergency placements for youth in the group home system and concerns regarding the system’s ability to support high risk youth.”

Parker alleges there was also a string of emails with the manager of child placements earlier that month “regarding possible openings in the group home system for an adolescent female.”

According to the lawsuit, on or about March 7 Parker phoned the department’s director of human resources, the ADM and the director of child and family services to “inform them of a concern raised by an employee of HSS about racism in the department.”

The next day, Parker says he met with the ADM and the director of child and family services to discuss the racism complaint and the Dec. 22 email. Parker says he re-sent the Dec. 22 email to the ADM on March 28.

Starting near the end of March, reports in the media were coming out “about the same issues described in the Dec. 22 email,” according to the lawsuit.

The CBC has spoken to a number of government whistleblowers, as well children who used to be in government care, who allege mistreatment on the part of government employees.

The issue has dominated this sitting of the Yukon legislative assembly. The government says it’s doing its own internal review. The Yukon’s Child and Youth Advocate has also promised her own independent review.

CBC also first reported on Parker being let go and published portions of what appears to be the same Dec. 22 email.

Last week Deputy Minister Stephen Samis and Leeann Kayseas, acting manager of family services, held a press conference to address some of the concerns that had been raised in the media and denied many of the allegations that have been levelled against the department.

In his lawsuit Parker says the suggestion by officials that the facts alleged in his email are not true and the denial of similar allegations by a former child in care has “inflicted psychological distress upon the plaintiff, thereby increasing the the impact of the rejection on probation and termination of employment.”

Parker says he has a medical condition that makes him “vulnerable to the psychological impacts of stress.”

He alleges the way his termination was handled as well as the statements from officials since then have made it more difficult for him to find a new job.

He is asking, among other things, for damages related to his wrongful dismissal, increased damages because of psychological distress, and moving costs.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com


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