The Yukon government is once again facing allegations of mistreatment in the territory’s group homes.
This comes following the latest CBC report alleging that a manager at Family and Children’s Services who raised concerns about youth in care no longer works for the government.
According to the CBC report, Jarrett Parker was let go after his extended probationary period expired with the government.
No one is saying why Parker was let go — the government insists it can’t discuss personnel matters — but CBC claims to have obtained an email from late last year to assistant deputy minister Brenda Lee Doyle where Parker lays out his concerns about how children are being treated.
The full text of the email has not been made public.
According to the CBC, Parker tells Doyle of times he says high risk youth were denied care or made to wait for beds unnecessarily.
He questioned whether the government was “set up to provide services to high risk youth who have emergency or immediate housing and support needs” of children who need protection under the Child and Family Services Act, the CBC says.
The issue of the treatment of children in Yukon government group homes has dominated much of question period this sitting. Government whistleblowers as well as former children in care have come to the CBC alleging mistreatment.
Yukon Liberal ministers have repeatedly called for public servants to speak up about what they know, promising that those who speak to their supervisors will not face reprisal.
The suggestion that someone was let go after raising concerns to a superior led to more questions in question period April 12.
“Why would any public servant follow the minister’s advice after seeing what has happened to this one employee?” NDP MLA Kate White asked.
Richard Mostyn, the minister responsible for the public service commission, said he was committed to building trust within the civil service. He said he respects the media but also has “every confidence in the HR professionals in this government.”
“They do not act impetuously, they do so methodically and well. I am committed to changing the legacy of fear in this government…. I encourage employees who have serious concerns to come forward to their supervisor, to their deputy, to the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing (Act) commissioner and make those claims — please bring those concerns forward.”
White asked if Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost had seen the December email and what she had done about it.
Frost replied that she has “received multiple e-mails” that are anonymous. “If there is substantial information in there that we are obligated to follow up on or follow through on, we will do just that and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” she said without providing specifics.
The email relied on by the CBC is not anonymous.
Speaking to reporters following question period, Mostyn reiterated his trust in the government HR process and said he stands by his promise that civil servants who come forward with concerns will not face reprisal.
“In light of the media report this morning, no I am not at all concerned that our civil servants are not following the direction that we’ve set.”
To date the elected officials have done most of the talking from the government’s side.
Officials now say the deputy minister of health and social services and the acting manager of family services will be holding a press conference this afternoon.
CBC says Parker has filed an appeal.
Contact Ashley Joannou at firstname.lastname@example.org