Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner pleased with initial government response to group home report
Tue, Sep 10, 2019
Health and Social Services accepts all Commissioner’s recommendations & observations
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner (PIDC), Diane McLeod-McKay, is pleased that the Yukon Department of Health and Social Services (HSS) has accepted all the recommendations and observations she made in her Special Investigation Report, Allegations of Wrongdoing in the Delivery of Group Home Care, issued in April of this year.
McLeod-McKay has received letters from Health and Social Services in recent months, confirming that the department has accepted the recommendations and observations, and is undertaking and planning a number of steps in response to the report.
“The letters have indicated that Health and Social Services will fully analyze my report and will work with its partners to develop a comprehensive response,” said McLeod-McKay. “The department has committed to provide me with a detailed action plan for implementation of the recommendations and observations. This will include a review of all policies, processes and training, with special attention to discharge and transitional planning.”
In May 2018, McLeod-McKay received disclosures from Yukon government employees regarding the treatment of seven children and youth. Six allegations were made under the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act (PIDWA), which provides a tool for employees of Yukon public entities to disclose potential wrongdoings, while protecting them from possible reprisal for doing so.
McLeod-McKay’s investigation found wrongdoing arising from one of the allegations. When Health and Social Services employees evicted a youth-in-care from a group home without providing suitable alternative accommodation, they contravened provisions of the Child and Family Services Act and created a substantial and specific danger to the health or safety of the youth.
McLeod-McKay made eight recommendations to the department. These included a thorough investigation of the underlying cause of the wrongdoing, as well as a report detailing its findings and steps to be taken to ensure this type of wrongdoing will not recur. The recommendations also included a review of transition and discharge planning policies, and an evaluation of whether a plan should be established to accommodate children in an alternate location that ensures their safety and wellbeing when there is a group home bed shortage.
The recommendations include timelines. The department was asked to provide McLeod-McKay with a copy of the investigation report by October 10. The department was also asked to provide her with evidence that it met the remaining recommendations within 12 or 18 months, depending on the recommendation in question.
McLeod-McKay made a number of observations in her report, including that the department consider evaluating and/or improving some of its policies and procedures, and that staff receive training on any changes made. She also suggested that the department consider working with her office on developing proper procedures to manage disclosures under PIDWA.
More detail on the recommendations and observations can be found in the portion of McLeod-McKay’s report that is publicly available at www.ombudsman.yk.ca/PIDWA-Report.
The Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is an independent officer of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. For more information, please go to http://www.ombudsman.yk.ca/.
Office of the Yukon Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner & Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
867-332-4555 (voicemail currently unavailable)