Early this morning, March 21, 2016, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal received a formal complaint naming the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) Minister, Stephanie Cadieux as a defendant. The complainant, from Surrey, B.C., alleges discrimination to person with a disability prohibited under the B.C. Human Rights Code and retaliation from other named defendants following the filing of the original complaint. Respondent, Stephanie Cadieux, was added today in an amendment to the original filing.
The complainant, a young man in his early thirties, alleges Minister Stephanie Cadieux’s actions, and/or inactions, contributed to the distress and trauma caused to himself and his young child. To protect the identity of the minor child, persons in this story cannot be named until such time as the Tribunal renders its decision.
The challenge facing the complainant to include Stephanie Cadieux as a respondent was an arduous journey of case precedent decision research. One case was handed down by Supreme Court Justice, Paul Walker in 2015. This case law precedent [2015 BCSC 1216] ruled that the respondents were guilty of and liable for misfeasance, “failure in as much as ‘egregious,’ negligent and breach of duty and said some social workers showed a “reckless disregard for their obligation to protect children.”
“I’ve had severe distress and trauma that resulted in sleepless nights and nightmares for weeks because of the hell this MCFD has put me though”, stated the complainant.”
The complainant sent an email to the Examiner that reveals how much trauma and confusion is caused when a young child is apprehended and placed in foster care instead of with a family member. Email: “I was walking down the road with my daughter on our way to the Dairy Queen to celebrate my birthday and my child stops and picks a flower. She looks up to me and says, “Here Daddy, can you give this to Mommy for me and tell her I love her because I can’t see her anymore but you can go to her house and give this to her for me.” Tears rolled down my face as my daughter proceeded to ask me, “Daddy, where is Mommy?”
The complainant insists MCFD minister, Stephanie Cadieux is the employer of the MCFD Director, the case social workers, and the worker’s immediate ‘Team Leader’ supervisor. The complainant alleges that Stephanie Cadieux failed to implement policies that would prevent social workers from abusing their power – as to act in such a manner to discriminate on a prohibited ground of disability governed by, and prohibited under the Human Rights Code. Complainant suggests that, “Stephanie Cadieux’s inaction to protect his human rights and freedoms, bears the same and equal weight as if she directly violated his human rights and freedoms protected under the Tribunal Code.”
The complainant says he has endured “a psychological feeling of hopelessness in his daily life ever since his young daughter was apprehended, and is stressed because of the ongoing abuse of power and authority by social workers.”
Working long hours to deal with this case, the young complainant suggests that the MCFD and Stephanie Cadieux are guilty of nonfeasance. “The respondents are liable for this tort because it describes inaction that allows or results in harm to a person. In this complaint, an act of nonfeasance resulted in liability because the respondents owed a duty of care toward the injured person, and the respondents failed to act on that duty that resulted in injury,” said the complainant.
Numerous people have contacted the Examiner over the past weeks to tell their story – each case resembling countless others. A trend or pattern of abuse of the MCFD’s power and authority has caused untold horrors and trauma to not only the parents and relatives, but more importantly, the apprehended child. The ministry social workers in this ‘subject’ case filed with the Tribunal, rings of “jumping the gun” and rushing to have the child adopted. One court document received by the Examiner, has a social worker stating to the court: “If the Director is successful in receiving this ‘Continuing Custody Order’ we will be seeking an open adoption of this child that will supply her with a permanent and stable home but allow her access to family of origin.”
One issue of grave concern for many parents – who have had their children apprehended by the MCFD, reveals a frightening matter of foster care. In smaller communities scattered around B.C., some social workers are friends with foster parents who want to adopt the child placed in their care. Even though the MCFD states in their policies that, “Children are better off when they are cared for by their families,” a conflict of interest often arises when the social service worker and foster parent live in the same community. In some instances, the two have gone to school together, are members of the same service groups, and are friends.
The complainant in this case has experienced similar situations where an alleged conflict of interest is in the forefront on matters involving his child – the social worker wanting to place the child up for adoption. The MCFD has demanded that the complainant adhere to a “list of expectations” before the ministry will consider returning child. In the complaint to the Tribunal the complainant states:
“Although this “list of expectations” reveals, to a greater or lesser degree, what would appear to be in the best interests of the Childs’s safety and well-being, it is discriminatory due to the fact that this would not be asked of other persons with other disabilities. This latter statement implies “bias, stereotyping, social stigma, and discrimination.”
One of several case law precedents the complainant cited, reveals: “The factors cited in Law should not be read literally as if they were legislation, but as a way of focusing on the central concern of S.1 identified in “ANDREWS” combatting discrimination, defined in terms of perpetuating disadvantages and stereotyping (which often leads to discrimination on a prohibited ground).” Another case law precedent refers to:
“There is a right to the security of the person, which consists of rights to privacy of the body and its health and of the right protecting the “psychological integrity” of an individual. That is, the right protects against significant government-inflicted harm/stress to the mental state of the individual. [Blencoe v. B.C. Human Rights Commission – 2000].”
And: “[ANDREWS, supra note 23 at 174] (Andrews v. Law Society of British Columbia)  IS. C.R. 143 [ANDREW]: “… a distinction, whether intentional or not, but based on grounds relating to personal characteristics of the individual or group, which has the effect of imposing burdens, obligations, or disadvantages on such individual or group not imposed upon others, or which withholds or limits “access or opportunities”, benefits, and advantages available to other members of society.”
The submission filed this morning to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal naming Stephanie Cadieux, is a lengthy, comprehensive document with far-reaching ramifications should the Tribunal decide in the complainant’s favour. The Ministry of Children and Family Development has been surrounded by controversy recently due to several shocking deaths while youth were in the Ministry’s care, and/or shortly thereafter when the child “ages out” of the Ministry’s care and is left to “sink or swim” on their own.