Pubdate: Sat, 22 Oct 2016
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Camille Bains
Page: A22


Father hopes to make care for youth a ballot-box issue in next

This government has had 10 years to do something and they haven't done

The father of a 15-year-old drug-addicted boy whose death has sparked
calls for government-funded services says he will push for change in
the run-up to a provincial election so other youth can get the help
they desperately need.

Peter Lang spoke out Thursday after British Columbia's representative
for children and youth released a report on his son's June 2015 death.

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond made the same recommendation for
comprehensive government support involving another case five months

She said in the current report that the system should include
community-based and residential treatment services, along with
selective use of secure care that would allow youth to be
involuntarily placed in a facility to keep them safe.

Lang said he and his ex-wife Linda Tenpas tried everything they could
to get help for their son Nick Lang, whose behaviour began changing in
Grade 4 before spiralling out of control starting with marijuana use
that escalated to methamphetamine.

Lang, a deputy warden with the Correctional Service of Canada, said
the teen was reluctant to voluntarily receive help and the pair was
forced to try the youth justice system as a last resort after the teen
assaulted his mother in April 2015.

The Metis teen pleaded guilty to assault and was ordered to attend
rehab funded by the Children's Ministry at a facility in the Vancouver
Island community of Campbell River.

On June 9, 2015, six days after starting the program, Nick was found
hanging in a bedroom closet in the care home where he was staying. A
coroner's investigation did not determine a cause of death, and
Turpel-Lafond's office said it may never be known.

Turpel-Lafond said in her report that Nick, who was described by a
teacher as "a little kid with a big heart," lived with his
well-functioning middle-class family near Vancouver, but there were no
Metis-specific services available despite his parents' efforts to get
him into such a treatment program.

"Nick's very capable parents did not manage to find a public treatment
program that could help him that didn't also have a significant wait
list and they couldn't afford the private facilities that would accept
him right away."

Lang said many other parents who are also trying to get treatment for
their children have contacted him for support.

"I will continue to raise his case as an example of how the system
failed," Lang said, adding he plans to meet on the weekend with the
Opposition NDP critic of the Children's Ministry.

"I'm not a member of any party and I don't have any assurances that
they would do anything different, but this government has had 10 years
to do something and they haven't done it," he said of the Liberals,
who will vie for a fifth consecutive term in office next May.

Children's Minister Stephanie Cadieux said she will discuss with other
ministries how Turpel-Lafond's report might lead to service

She said the government has convened a cross-ministry cabinet working
group on mental health and substance-use services in an effort to
address gaps in the system.

Lang and Tenpas have also filed a civil lawsuit against the province,
alleging their son received inadequate supervision while he was in
care. Deputy children's representative Dawn Thomas-Wightman said a
youth court judge ordered the teen be provided with an intensive
support and supervision worker for Metis youth, but that did not happen.

"Some recent research around Metis services across Canada basically
found what our report found - that there's a glaring lack of services
that are Metis-specific for Metis children and youth.
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