MR. CHAIRMAN: Good morning, I welcome you to the Standing Committee on Community Services. For the record, we will go around the table for introductions and get the substitute members to say who they are filling in for.
[The committee members introduced themselves.]
MR. CHAIRMAN: The topic we will be discussing today is secure treatment. At this time I would like to welcome the presenters to the committee and ask that they introduce themselves to the committee and then we will turn this portion of the meeting over to them.
MR. BOB FOWLER: Mr. Chairman, my name is Bob Fowler and I am the Assistant Deputy Minister for the Department of Community Services.
MS. DEBRA BURRIS: My name is Debra Burris and I am the provincial coordinator for children's residential facilities for the Department of Community Services.
MR. GEORGE HUDSON: Good morning. I am George Hudson, the Executive Director of Finance and Administration for the Department of Community Services.
MR. STEVE BONE: I am Steve Bone, a communications adviser at the Department of Community Services.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Who is the first presenter? Mr. Fowler.
MR. FOWLER: Mr. Chairman, members, I might add that Victoria Wood, who is our Director of Child Welfare, would have been with us today but she is off on a little bit of a holiday. I would like to start by saying that we are thrilled to be here. We have been through, over the last year, certainly with my colleagues, a process in the Town of Truro dealing with the siting of this particular facility.
What we would like to do today is take you through a short presentation, which you have in front of you, that will deal a little bit with the bricks and mortar side of it in terms of where we are in the process. Then I would propose, if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman, for the last five or 10 minutes, to turn it over to my colleague, Ms. Burris, who is manager of our children's residential services, to talk about the program and then we are at your pleasure from there.
If you don't mind, they did mike me. I like to stand, if you don't mind. I hope I don't get behind anybody here, that bothers them.
What you have in front of you here is an artist's rendition of what the facility would look like. I caution you, this isn't the final design. We are in the final throws of getting as-built drawings done and all of the good, technical things, but, to give you an idea, that is what it is, obviously, a single-storey building.
What we have done over the last year, in the fall of way back in 1997, there was an announcement that a secure treatment facility would be built in the Truro location. In the fall of 1999, the former Deputy Minister of the Department of Community Services began a process with the Town of Truro to talk about the secure treatment facility. As most of you may be aware, or maybe aren't aware, in Truro, the Province of Nova Scotia owns a little over 100 acre plot of land located - and its hallmark property on it, it would have been the former Nova Scotia Residential School which was two buildings, actually, the residential centre itself, and an academic centre. That building closed in 1997 and the buildings, basically, have sat dormant since that point in time, but have been maintained. All along, once it was announced that we would go to Truro, the plan was to renovate the buildings and, in fact, use what was the academic centre, the school, and convert it at a cost estimated to be about $4 million, into the secure treatment facility.
As we began our discussions and continue the discussions started by the former deputy minister and minister, we met with the Town of Truro. We also put a call out within government to see if there was any other interest in the physical attributes of those buildings located on that site. As it turned out, the Department of Education was required to look for a new location for the French school that was located at the CEC facility. They, in fact, had to eventually move on, so the Deputy Minister of Education came up with us to Truro, met with town council, looked at the facility and, in fact, what happened within a period of about a month, the Department of Education took over responsibility for the bottom piece of this land, this 100 acres, which contained the two buildings and, in fact, in a matter of weeks, had
the French school operating, as I understand it, at almost no cost; they just basically moved in. So instead of having to build a facility or locate another one or rent it, they basically took over a government-owned asset.
The advantage to us for that was it allowed us to look at a purpose-built facility as opposed to a retrofitted facility. We had already had discussions with the town about the upper part of this acreage. The orientation of this is a little confusing. If you were in downtown Truro, along by the railway tracks, you would be down here. This is on the other side of the tracks. Victoria Park would be over here, if you are familiar with Truro. So it is a very similar profile of land. It goes up the hills. There is a residential development here, Victoria Park is here. In fact, this area right up here, this path you can see in this, is actually a roadway into Victoria Park.
So we talked with the town about where we might site on this 100 acres. What we have come up with is the residential school would be down here, the profile of this land is very much like this. It goes up the hill very steeply. This is called Wood Street. You can see where the residential development stops at the bottom of Wood Street, and this is the proposed location of the secure treatment facility. So if you are, again, at Wood Street, if you keep going up here, you end up at the town's water tower and Victoria Park. If you drove up here today to look at this, this, historically, has been a turnaround where people went up - some would call it a look-off, I guess. That is the site of land that we have had specs from a land development perspective, from a drainage perspective and all those good things. This is the announced site of where we will build the facility.
We have had a series of three public meetings, plus there were some ministerial announcements about the French school last summer, with the residents of Truro, ranging in attendance from 30 to 50; we sent out mail-drops to the community and said, come learn about secure treatment; we have a number of people on an e-mail list that we e-mail information to because of expressed ongoing interest in it. We end up with this facility at the top of the hill.
This is, again, the artist's rendition of the facility. You are looking down the hill, over the Town of Truro. This is the residential component of the building. This is administration. This is roughly what the building looks like inside. Again, a residential 20-bed facility. In addition to the 20 beds, it is a co-ed facility. Debra will talk a little bit more about the children and so on in a few minutes. The administration entrance for the kids and their workers who are with them, the public entrance to the building as well, counselling, different types of offices like this, an activity room - not a full gymnasium obviously but an activity room - and other administrative offices.
This yellow unit is a family unit. This allows us, if in fact there is some hope of re-integration with the family, the family can come stay here, the young person can come down and spend a weekend or a few days here with their family, there are cooking facilities so they can basically be self-contained and away from the daily activities.
This building is designed in a way that entrance and egress to this kind of area, this common area, will be available to the community. We are hoping, actually, that there will be a good rapport with the community, with things like some volunteer participation, as well as public service groups, who might want to take secure treatment under their wing. We have talked about things, because of the slope of the land, everything from developing gardens to play areas. We are hoping to be able to develop some community partners to develop that goodwill around the centre.
We have been in significant discussions with the town, because there were issues about the condition of Wood Street. Wood Street is the street that goes into less than adequate paving at the top, there are sewer issues and so on, we have resolved all those very amicably with the town. The town has been a huge supporter of the facility. In fact, the mayor and council have both spoken out at all our public meetings, very favourably to the residents in terms of the facility and what it offers for the Town of Truro in terms of re-establishment of some of that history that was there with the residential school.
A one-level building, obviously, we have built it on the grade of the land, the mechanicals are either in the towers that were shown in the artist's rendition or down underneath, but basically from a security perspective it is a one-level building. I want to stress it is not a young offenders facility, it is a secure treatment facility and we are going to talk a little more about that in a few moments. It is a locked facility, but it is not a barred facility, to be very clear. Deb is going to talk a little bit about what all that means.
I think, unless my colleagues tell me there is anything in particular on the design, as we have gone along, as we have had some sense of what we want to do, we have shared the designs and the views with the citizens and asked for input, any concerns, all those types of things, so from our perspective, at least in what we hear from the public, it has been very positive, both approach and, at this point, endeavour.
On that note, what I would like to do for the next few minutes is turn it over to my colleague, Debra Burris, who is going to talk a bit about the actual program, the kids, the staff and that kind of thing. Thank you.
MS. BURRIS: Good morning, everyone. I just want to walk you very briefly through some of what I hope are some of the key issues for you, and that would be of interest. Beginning with wanting to express the notion that secure treatment is not a stand-alone, it is not just one piece, it is a piece of what we refer to as a continuum or range of services for children and their families who need intervention. That can start at a very early level, over
here with early intervention and prevention. It can run the gamut all the way through community supports or in-home supports, where someone may be working with a family and children in the home, it could be a day treatment program, it could be moving into a placement.
If a child needs an out-of-home placement, it could possibly be moving into a foster care scenario, and it almost moves up and around in a circle because the more intrusive we get, we are getting into residential placements. In our view, the secure treatment placement, when we get to that point, is the most intrusive level of service that we would offer within the continuum range of services.
I also want to point out that secure treatment service is, indeed, a service with a continuum of its own. So within what we envision to be secure treatment, it is not just a building, it is a continuum within itself. It has relationships with the community, with schools, with other residential facilities within the range of services. It has relationships with home and family and we really want to emphasize community work, work with families. As Bob pointed out, we have built into the actual building itself, a place where families can stay because we want to emphasize family work. There will be a connection to our other residential facilities, and possibly even foster care, because our staff will need to work with those other placement services with the children, when they have the children in the facility, but also when they are transitioning children back into their home communities.
I guess, overall, we just want to say that it is, in fact, not just a building. It is a whole range of services within and offered out of, but not necessarily exclusively in the building. What is secure treatment? We clearly see it as treatment focused and we see it as intensive treatment by highly trained professional staff, and that includes all kinds of clinical staff from professional youth care workers to clinical social workers, psychology, psychiatry. We believe that even though this building is lockable, as Bob told you, in fact, the security, in most respects, is provided through the staffing and through the treatment that, hopefully, will emanate from all aspects of this program. A primary goal would be to stabilize children and youth, and reintegration, back either to their families, where that is possible, or at least back to their home communities.
Just moving along as to what it is. It is time limited. By that we mean that there are caveats within the legislation. I should point out that when I refer to the legislation, I am talking about the Children and Family Services Act. I am talking about the child welfare legislation that governs us in all of our dealings with respect to children and families, as far as child welfare is concerned. The way the Act is laid out, it basically has a 5 day, 30 day and 90 day-plus. So the five day admission to the program would be under a ministerial certificate that is only good for 30 days. If a child is placed in secure treatment under one of those certificates, they cannot remain there beyond the five days unless an agency takes the matter before the Family Court, under the child welfare legislation, and asks for an extension to 30 days.
I also want to say that in respect to the legislation, the way the legislation is written, it is not merely a matter of going to court and saying we want Johnny to stay. The agency has to show that Johnny has a behavioural and/or emotional disorder. They have to show that they need to confine the child in order to treat or alleviate that problem. They need to be able to show that Johnny is unable or unwilling to consent to his own treatment. So those are some of the caveats. So then if they want to go beyond the 30 days and there is a belief and the assessment shows that the child needs to stay beyond that, again, to go to a 90 day time frame, they would then have to, again, go back to the court. Each one of these, beyond the five day certificate, is court based.
What isn't it? What it isn't is we don't believe it is going to necessarily be a cure-all or a panacea. We do hope that it will help a large number of children, but we don't believe it is necessarily the cure-all, which is why it is embedded in a continuum of services. As Bob said, it is not a young offender facility. We clarify that because that has been asked; on many occasions, it has come up. Nor is it intended to be an alternative to a young offender facility.
I should also say however that it is quite conceivable that we would have children in the secure treatment facility itself, under a secure treatment order, who would have had findings of guilt under the young offenders legislation, but they are not there because they were found guilty of an offence under the Young Offenders Act.
So, who are the children? I want to put a caveat around this in that without having a facility, we don't know explicitly, definitively, who. We do know who our clientele have been, so we do know that the children will be children with serious emotional or behavioural problems. We do believe that they will be children similar to those who were resident in the Nova Scotia Residential Centre when it existed in Truro until its closure.
I think the other thing that we do know about these children is that many of these children have come into our system, into our care because of abuse and neglect. They are generally children who don't trust very well. We also have looked at some other programs in Canada, and there aren't many of them, but we looked at one from Calgary, Alberta, and it was interesting that the issues that they had identified as the ones that they saw, the challenging behaviours were things like self-harm, attempted suicide, children exhibiting out of control or extreme defiance, addictions issues, children who were running a lot - in other words, we couldn't maintain them in a residential program in our foster home system - or children who are living in unsafe conditions. Those were what they found. My guess is that we will find similar types of behaviours and challenges facing us.
I just wanted to give you a quick overview of the staffing that we are looking at. First I wanted to say that this will be very much a professional, multidisciplinary staffing approach to provision of this service. This is a highly staffed program. It will have a manager who is responsible; it will also have a clinical social worker on staff; and it will have a nurse on staff. We will have contracted clinical services because we want to make sure that we have
the services available to us of psychiatry and psychology. It will have a large component of youth care staff and unit supervisors who will supervise those staff, and we will have teachers on staff as well. Staff in our model will all work together, they are all part of the treatment team. It is not just one or two, they will all work together, bringing their own expertise, blending their own expertise in the best interests of working with these children with the most positive outcomes. I think that is just about it. Thank you.
MR. FOWLER: That represents our presentation, Mr. Chairman. We are open to your questions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We will go around the table and ask questions, and maybe I can just caution the members that we keep our questions, the first time around, to a minimum, keep them short and then maybe the answers can be short and that will give us a chance to go around maybe a couple of times. I will start with Mr. Pye, to my right.
MR. JERRY PYE: I don't know if I can possibly be short. That is the problem here. I think back in 1999, I became familiar with some organizations - parent organizations - who were quite concerned, particularly because they had children with severe behavioural and emotional problems. I don't know if the department has been in contact with some of those organizations, but I am sure they have been. KIN, in particular, comes to mind, which is Kids In Need and I do know that back in 1999 we had a meeting at the Sackville Lions Centre with a number of parents and grandparents, or guardians, with children in need and they expressed a number of particular problems around not having sufficient secure treatment facilities or units available in Nova Scotia. At that time, some 20 to 25 children were out of the province; some, I believe, in the United States, a couple for sure, and the rest were in provinces as far away as British Columbia. This was an extremely difficult process, particularly for parents to have that connect that they need with their children, and so on, through these very emotional problems.
I see that the new secure treatment centre in Truro recommends some 20 beds. I still think today, Mr. Chairman, that there are still some 25 children who might very well be out of province. So you are not going to address all that particular problem. Also, there is a continued growth of children in the Province of Nova Scotia with severe emotional and behavioural problems. I guess I am wondering if, in fact, and my first question will be - and I will keep my questions brief so that it goes around and then I have some other questions that I want to ask.
My first question would be an important question. Is it the intent of the Department of Community Services to be able to one day provide sufficient units and facilities for children with severe behavioural and emotional problems so that they can all live in the province where, in fact, they have grown up and so that they have a closer connect to their
parents? I guess that would be the one question. The other part of that question should actually be first. Have you had consultation with those stakeholders out there in the community - namely the parents, the foster parents and the guardians of these children - with respect to the structuring of the new secure treatment centre in Truro?
MR. FOWLER: Secure treatment, in terms of the 20 beds, was based on a judgment we made when we looked at the marketplace. Debra talked about the fact that this is part of a continuum. This is not the be-all and end-all in terms of a facility, it is a piece of that continuum. I should also note that the kids that are involved, this is the Children and Family Services Act that we are talking about, so it is kids in the care of the minister. So it is not necessarily my children, if they weren't in care, or whatever. The issue of providing a number of the broader services around a better mental health system for kids would be the subject of the announcement the Ministers of Health and Community Services made one week ago, where we are trying to look at how we provide better services in that continuum as well. This is specific to the kids, either through voluntary or through apprehended care. We have responsibility for as, basically, their parent. So it is under that Act.
In terms of kids out of province, I don't think we have ever stated - I hope we haven't - that, in fact, this will eliminate kids being sent out of province, because there are specialized treatment facilities available in some jurisdictions that we presently don't have in Nova Scotia or may never have the critical mass to operate here. So it won't eliminate it, but we would suggest, if we are successful - which we believe we certainly will be - in renovating this whole continuum with secure treatment being an integral part that, in fact, yes, we will be able to limit the number that go out and provide better services and couple that with, hopefully, enhanced mental health services, particularly in terms of the children's mental health services review, that those two things augmenting each other will make a better system for kids and their families.
Your other question, in terms of stakeholders, we in fact did meet specifically, invited in the group you named earlier in your remarks, Mr. Pye, and talked with them about some of their concerns about secure treatment and so on. We have had an ongoing, open dialogue with anybody who wants to come forward to us.
MS. BURRIS: If I just might add to that, we are, right now, in the process of trying to set up a whole series of consultations with a whole large number of stakeholders right across the province. We want to gain their input as to what this program would look like inside for them, how they see it. We certainly did get some of that feedback when we met with residents of the town. I found that particularly, from a programming perspective, very helpful; they helped me clarify some of the issues. Our plan at this point is throughout the latter part of May and June, the initial round of consultations with stakeholders will begin in the province.
The other thing I would add to Bob's comments is that in tandem with the announcement with respect to children's mental health services, we have been doing a tremendous amount of work in the department around redesigning and enhancing residential services across the board. Secure treatment is a part of that but looking at a whole range of services, we just recently brought in a comprehensive set of new provincial program standards and we have enhanced our whole licensing system. We are looking at reviewing residential mandates and what does that mean and how do they compose and make up a continuum of residential care. I believe that secure treatment is the most intrusive, it should be used lightly. We are, in fact, taking child's rights of movement away and so we want to make sure that we have a continuum that is there to respond to these children, beyond just a secure treatment program.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Samson.
MR. MICHEL SAMSON: I can't believe that Mr. Pye is already done.
MR. PYE: No, I'm not. I was told to be limited. It will go around again.
MR. SAMSON: I was just curious, how many children are currently outside Nova Scotia under the minister's care?
MR. FOWLER: It was 29 the last time I looked at the numbers.
MR. SAMSON: You indicated that even with this new facility there will still be a need to send children outside the province to get specialized treatment. What kind of treatment would that be and why don't we have it here, I guess, is the question?
MS. BURRIS: I will take a stab at that. One that comes to mind for me would be a treatment program specifically designed for adolescent sexual offenders. We do not have that in the province at this point. We have had children going out of province into those types of programs. That still could continue, even with secure treatment, because the treatment approach for that group of children is unique and different. It is not captured in an overall residential program, it needs to be specific to meet their needs. That is one that comes to mind.
MR. SAMSON: Which province, for example, would offer that particular program?
MS. BURRIS: We have had children going to B.C., they actually have one. I believe we have had children going to Ontario as well. Most of the provinces, again, don't have that program and more provinces in the last couple of years have been developing those programs.
MR. SAMSON: Has the Province of Nova Scotia been doing anything to develop some of these programs?
MS. BURRIS: We have certainly looked at that and thought about that. We haven't advanced on any kind of movement towards developing a program at this point, but we certainly have talked about and looked at some of the needs around that.
MR. SAMSON: This facility will house up to 20 kids at a time. When you say kids I take it that is anywhere from the age of zero to, is it 16 or 17?
MS. BURRIS: Actually, children in care can go up to the age of 21 but in children's residential facilities it generally goes up to 19.
MR. SAMSON: But Children's Aid doesn't have any authority after the age of 16 or 17?
MS. BURRIS: That is the children welfare legislation so in terms of our ability to bring a child into the care of the minister - the children, under the child welfare legislation, is defined as a person under the age 16, so for child protection purposes, yes, the cut-off would be once the child reaches their 16th birthday, if they are not already in care.
MR. SAMSON: The way you have laid out the facility, as a one-level unit, is there room for expansion should that need come down the road?
MS. BURRIS: Yes.
MR. FOWLER: Yes, it is designed for the piece of land that we are on and its natural configuration with the water course behind it and so on; it is not a stream, it is just a water course that dips like this, to the contour of the land. We have allowed for expansion in two ways. One, if we ever did want to expand on a residential basis, but our feeling today, quite frankly, would be that is not likely, however, we have also allowed provision for additional outpatient services. The notion that if the synergy of this building created the opportunity for people coming for day treatment and so, that we, in fact, could add that to it and the building will be built in such a way that it doesn't have to be retrofitted to allow that, there will be deadheads in the walls to allow that kind of add-on.
MR. BONE: You can see the space for an addition.
MR. FOWLER: There is actually another one in the front, too, I think.
MS. BURRIS: Yes, there is.
MR. SAMSON: I am just curious, has construction started on the facility?
MR. FOWLER: No, we haven't. We are in the final stages of design. Last fall we issued the design contract. The design contract had a provision in it to have a person, an expert in the field, involved with the architect. That group has now gotten their design settled, we are just dealing with the little, let's make sure we are absolutely right. We would expect a tender in June.
MR. SAMSON: And complete construction by when?
MR. FOWLER: We would expect to be open early in the new calendar year. We had originally said we hoped to be open by the fall, but we have had lengthy discussions to make sure we did the consultation with the town, and that did slow us down a little more than we would have liked. You might also be aware, if you have seen the papers this week, there is an ad in the paper for the manager. We are anxious to recruit that person. It closes, I think, on the 22nd. We are hoping we can have somebody on strength by July 1st. That person will then take ownership of how the building comes together, and the beginning of the recruitment of staff, based on the projected opening dates. All things being considered with weather, we hope to be open in January, February.
MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Fowler, or it may have to go to Ms. Burris, I am interested in the staffing of the centre itself. In your presentation, you said that there will be a professional multidisciplinary staff. One of the things that concerns me is the contract of clinical services. There will not be a psychiatrist or a psychologist based at that centre, is that correct?
MS. BURRIS: My hope would be, and we are going to be meeting with our mental health colleagues again, hopefully in May, that the psychologist would be on contract full-time, because we know we are going to need those services. Our intention would be to have a psychologist on a full-time contract with us. We are hoping that we will have a psychiatrist that would again be there on a retainer with us. We want people to be consistent, what we don't want is to have various and sundry psychologists or psychiatrists. We want to be able to engage people who are interested in working with the centre, with the children, so that those clinical staff can not only be a support and provide their clinical expertise to residents, but also can provide their clinical expertise vis-à-vis staff and programming and how it operates. We are hoping that it will be the same consistent folks.
MR. WILSON: So, there will not be a psychiatrist or a psychologist on-site?
MS. BURRIS: No, they will have offices on-site, we have designed it in a way . . .
MR. WILSON: But they won't be there, is that correct?
MS. BURRIS: Well, the psychologist, hopefully, will be. The psychiatrist probably won't be right on-site.
MR. WILSON: So, you are not sure at this point in time?
MR. FOWLER: We will contract for those services, Mr. Wilson. In other words, there will be core staff that will be our employees, the youth workers, the nurse, the various people, but what we are doing is this is not - I want to stress it again - a mental health facility, it is not a young offenders facility, it is not a mental health facility. The kids are there with mental health issues. We will access services either through contracted services and/or through accessing the health system, as we do now. We have an ongoing relationship with the IWK, in fact they are a contractor to us for one program, as well they provide mental health services and physical health services, obviously, to a number of the kids in our care.
MR. WILSON: What you are saying is that you will contract out services for either a psychiatrist or a psychologist, perhaps from Halifax, or both?
MR. FOWLER: Our discussions will be with the district health authority in the Truro area.
MR. WILSON: There are currently no psychiatrists in the Truro area, is that correct?
MR. FOWLER: I don't know that, sir.
MR. WILSON: There isn't. So you would be going elsewhere other than Truro?
MR. FOWLER: If that is what it takes. Those services will be available as we need them, but whether that . . .
MR. WILSON: Let me get directly to the point. The point I am getting to, Mr. Fowler, is that those services are currently not available in the Truro area.
MR. FOWLER: They would be available to our facility, is the best that I can tell you, one way or another. If that means . . .
MR. WILSON: Let me ask you then, and I would take it that we are dealing with children with severe problems here, and I am certainly no expert on mental health, but I would take it that those severe problems do not occur on a 9 to 5 basis? Is that correct?
MR. FOWLER: That is correct.
MR. WILSON: So if you are dealing with a problem that may arise at 3:00 a.m. or at 7:00 a.m., or at midnight, then these contracted-out services, which you are saying will be available, will they be on an on-call basis in terms of dealing with that when it occurs? Are you going to have a psychologist, a psychiatrist on-call who would be able to get to your facility within a matter of how long? Is that how the structure is going to work?
MS. BURRIS: I honestly can't tell you that we have sorted out all those details until we actually meet with our colleagues within Health to talk about what is available. I appreciate and hear your concern and I know there is a concern around availability, particularly of psychiatric services.
MR. WILSON: I think that has been a concern of parents, has it not?
MS. BURRIS: Oh, yes, and it is certainly a concern. Make no mistake, I wouldn't disagree with you on that. Until we have those conversations with them - I can tell you that I have spoken to a psychiatrist, quite frankly I don't remember exactly where he works out of, but he did do work with the Nova Scotia Residential Centre when they were in operation, and has in the past expressed interest in the new program. We certainly intend to speak with that individual. For right now, I hate being tentative, but we just really simply need to have those conversations with them to sort out what, indeed, could it look like, what services can they offer us.
MR. FOWLER: I want to stress here that we are talking about a highly skilled workforce that we are going to retain in terms of those youth workers. Youth workers are very highly skilled people with the proper orientation and we are confident - and yes, if there is a challenge in terms of the marketplace we are going to have to find a way to meet that challenge, but we believe that is very possible.
MR. WILSON: One final point. I guess what I am getting at here is that you said you have offices and so on; you are talking about talking to a psychiatrist who expressed some interest. We are not just leaving it up to psychiatrists and psychologists who might want to go down there and volunteer for this sort of program. In other words, there is going to be something in place that specifies whether it be hours or numbers or whatever the case may be and where they are coming from because I am sure, as your department is aware, sir, that you have built the facility in an area where some of the staffing needs cannot be met.
I would suggest, although, again, if you had built that facility somewhere else, in Halifax for instance, that those would be readily available to you. But in this case, the selection has been made for Truro and I am interested in that too, but I may come back and I am sure others will take care of it, as to why Truro was selected. Currently, there is a shortage in this province of psychiatrists and psychologists throughout the area, so I am just wondering how you will solve that problem. I hope you appreciate those questions, I know that it is a problem that you are dealing with. Thank you very much.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Chataway.
MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: Good morning everyone. I am very impressed with the presentation to date, and the questions as well. I think it is a wonderful thing and I think the main thing is, of course, it is being built in Nova Scotia and dealing with those problems that are basically as far as B.C. and other places in Canada. I think it is very important to not only the people you are dealing with but also their family.
If you go along in this regard, as long as the family is involved with things like that, you have a far better chance of getting a better solution. It is a wonderful thing. I understand you answered the question that basically, early next year, you have the facility for the door opening, et cetera, and things like that.
I think one of the things that you mentioned was that you have dealt with the Town of Truro and you have dealt with groups up there and maybe you could just review what you have done, because I think it is very important that if the town was going to be behind it all, you don't want the town to think of that as sort of a prison or that is something bad. You really want them to get behind that. It is very important in various schemes here, community, community; so you are very much depending on the community there. Do you have a permanent committee or do you just sit down with either part of the town or just a group of people there who are interested in how you are doing?
MR. FOWLER: I go back to the preliminary meeting that was held with the town and the former deputy minister in, I think, November 1999. I think there has been somewhere in the vicinity of 12 to 14 meetings since then, four of them in what I would call the public vein, where we have actually done mail drops through Canada Post or through advertisement on the radio and newspaper to attract people to come out. The most recent of those was in March. That is when we said, hearing no dissenters, we are going to build at the top of Wood Street and we go ahead.
We have a public Web site that is up now and accessible to everyone, which has things like that picture in it and so on and as details unfold, our plan and our commitment to the public in all of Nova Scotia, but particularly in Truro, was to make sure that we had current information up there. Once we recruit the manager, we are going to say that and so on, so people will have a face to identify with. We are talking about temporary office space in Truro and that area so there becomes a familiarity in all of those kinds of things.
In terms of a standing committee or an advisory committee, we posed that idea to the community at, I think, the very first public meeting and what people responded to wasn't so much that they wanted a standing committee, they just wanted us to keep them informed. So we asked people to sign up at the back of the room, let us know. We haven't rested on that. We make sure those people are contacted, but we also then put ads out whenever we go back out. Again, we would think there will be two or three more significant events as we go down
the road. We have told people that the facility, before it is commissioned, we will have an open house so they can go through it. We are more sensitive about not doing that once it is opened, because that is going to be the kids' temporary home so we don't want the public tramping through.
That kind of thing would be, Mr. Chataway, I think what we feel. We feel pretty good about it and if we have somebody who comes to us and has a concern, we have addressed it in a timely way, we believe.
MR. CHATAWAY: Obviously, the staff, when you are dealing with a person, you are going to decide which is the proper behaviour. It seems to me it is very willing of the people around the area to help out and help in whatever way they could. At least it has certainly been encouraged and they seem like they would be very helpful, if they were asked.
MR. FOWLER: We actually have some people who have said, put my name on the list when you open. If there is a job for volunteers, we would like to help. We actually have a few names that we have reserved for that.
MS. BURRIS: I would just like to add to that that I was involved with the residential centre just prior to its closure because I would have come into my position just prior to that. I have to tell you, I was always really impressed with the neighbours that were close to that residence. They were extremely supportive. It wouldn't be uncommon for them to pick up the telephone and call the manager up and say, excuse me, but don't you own child so and so. I think he is down the street now and I guess he is not supposed to be. They would say, you are absolutely right, and the staff would go out and respond to that.
Some of those same residents are still there and they remember those children and they remember the staff there. So I think what we would like to do is build on that, which is what we have tried to do through the town meetings. We have made ourselves accessible to them for that reason because we want to support and encourage that and recognize that that is extremely important and critical to the success of this program.
MR. FOWLER: Just as a small add-on - I don't want to take too much time - we visited Alberta - I didn't but some of our people did - and took pictures of the facility there in Alberta and it is in the midst of a community of $300,000 homes that are right next door and has peacefully coexisted for 12 or 15 years now. So the notion of community proximity is well accepted again. I look at Waterville, and look at what has happened around the young offenders' facility there, a community is growing around it. So, I don't think that, generally, once people think of the big picture, they are concerned about that.
MR. BONE: The Calgary facility actually has a toboggan hill next door that the neighbourhood kids all use.
MR. CHATAWAY: Well, you have a facility for a hill, you are on the hill. (Interruptions) Thank you for the chance to ask a few questions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Clarke.
MR. CECIL CLARKE: In the beginning of your presentation, I think I caught that there was going to be about $4 million to retrofit the existing facility, which an arrangement, subsequently, was made available to the French school. I missed the capital cost of this facility.
MR. FOWLER: It is the same $4 million that is in the budget of the Department of Transportation and Public Works this fiscal year.
MR. CLARKE: I think I know the answer, it is basically provincially tendered and provincially owned and under construction.
MR. FOWLER: That is correct.
MR. CLARKE: One other item for now. I know that issues of security, both for protection of the residents as well as the staff, there have been some negative connotations around the provision of services and that. Will this facility have an integrated sort of surveillance monitoring system for the protection of both the people there and the workers?
MS. BURRIS: Yes. This building is purely and simply designed with secure treatment in mind. The interesting comparison is the Hull program in Calgary, which was really a retrofit. They took an old building and turned it into secure treatment, whereas we have had, fortunately, the ability to design from the ground up, so to speak. It will have cameras, it has pretty much state of the art, in terms of cameras, security doors and security systems, they are all part of it.
MR. FOWLER: The placement of the parking lot so that staff leaving a night shift at 11:00 p.m. are in a lit area, some of that is because it is an undeveloped area, actually. It will probably be better when it is all fully developed.
MR. CLARKE: As you say, it isn't a barred facility, but if someone decides they want to exit by a window or something, it is all alarmed.
MS. BURRIS: What we have tried to do in the design of the building itself is think about any possibility of where a resident may try to exit without permission, or where staff may have to deal with that. We have tried to compensate, in the program design, for those things. They won't be able to just push open a window and walk out. Even the recreational space outside will be fenced in; it won't be like a prison fence but it will be fenced in so that
we would minimize the incidents where children would actually be able to leave the building without permission.
MR. CLARKE: My final question for now, it goes to the member for Cape Breton East's question. Compared to other Atlantic Provinces, have you compared other provinces, percentage wise, for the amount of outsourcing, like when you talked about the number of persons that have to be treated outside of the province, are other Atlantic Provinces - I wouldn't talk about other provinces outside our region - requiring that same need?
MR. FOWLER: Yes, I asked that very question. I can't tell you the numbers, but other jurisdictions do send them out.
MS. BURRIS: Yes, they do.
MR. FOWLER: I am just going to use that as an opportunity to say, bearing in mind what Debra said in her presentation, we are renovating the whole continuum, from our foster care system right through. We have challenges in our other residential components. We need to do things differently and in a better way. We recently opened a facility in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, just outside of New Glasgow. Again, it is working with our providers - in those cases they are by provider organizations - and we are working with them on how we resource them to be able to deal with the issues kids present.
You have to have a system that works all together, too, so that is where the importance of the mental health system - we are, in fact, a parent looking for services in a number of these. So all of that has to work together. That is why those joint initiatives are really important.
MR. BONE: Could I just add one point; I think, Deb, you were headed this way at one point. The Hull facility in Calgary, even though it is a retrofit facility, not purpose-built, in 13 years of operation they have had no walk-aways.
MS. BURRIS: Actually, it is 15 years. They have never had a child, what they call, escape.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Carey.
MR. JON CAREY: Just wondering, of the 29 who are in facilities outside of Nova Scotia now, how many will be coming to this facility or do you know that?
MS. BURRIS: It is a commonly asked question. I think we all asked it. In fact, I think Mr. Fowler asked me a long time ago, when he first came. For us, what will happen is we have to look at those children, not we as in the people at this table, but our child welfare agencies. What I wouldn't like to see happening is, I don't want to see children being brought
back just because we now have a program. These children will be entrenched in a treatment service and program. So, unless it would be in their best interest to bring them back to the province, I wouldn't necessarily see us doing that.
The other thing, bearing in mind that beyond the first five days, you have to go to court and prove to the Family Court judge, under our legislation, that that child should be placed in secure treatment. Some of those children, in fact the vast majority of those children out of province, are not in secure treatment facilities in other provinces. They are, in fact, in residential systems within other provinces or, I believe as you pointed point, in the United States.
MR. CAREY: Last question, staffing, again, and I understand that it is not set that you are working on it, but of these positions that are listed, how many would actually be full-time on the premises?
MS. BURRIS: Okay, of the staffing that I went through?
MR. CAREY: Yes.
MR. BURRIS: The manager would be full-time, of course. The clinical social worker would be full-time, the nurse would be full-time. The three unit supervisors - what we are calling unit supervisors, who would be directly responsible for the supervision of the youth care workers - would be full-time, as would all of the youth care workers. They will be our staff, they will be full-time. It works out to 29.7 FTEs in terms of the youth care workers themselves. So all of those positions will be full-time positions.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Chisholm
MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Chairman, I should apologize for being late. I missed the first part of your presentation. I had something else come up in my constituency I had to take care of, so I apologize for that. I guess the only question I would have - Jon asked one of the questions I was thinking about, the full-time equivalency, and you answered that - what is the projected, annual operating cost of that facility?
MR. FOWLER: It is $2 million.
MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: And the cost of the capital to . . .
MR. FOWLER: It costs $4 million to build it.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Pye.
MR. PYE: Mr. Chairman, now I guess I will pose a number of questions. First of all, I want to make a comment with respect to the physical facility itself in Truro. I would assume that the residents in Truro, who are going to be abutting or adjacent to this new facility, would have been quite pleased because I can tell you that I would have been quite pleased to have the secure treatment centre rather than the jail and forensic hospital in Dartmouth North. I want to tell you that I am pleased when I see the architectural rendition that, in fact, there are not gated fences around the thing because I think it is important to have that kind of security but it is also important to be extremely sensitive because the children that you are dealing with are children who have severe emotional and behavioural problems. I am sure the people in the Town of Truro understand that and they understand that there is a need to have a sort of home, family environment whereby that kind of intrusiveness is not taking place.
I want to talk about a number of things, first of all, with respect to the level of treatment centres. You now have a number of bed units in the Province of Nova Scotia and I talk about the Ray Allan Centre, I talk about the place in Dayspring and now I talk about the new facility in Plymouth. There are none on Cape Breton Island but you do provide counselling services on Cape Breton Island and now the new facility in Truro. I am wondering if, in fact, these facilities are going to provide differing levels of treatment, if in fact each of those facilities now are going to be redesigned, as you have said about reorganization and restructuring, if, in fact, they are going to be redesigned so that there are differing levels of treatment, for individuals with emotional - not severe - and behavioural problems. That is one of the questions that I would like you to go around.
The other question is with respect to ministerial certificates. Ministerial certificates, first of all, as I understand it, the child is through the court, recommended to be in the custody of the Department of Community Services Children's Aid Division. Then, if they are sent to a secure treatment centre, they are there for 30 days and in order to be there for an additional 30 days, they require an additional ministerial letter and so on. The point is that the maximum, I understand from the overheads, is that there is a 90 day period and then there must be some kind of a form that has to be completed to prove to the judge and to prove to the department that, in fact, this person is capable of leaving; how is that process worked out and when, in fact, do you shut the door on that person and say that they are no longer our responsibility.
The other concern that I have is with respect to parents who may find that they have a child with severe emotional and behavioural problems, who now call the policing service who have to walk in and take the child from the parent, the child is then locked up in a hotel or some secure facility until such time as that child may then be taken to court and awarded to the department of family services through Community Services. I would like to know how that process, if that process is now going to be eliminated, as a result we will no longer see children locked up for days in hotels under Correctional Services guards and/or policing
services by the municipal units or the RCMP, I would like to know if, in fact, that is going to be something that is going to cease as a result of this new, 20-unit facility.
If it is going to cease, how is the transportation of those individuals throughout the province going to be addressed? Are they going to be taken there by policing services? Is there some type of transportation service that the department offers? There are a number of issues around this that I can't possibly address today, but I do have a number of concerns. It will go around the table again, and I will hear other individuals who will probably bring more forward.
I want to tell you that this, to me, is very important. When I first became an elected member of the Legislature in 1998, some very concerned parents walked into my constituency office and the gut-wrenching stories they told me indicated that they needed help and that the department must help them and be prepared to provide the facilities that are going to address them. In summary, I have to say that I am pleased there is a reorganization, there is hopefully a new direction, and that that new direction takes into account all of their concerns with respect to their children, who they are going to have to rely upon the state to look after.
MR. FOWLER: There are a number of questions there, Mr. Chairman, and we will try in tandem to get them, but maybe I will start here. I just want to go back again to the announcement of last week about the review of the children's mental health services. That is a key factor here, Health and Community Services coming together. I don't believe any of us want to see kids have to go, either through apprehension or through voluntary care, into the care of a Children's Aid Society. We want to do it for the safety of the child, but we don't want to do it out of desperation for service. So the whole notion of how we make the whole system work better together is really important and that is why the ministers, I believe, have committed to the project underway, the mental health services review for kids.
In terms of our other facilities, when you ask, are we changing the programming in them? Yes. Are we physically retrofitting them? Some of them are brand new, obviously no. The whole notion that Debra talked about is we are looking at our whole continuum and when we have secure treatment, which will be our high-end facility, that allows for a release valve, if I may, when you need that. What we have to then say is if you are in this part of the program and this is the service you are providing in your local community, hopefully, close to the family, if there is any hope for family integration, then we want to make sure you have the right services there.
This renovation we are talking about is the whole system, again, for kids in care, kids that we have either under child protection or under voluntary care. I have talked to a few of the parents who have put their kids in voluntary care because they have lost hope, but that is the last thing they want to do. So some of that is also making sure services are available
in an integrated way between ourselves and the health system and so on. That is that one. I'll let Debra talk about their certificate process and the Family Court.
MS. BURRIS: I am going to back up a little bit. In terms of the redesign, one of the things I did want to say about Cape Breton is two things. They do have two small residential programs that are operated by the Children's Aid Society of Cape Breton and right now, as we speak, in fact, George Hudson and myself sit on a steering committee to redesign and their goal is to redesign their existing residential service. The interesting thing is that their notion is wonderful in that it is a continuum of services, including residential beds, but also including work with families and children while children are still in their homes, so it has more of an outreach preventive component to it.
MR. PYE: Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, for interjecting. But if you have two small residential facilities in Cape Breton, can I ask you to cite their locations?
MS. BURRIS: You are going to ask me streets and I can't remember. Right now they are called the Boys Residential Centre and the Girls Residential Centre. They have held a number of different names over the years. George, do you remember . . .
MR. FOWLER: There is one in New Waterford, I believe, and one on Charlotte Street. (Interruptions)
MR. HUDSON: There is one closed.
MR. FOWLER: The Children's Aid there, along with our regional administrator and his staff and our head office staff, George and Debra, are working with them to look at a new option for down there. They have a really very vibrant partnership at the community level around the continuum and they are doing a lot of neat things down there with their Youth Services Project. So that group is working actively and then Children's Aid will be a piece of it.
MS. BURRIS: I just wanted to highlight it because it is a really exciting project. On the certificate piece and the maximum 90 days, I think, as I indicated, there really isn't a maximum of 80 days. It basically goes five days maximum, 30 days maximum, 90 days maximum. But there is 90 days maximum in one order. But if you want to go back for a further order for 90 days, you can do that under the legislation, as far as we can read this, bearing in mind again that this piece of legislation has not been enacted. It has not been proclaimed. So we are interpreting it as we believe it will be interpreted. However, the courts could change that.
So what we have to do in terms of getting a certificate for 90 days, the way the legislation reads, you have to meet all the initial criteria, but you also have to show to the court that you have an appropriate and acceptable treatment plan for the child. My guess
would be that that will mean that you will have to prove to the court that this child needs to remain there in order to properly impact and effect their treatment plan overall as they progress and move beyond the secure care environment. The process, in some ways, is kind of dictated by the courts because the court will decide how long those orders exist. So they are court ordered.
Having said that, however, from a clinical or practicum response to that, it will be key for our staff, with the secure treatment team, to be able to work with whoever it is that child is going back to. Is that child going back to the family? If they are, one of the reasons we were so excited about putting in the family unit is that is key. The family will be able to come and the family won't have to bear the burden of the cost of coming, we will be able to accommodate that. It may mean, for the treatment team, to work with the family. It may mean the treatment team working with the child's placing social worker, because maybe the child is still in care, but the child is going back to a foster home or the child is going back to another residential program that is less intrusive and less structured, in which case they will have to work as a transitioning team to move those children back home.
That is the way I would envision it at this point. Again, bearing in mind that we will be hiring a program manager who will have to work with his or her team to develop those processes in really more of a finite process.
MR. FOWLER: You also asked about transportation services. Clearly, Children's Aid are the ones in charge of that child under the Family Court Order, so if a child, for instance, is to be moved from the Plymouth facility or the Cape Breton facility to secure treatment and back, the transportation is done by a trained social worker and all of the normal child welfare practices.
MR. PYE: The other question was with respect to the stay in hotels, children who are apprehended and then placed in hotels for a period of time.
MR. FOWLER: It is a rare occurrence but we know it does happen . . .
MR. PYE: Not quite as rare as you might think.
MR. FOWLER: In terms of apprehension, in terms of kids who are in our care that may be there, it does occur and there was some recent publicity about that in terms of the Bedford situation. We only do that in a crisis situation where because of the behaviour of the child or young person is so unacceptable that they disrupt everything around them. It is probably the classic example of where secure treatment will take an immediate pressure off because the minister does have the authority to place a child in the facility for five days. So even if you think of it as a cooling off period, it clearly will be a resource that our child welfare people are thirsting for because of some of the very difficult cases you spoke about, Mr. Pye.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Samson.
MR. SAMSON: I am just curious about the layout that you have which will have 20 beds. Are those all separate rooms or is there more than one bed . . .
MS. BURRIS: Oh yes.
MR. FOWLER: Individual rooms, one person per.
MR. SAMSON: Just a few questions about the site itself. My understanding is there has been quite a bit of work done by the town to prepare the site, sewer, curbs, gutters, storm drains. Am I correct in saying the town has put up a frontage charge of $100,500 against this property?
MR. FOWLER: That is correct. George, correct me if I am wrong.
MR. HUDSON: The total project to redevelop Wood Street would be in the range of $375,000.
MR. SAMSON: Is that . . .
MR. FOWLER: That is not all our costs.
MR. HUDSON: That is not all our costs, no. The $100,000 that you may be referring to is the property across the street. There is a property across the street near the . . .
MR. FOWLER: To get Wood Street up to standard, we had to go down into what is the residential area. The town put some money in to develop it. The land on the right-hand side of Wood Street is owned by a private individual and that would have a charge against it for future improvements, should it be developed. We will be paying our share of the charge as well.
MR. SAMSON: The gentleman on the other side of the street is quite concerned at the cost of this because my understanding is if he tries to sell his property, at that time he would be faced with the betterment charges because of the secure treatment facility going in, which I understand is somewhere in the range of $100,500, whereas his own property has a fair market value right now of only $50,000. I am just curious, is the province going to do anything to assist this particular gentleman or are they just going to let him hang out to dry because of the fact of what he will be faced with because of the facility being put there?
MR. FOWLER: I can't speak on the total factual matter. We did, in fact, meet with that individual at two of the public meetings. He was in discussions with the town administrator as well as the mayor, as to how that would be managed. It was recognized that
we were paying our share of the freight, if I may, to get the street upgraded, because it is in our interest because we need it plowed for accessibility, fire and all of those good things. I honestly couldn't tell you what the final discussions were with the town, although I do know there is an abutter charge that is there that he, as I understand it, the town was prepared to discuss in terms of how that would be managed. I do know what they said publicly was that they would carry it on their books until such time as the land - I'm not sure whether it was sold or developed, I honestly couldn't tell you, Mr. Samson.
MR. HUDSON: If I could add that the sewer system only goes to the street. So the project requires, as a minimum, the sewer system to be extended, that is the minimum requirement. However, the town, it is their street and the bylaw in question, with the betterment charges, is the town's bylaw and there are two options before them. It is the town's choice to take advantage of this opportunity to redevelop the whole street. The town has two options, one is to send the bill to the abutter today for $100,000 and as I understand it, the proposal to that property owner is for the town to carry that receivable.
The fair market value of his property will be significantly more than it is now because he will have water and sewer and a new street with concrete curbs and gutters. As I say, that is part of the discussion with the town and it was the town's choice to take advantage of the project.
MR. FOWLER: We weren't involved, would be the straight answer.
MR. SAMSON: I think you said right from the beginning that the land in question was owned by the Crown.
MR. FOWLER: That is correct.
MR. SAMSON: Is it correct that it has been deeded back to the town where the facility is going to be built?
MR. FOWLER: Where the facility is going to be built?
MR. SAMSON: Yes. The actual piece you are putting the facility on. Has that been deeded back to the Town of Truro?
MR. FOWLER: No, that is the piece that we will keep.
MR. SAMSON: Have you deeded any land in return over to the Town of Truro?
MR. FOWLER: No.
MR. SAMSON: So, there has been no transaction of Crown land over to Truro?
MR. FOWLER: No. I want to be careful because there may be things that I am not aware of, or we are not aware of, and let me tell you why. When we had the discussion about the academic building in the old residential school, there is a soccer field immediately above that - in fact, I guess it would be right about here - that is used by the town. There are discussions underway between Education, the town, and Transportation and Public Works about who wants that land and what would be the best configuration. The last I think I heard was that the town in fact may be deeded that.
MR. HUDSON: It is likely the town will be given administrative use. The town's recreation committee will be given administrative use of the soccer field.
MR. FOWLER: Where title will hold I am not sure, but that is an issue that is being worked out. The other thing is that this is the town's water tower. Obviously, to place our facility, we had to have T&PW survey the whole 100-plus acres. In fact, there is some land here that is of interest to the town, that in fact is owned by the Crown. There are discussions underway between the town and T&PW about those lands. But the land you see here, which is somewhere between 8 and 10 acres, will clearly be the secure treatment facility. We will own the building, we will own the land. This remaining - if you take out the academic buildings at the bottom, if you take out our piece, say 70 or 80 acres, is owned by T&PW and they would follow any normal process.
One of the things the town asked us in the public meetings is if this is available for residential development. Well, I suppose the province's position would be, make me an offer. If somebody wanted to buy that, the normal process would be if the Crown or Transportation and Public Works owns the land, they will ask other departments if they have any interest in the land. If they don't then they consider whether to land bank it and/or dispose of it.
MR. SAMSON: Just one other question. I notice in your layout that all of the residents will be housed in the same general area. Is that correct? I am just curious because I am dealing with a situation now where we have a particular troubled youth and it is a matter of finding the appropriate facility to put that individual in. There was a facility up in Cumberland County, I believe, that was identified but because of the fact that there was another youth in there who had even more serious problems than this child, they were not compatible and therefore they could not put them in that facility.
I am just curious, because of the fact that you have them all in the same area, is that problem going to come up again, that certain troubled youth will not be able to be put into this facility because of the fact that there is another resident in there who has a conflicting problem and therefore is going to deny that particular youth from being able to - I guess it comes down to, why have them all together and not possibly into different parts, depending on the particular circumstances? For example, not to get into too many specifics - I am sure you know more about these problems - but if a certain youth has a sexual disorder and then
there is another youth in there with a conflicting disorder also or issue, how are you going to deal with those situations because of the fact that they are all in the same area?
MS. BURRIS: Just to clarify, in terms of the layout, the orange sector, that whole end there is the living unit. It is divided into two pods, really, the left-hand side and the right-hand side. Each one of those will basically have a team that works around them. This program is designed for children with extreme behavioural and emotional disorders. They will bring all kinds of issues. The scenario you describe, it is difficult to explain, but each one of the facilities that currently exists in the province has a range of service and capability that they would offer to a range of children. Sometimes what happens is that they are not equipped to deal with a particular type of behaviour that is not within their programming to do.
Whereas, this program, first off, is much more highly staffed than any program we have currently, particularly in terms of the youth care staffing, that makes a big difference. To me, the significant difference in this program will be the number of youth care staff and the amount of clinical support that is wrapped around that program. That, in my mind, is what is kind of the difference. Whereas, when you get into our regular residential facilities, they don't have the level of staffing, sometimes, to mix those populations. There is an issue, though, around mixing populations, particularly when you are dealing with an adolescent sexual offender, that takes on a whole set of unique circumstances that you need to look at in the context of the risk to existing residents, I don't know your situation exactly, but that may be what transpired there.
MR. FOWLER: One of the advantages of purpose-built is that we get the best site lines, we get all the things that allow us to spend more time with the kids as opposed to watching the kids, if you know what I mean; in other words, hopefully more treatment. Obviously, the escape valve we have in the facility is the family unit, so if we had a child that needed to be brought into the facility gently, if I could, we could have staff there with them as well. The makeup of the two units will be important once we see the dynamics.
MS. BURRIS: People can look at this. That little pod thing, here in the centre, it looks kind of grey on the screen, is a staffing unit, like a supervisory office. That little office can see this whole unit. That is a good point that Bob made. This place is so much better equipped for sight vision. One of the things that we have been really focused on in the design is the ability to supervise with sight. There aren't a lot of nooks and crannies, and when you are dealing with children with this magnitude of issues and challenges, you need to be able to supervise by sight as well as hands-on.
Again, because it was designed specifically for this clientele, the ability to see children in this layout is phenomenal, and that does impact their ability to take on more challenging children, even those who would have the equal level of challenges presenting us.
MR. FOWLER: Nighttime is not just custodial, we are going to have staff there so that if a child acts out at night we have somebody there to work with them. We are paying a price for that; that is one of the reasons it is an expensive facility.
MS. BURRIS: I know I keep jumping back to the mike, I am sorry. Steve just raised a point that I think is really important. The other part that is in that living unit is what we are calling two high-level security bedrooms. They are part of that unit. If you had a child, for example, that was going out of control in a really extreme way or was really upset, something had happened to that child or in that child's life, you can remove them from the general populous. Those rooms are up here at these ends.
MR. WILSON: Mr. Chairman, just a few questions. You mentioned that the operating cost was $2 million, is that correct?
MR. FOWLER: Yes, that is correct, for a full year.
MR. WILSON: The Department of Community Services is responsible for this centre, is that correct?
MR. FOWLER: That is correct, sir.
MR. WILSON: That would be out of their budget entirely?
MR. FOWLER: That is correct, sir.
MR. WILSON: I think it was Ms. Burris who said this takes in Mental Health Services, Justice, Education; all of those departments are involved. How are they sharing in the operation of the centre, not financially but in any other way?
MS. BURRIS: Can I just answer part of that? Bob probably wants to add more. The Department of Education will be sharing in the cost through the provision of teachers. I have had ongoing discussions with my counterparts in Education, and they are prepared to assist in the provision of the teaching staff.
MR. WILSON: When you said there were 29.7 FTEs at the centre, you did not include teachers.
MS. BURRIS: No, when I said 29 FTEs, that is just the youth care component, and
those would clearly be our staff. I didn't include the teachers in that because they are separate, and they will be funded through the Department of Education.
MR. WILSON: How many teachers will there be?
MS. BURRIS: We are looking at two.
MR. FOWLER: We will assess that once they are there. The kids tend to be there for a much shorter period of time and it will be a matter of trying to keep them integrated with whatever their lesson plan is in their home school. If they are there for a longer period of time we will take a different approach, so that will be something we will assess as we . . .
MR. WILSON: So there will be two, full-time teachers there and their salaries will be paid for by the Department of Education?
MS. BURRIS: That is what we have been negotiating with the Department of Education on, that they would budget to . . .
MR. WILSON: They haven't said yes yet, have they?
MS. BURRIS: Well actually, in fairness, they have said yes. It has just been a question of them finalizing that, depending on when we would open. So we need to be clear with them on our opening date and once they are confirmed with that, I can tell you that they have given us every indication that they are behind us on that and they see that as their mandate and that would be their contribution.
MR. FOWLER: That is an historic relationship too; they were there at the former facility.
MR. WILSON: As I have said, Justice and Mental Health Services are involved as well, but there are no funding arrangements, financial arrangements with any of them?
MR. FOWLER: No, most of that is what I would call more the dynamic of managing the kids, as opposed to contracted services for everything. Obviously, we will have health facilities; if one of these kids gets sick and needs to go to the Colchester Regional Hospital, that is where they are going. Obviously, the IWK has a mental health program as well and if one of these kids needs that service, that is available to us at no charge, that is a publicly-funded program. We have another program at the IWK that we fund because they are a contractor to us, so we have two relationships with them.
MR. WILSON: I am still a little bit worried - and, Ms. Burris, you just said these are children with extreme emotional problems - as to whether or not they would have the proper access to psychiatric services that you are still working on. It worries me somewhat I will tell you.
MS. BURRIS: And I can appreciate that. I guess what I can say to you is I also emphasized that this is a multidisciplinary team. I firmly believe that no one profession can work with these children in isolation, we know that, we have done that. We have done it as a department, we have seen Health try to do it. I think we know that with these children, because of the level of distress that they come to us with, that we need to function as a team, we cannot do it on our own. We need to draw on the expertise of youth care. Youth care has its own set of practices, they are not just people standing around taking care of these kids, they are engaging in treatment with these children as well. I think, for me, if we are truly successful, the success will be in having an integrated team of players that includes all of those folks who work together as a team, both to support each other but also to support the treatment process and planning for those children.
MR. FOWLER: I might add training is also a huge issue with this. We would hope that this is the facility we believe it will be, that we are going to have expertise available in this centre, that we will be able to go out and talk in local communities with providers out there and have a transfer of expertise. We are going to look at all the creative ways to make sure it is a system, it is almost like it should be virtual. This just happens to be a building that for a moment in time has certain kids with certain issues. If we are truly to be successful, if we do this part really well but don't do the other part well, we will fail. The key is it has to be that integrated continuum and it needs to be the relationship with Mental Health Services, with Justice, with Education; it all needs to be there, and the families foremost.
MR. WILSON: Those teachers will probably be from Cape Breton; there were some laid off there recently so they will probably be employed at that centre. (Laughter)
MR. CAREY: Regarding the teachers, maybe it is premature but the type of teacher, the training of the teacher . . .
MS. BURRIS: What would that look like?
MR. CAREY: Yes, what qualifications would this teacher have to have? I taught school but I am not prepared to go into that situation.
MS. BURRIS: Do you know it is surprising the number of teachers who wouldn't. The discussions that I have had - bearing in mind that until we get to the point where we can actually sit down and concretely say on this date - with my counterpart at Education, we are looking at special education teachers, preferably teachers who have had experience working with children who are in our residential system. We do have them. We have teachers right now in our residential, more recently, because of the relationship we have, actually. We do have teachers providing education within some of our systems now. So we would be looking at special education teachers.
MR. CAREY: I was just sort of wondering what training it will require because we are looking at, possibly, from, as I understand it, a very young child to a 19 year old, possibly. Would the education they would be actually getting, you indicated - I think, Mr. Fowler, that the people who are there, maybe a short time or whatever, would be trying to follow along the school lines that they had. I guess I am having a little trouble trying to get in my mind how this would work for the various age groups, and to have the specialty and the training the teacher would have to have to work with them and, as well, teach them. In fact, would they be doing academic or whatever?
MS. BURRIS: Quite frankly, some of these things we are going to have to work out. Some of that will be based on experience in terms of the age range. You are right. That is a consideration. We have had some discussion about that.
MR. FOWLER: I think it is going to be something that is going to be experience-based for us. If what we find that we end up going back to the Family Court judge for additional time, making a recommendation, there is more treatment required and we end up with a longer average stay, then we would adjust the education program to meet that. The majority of the kids are probably going to be in the range of 12 to 16. That is probably the group. That will be the weighted average, I suppose. You will have extremes on either end. If we find that our turnover - as they do out in Hull in Calgary - is 38 days, then we will probably have a different type of educational program. Again, we want the flexibility to meet the kids' needs, not our institutional needs, if I may.
MS. BURRIS: Part of their role, and we have already had discussions on it, would be working with the other school systems. So Susie is coming in or Susie is coming out, that they are part of that school transitioning process. The integration and what are their individual plans of care, vis-à-vis their academics and how does that transfer. That will be part of the role of the educational staff. The other thing I would say is that the educational staff will be part of the secure treatment team. They will receive training the same as the rest of the secure treatment team so that they have an appreciation and understanding of the dynamics at work and the philosophy of the program, all of those things, because I think that is really central too.
MR. CAREY: Thank you. I think they will find it very challenging.
MS. BURRIS: I am sure they will.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Clarke.
MR. CLARKE: Just on one of the comments that came up previously with regard to the ability for future expansion. I compliment the planning process because I think this is a very non-threatening environment. I think that is part of it, integrating it into a community and any field. We have seen the success with autism group homes where people were
nervous in their community and realize it is now a community asset to their neighbourhood, and people start recognizing the human component and that is what this is really about.
I am just curious and concerned, from a needs assessment point of view, where have you seen the trends? Are we going to see increased demand? Obviously, in an ideal situation, we would have no one leaving the province. We would actually be having a need for less facilities, but, in a real world, we have to recognize problems have and will continue to exist. I am just wondering, what can we see in terms of future projection in terms of how the department and the government are going to be responding to this very important area in general, regardless of this facility, possibly, and others?
MR. FOWLER: Certainly, the trends in child welfare costs are going that way all across the country. We are not unique at all. You would be familiar that we added 71 social workers in the whole child protection area in the last two years, those kinds of things. We are under constant pressure to do more. I think it is a combination of two things. We have 1,900-plus kids in care. We all wish that was zero. Everybody in this room does, I am sure. That is a reality and the pressures are upwards. But I think some of the pressures Mr. Pye and others spoke about in terms of how the mental health system works, how parents reach out to find services, all those things. That is why, I think, we want to put our emphasis, as much as we can, on prevention, more when Debra talked about what is happening in Cape Breton. That's not just talking about building another building, it is talking about how we make sure that that building and what it is used for is part of a continuum there that is really prevention before we ever have to have the kids in care or in a residential environment. That would be the trend nationally. It takes a lot of work and I can tell you, being in the department for about a year and three months now, certainly child welfare is a significant challenge.
MR. CHATAWAY: Out of curiosity, one question on slide three, it says detention basin. What does that mean?
MR. FOWLER: Can you go back to that picture there? Obviously, this is a secured facility, a locked facility. The minister for five days and then with a court order from Family Court after that, we have taken away the liberty of these kids for the period of time they are there. This area here, I think you are referring to?
MR. CHATAWAY: No.
MR. FOWLER: Oh, I am sorry. I am talking about kids and you are talking about water. I am sorry. Let me deal with both. The town was concerned, because this is at the top of the hill and because it is largely virgin land now, with how much water gets into their catchments further down, their storm sewer and sanitary sewer systems. So what they came up with (Interruption) No, it is not a swimming pool. So what was decided was to capture the run-off water, because you do have asphalt and you do have roof gutters. All this does is
catch it so when you have a significant rain, this will be filled up and it will dissipate over a number of days as opposed to running down hill.
MR. CHATAWAY: You just started to talk about the other thing, what was that other thing you were going to mention?
MR. BONE: Just for the record, I flagged that as a possible issue. (Laughter)
MR. FOWLER: I didn't even notice it, so there you go.
MR. CHATAWAY: But you had mentioned too, a court order gives you . . .
MR. FOWLER: I think Mr. Pye or somebody referenced, it is not a fenced facility. This is a natural course so it dips like this, so it creates some natural separation from the rest of the area. This area is an outdoor recreation area. The idea would be that a young person could go out and throw the ball back and forth and maybe there doesn't have to be a youth worker standing right there, so it does have a perimeter fence around it, but it is not a fence with barbed wire at the top or that kind of fence, it is just a restricted fence.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chataway. I am going to allow Mr. Pye one more short question on behalf of his colleague who is not here today.
MR. PYE: I won't say this is on behalf of my colleague, Mr. Chairman. I won't say that at all because I tend not to speak for my colleague. What I will ask though is under staffing, I did not catch the number of the full staffing complement that may be, and that includes everyone, professionals, managers, clinical, social workers, as you have listed here. I don't know the full complement of the staffing that is going to be at the new secure treatment centre.
Another question I will ask, if in fact there is, if you could first tell me the number of staffing that you do have and secondly, how much of the staffing is going to be a contracted out service?
MR. FOWLER: Let me try to answer that and then Debra can fill in the blanks for me. Basically, it is roughly 35 full-time equivalents, Province of Nova Scotia civil servants. Okay? On any given time, a couple of those people may be casual because you are in a recruitment mode, but basically they are full-time equivalents. We have money in the budget for contracted services and Education will provide teachers. I don't know that I can tell you how many of those there will be, but obviously in response to Mr. Wilson's question, we are looking at a psychologist, a psychiatrist; there may be more than one.
MR. PYE: How much money do you have budgeted for contractual services?
MS. BURRIS: I am sorry, I don't have it with me. We could find it, but I can't remember right off the top of my head what we included in the budget.
MR. PYE: Will that be a part of the $2 million of operating budget annually?
MS. BURRIS: Yes, it will. What I would have included in the budget request would have been the funding to make sure that we could have those contracted services.
MR. PYE: Can you provide us with the amount of money that you are going to provide for contractual services?
MS. BURRIS: Sure.
MR. FOWLER: I am sorry we don't have that with us.
MR. PYE: Thank you.
MR. WILSON: Mr. Chairman, just a point of clarification. You said 35 full-time? Because before the figure was 29.7.
MS. BURRIS: The 29.7 is just the youth workers.
MR. WILSON: The youth workers. Great, thank you.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I just want to thank all of the presenters for coming in today. We appreciate you taking the time. Again, we thank you.
MR. FOWLER: We encourage you to go to the Web site, if you have any questions, feel free to call.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We all have a copy of a letter from Mr. Wilson and we can all take a few seconds and read it over.
MR. PYE: Mr. Chairman, maybe Mr. Wilson might want to do that, I would certainly be prepared to second such a motion, to have them appear before the Community Services Committee, if that is the intent?
MR. WILSON: I so move, Mr. Chairman.
MR. PYE: I second it, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Could I just add that we have had a request from a Mr. Murray MacDonald who came before the committee, I think a couple of meetings ago, and I have no problem with this request. I think maybe Paul MacEwan at the time suggested we should keep to our list and not keep adding on. I am just throwing that out there for you, that is all.
MR. SAMSON: If I can, Mr. Chairman, if I recall correctly Mr. MacEwan's concerns, I think the individual in question was coming more to give personal gripes about the Department of Community Services rather than representing an organization. Clearly here, I think what we are asking for is not an individual but a board of directors to come before us. I think this is a pressing concern. I am quite interested in hearing what they have to say. I think it is something which affects all of us as elected members around the province. The issue of women with addictions, and proper facilities which, unfortunately, do not exist. I think this would be a good start to bring some publicity to their concerns, some education to this. Not just for us, but it will flow through to the media to Nova Scotians.
I certainly appreciate and I know what we are saying, and we don't want to add all the time but I think we have to be open, that when there are legitimate organizations with concerns which are province-wide, we should have the flexibility to be able to add them on the list. I don't see this group having any sort of evil intentions, I guess, I think it is more that I want . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: I don't either, I was just . . .
MR. SAMSON: Sure. In that sense I think we need to be open when these things come up. If there are certain events that happened in the province that would force us to pay certain attention to a certain item, I would hope that we can be flexible enough to say that we should address certain matters before others. That is my suggestion.
MR. CHATAWAY: Out of curiosity, I just wondered how long the Society for Women Healing from Addictions and Abuse have existed as a non-profit organization.
MR. WILSON: They are currently very close to making this a reality. They banded together, they were previous groups, I think, and Jerry Pye would be able to fill you in a little bit more because of his background with the group in the metro area. They banded together, actually, as a board of directors for the society. They are looking for our support, basically, because they are in the middle of a fundraising drive and I think they have been successful to date in obtaining some money from the federal government to help them on their way. So they are getting pretty close to actually completing what they want to do and that is open up a centre in the metro area.
MR. CHATAWAY: It would be in confusion with Alcoholics Anonymous or anything like this, why won't they join the other group? Alcoholics Anonymous is the most successful non-profit, or not non-profit . . .
MR. WILSON: This is an actual centre that they are looking to build.
MR. CHATAWAY: I just wondered if they didn't do it with other groups, I mean if they are pushing the same cause why don't they do it together. I just wondered, that's all.
MR. WILSON: It is an actual centre that they are looking for but, as I mentioned, Mr. Pye has a good knowledge of exactly what's happening in that area and I would prefer him to answer it.
MR. PYE: Mr. Chairman, I don't profess to have a good knowledge but I do know that a number of organizations have come together, well-respected organizations who have long-standing organizations in the community to address the addictions of women; not only alcohol but drug addictions, gambling addictions, and there are a number of addictions. There are no co-ed facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia.
There are no women's residential or transition facilities available for women who have addiction problems. A number of these well-respected groups came together under one umbrella to address that very serious issue in Nova Scotia, because it is continuing to grow. They had made an application under the homeless program with the federal Government of Canada called Skippy, and there is the potential for them to receive some tremendous funding. They are also going to make an approach to the Department of Community Services re per diem rates as well.
So I think it is significantly important to have them appear before this Standing Committee on Community Services because of the speed in which these applications are going through a process and the interest and concerns that are at the federal level as well as at the provincial level. Not only are the organizations backing this but we have questioned the Minister of Community Services during budget estimates with those concerns as well. So I think this is something important that should be high on the agenda of the Standing Committee on Community Services. I have to say that I am very pleased that the member for Cape Breton East actually brought this forward to the standing committee, because I am certainly going to endorse it and I think that every one of us will when we hear the individuals speak before us.
MR. CLARKE: I don't disagree with the importance. I think whether it is publicly supported, but Shalom House in Sydney Mines that is run by the Sisters of Notre Dame is a program that is offered and I think might be something we should refer to to see their success, and they provide that as an open-door policy for women with addictions. So there is a program running and offering.
MR. WILSON: The Sisters of Notre Dame are part of this organization.
MR. CLARKE: All I was merely going to say was I think there may be some examples from that with regard to their success that would aid in any other development. My original point was, in looking at some of the key things which we needed, and I am looking at the agenda for future meetings, Mr. Chairman, and I know maybe we, as a committee - and I am just offering this up - need to look at the types of questions. We want to get these groups in, whether we are doing two per meeting, and get very specific on our questions and the like. I have no problem as a member of the committee trying to accommodate as many groups but maybe we are going to have to be a little bit more efficient in our question and answering sessions.
MR. SAMSON: If I may, Mr. Chairman, I see that we have coming in on May 10th - it is April 26th today - Human Resources Development Canada. I certainly voted in favour of getting them in, but I think in this case maybe Human Resources Development Canada, what they are going to bring to us is something not of importance to time. I think we want to get them in before us, I don't think it is overly important as to when they do come in. I see that it is tentative. I realize we are booked for May 24th and I know that certain members of the committee have also expressed their intent to limit our committee meetings after the House recesses and May 24th, that we are getting close to that date, quite possibly. I am not trying to guess what the Government House Leader might do.
What I would suggest is that rather than have HRDC come in, maybe we can wait and have them in a little later because of the fact that this group has got some funding proposals in front of the federal government and it is time-sensitive. I would even suggest, if it is possible for that organization, that we book them in for the May 10th meeting and ask HRDC if they will come in at whatever date we decide at the next meeting, whether we are going to continue every two weeks or if a different decision is going to be taken.
MR. CLARKE: Mr. Chairman, I have no problem putting both on the agenda. But with HRDC, just for the matter of when the House does rise and we are back in our communities, with any community group, and as we did acknowledge with the provincial government in a partnering, I think it is significant in the sense that I would like to have an understanding because we are going to be back working with a whole host of interest at the community level with the federal government, as well. I think that it is timely and it should remain, and I have no problem with accommodating the request as a second item to the agenda for that meeting.
MR. CHAIRMAN: We have a motion on the floor right now and it has been duly seconded. I think we should deal with the motion for it first for this request.
Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.
The motion is carried.
Let's now agree on a time.
MR. SAMSON: I would make a motion, I appreciate what Mr. Clarke has said and I fully agree. I really want to hear what HRDC has to say, but something tells me, because of their level of involvement, it is going to take at least two hours just for HRDC. I am sure we will not ask all the questions we want because of the amount of programming they have and the amount of different organizations which they assist. I don't think we can have HRDC partner up with any other group in a two hour slot. I think we could use half a day with HRDC and still not have all of our questions answered. While I agree with what Mr. Clarke said, I would make the motion that for our May 10th meeting we ask the board of directors for the society to attend that meeting and that HRDC be moved to a different date.
MR. WILSON: I second that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Any discussion on the motion?
MR. CHATAWAY: I would certainly like to hear HRDC very much. In fact, they have a fair-sized budget and they do many good things. The other thing I just want to say is that I think this is a very worthwhile group, or so it would seem by this letter, that is why I ask. But to realize that, of course, there are many people who are associations, groups of people, et cetera, who do great things for people who are disadvantaged and things like this, or have some problems. So if we ask the SWHAA to come in, then we might have offended 50 other groups that do very good jobs for various people, and we can't see them all. So we have to be a bit careful with that.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Just a suggestion, and for this time only, is it possible that we meet three weeks in a row?
MR. SAMSON: No problem with us.
MR. CLARKE: Another question. Is there any way with requests like this, and/or other ones, is it possible that this can be realistically and reasonably dealt with in an hour to put another one on the agenda for this? If HRDC - and we all agree it is important - is going to take two hours, I would like to think that there may be another organization we can address. (Interruption) We can start at 7:00 a.m., I have no problem with that. I just think that if we are trying to get through, I have no problem meeting another week. I also think, recognizing if HRDC is going to take two hours, I would like to see that session held before the close of the Legislature. At the same time, is there another topic we can put with this allocating an hour each, according to the current schedule or expand our hours? I have no problem accommodating this but I know we need to accommodate a lot of other people, that is all.
MR. SAMSON: I would just be concerned about moving the hours differently because it is challenging enough, in Opposition because we start at 8:30 a.m. to start up Question Period then we have to take off and come here and there is only one hour left before the House opens, so there is very little time for us. That 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m slot is pretty much the only thing that is available.
MR. WILSON: I agree, this group could certainly make a worthwhile presentation in an hour and I think that is what they are looking for. If we behave ourselves we can get it done and get it over with. This applies to everybody.
MR. PYE: I don't know, Mr. Chairman, and this might be a suggestion, maybe we can just simply bring in the May 24th item, tentatively, Services for Physically and Developmentally Challenged Children under the same date and allow the SWHAA - put them both together so we can address, and surely the women for addiction problems can address that issue.
MR. SAMSON: Am I correct that the meeting on May 24th will be government representatives coming in to do their presentation? So if for any reason after the presentation we feel we should want more or didn't ask enough questions, it would be a lot easier getting government people in than getting these individuals . . .
MR. CHAIRMAN: So is that agreed?
MR. SAMSON: I will amend my motion, Mr. Chairman. For the May 10th meeting that we have both the Board of Directors of the SWHAA, and also the representatives for Services for Physically and Developmentally Challenged Children, and that we bump HRDC to our May 24th meeting.
MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, is that agreed by the seconder? Whoever seconded the motion?
Is it agreed?
It is agreed.
Just one other topic. HRDC wanted to come in on May 1st, look at the facility - was it Darlene?
MRS. DARLENE HENRY (Legislative Committee Clerk): Yes, just to ask any questions, any concerns that they may have.
MR. CHAIRMAN: I just wanted to inform the members that this will take place.
Motion for adjournment?
MR. PYE: I so move, Mr. Chairman.
MR. CHAIRMAN: The meeting is adjourned.
[The committee adjourned at 11:03 a.m.]