Explosive allegations prompt government probe of N.S. youth centre
Published Thursday, February 4, 2016 7:18PM AST
Last Updated Friday, February 5, 2016 8:37AM AST
There was an emotional rebuttal on Thursday from the Nova Scotia government to the allegations of sex and drugs at a youth group home in Sydney.
The acting community services minister says there is no chance staff would be directed to look the other way if such things were happening.
“The suggestion that staff were being directed by management to turn the other way, to overlook sexual assault and drug use, that is asinine,” says Acting Community Services Minister Geoff MacLellan.
Wednesday’s complaints were enough to have the government look into what’s going on at the Comhla Cruinn Youth Centre.
“The concerns of staff safety are not being address,” adds MacLellan. “We’ve got to know that.”
Meanwhile, child care advocates in the community say they’re not surprised by the allegations.
Advocates for child services and foster care say they are used to their complaints to the government falling upon deaf ears.
They say their concerns about a lack of standardization within community services policies and procedures echo those raised by staff at the youth centre.
“The local department we work with is not always attuned nor sensitive to our concerns,” says Delores Feltmate of the Cape Breton-Victoria Child Advocacy Society. “We feel there is a lot of communication breakdown.”
One of the points made in Wednesday’s news conference by NSGEU President Joan Jessome was a lack of support for staff.
“To bring in security, immediately, to the facility, get it back in shape so that people feel safe,” Jessome said on Wednesday, “both staff and youth, and that they do a forensic audit on policies and programs.”
A department spokesperson tells CTV News that community services staff are expected to be at the facility by early next week.
“Staff, and this is about staff at the facility, have to be confident that they can come forward with these complaints and concern,” says MacLellan. “And if they’re afraid, then we have to know this.”
Feltmate says while she is frustrated with the agency at the local level, she is encouraged at the provincial level, in hopes Comhla Cruinn will be a trigger for change.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ryan MacDonald