Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Alex Gervais died in September after being removed from a home for vulnerable youth and placed in an Abbotford, B.C., hotel.

More than 100 British Columbia children in government care were housed in hotels last year, a figure almost five times more than what the province had previously declared and a number that defies government assurances that the practice is a rare, last resort.

In a joint report released Wednesday, the government and B.C.'s children's advocate agreed hotel use for kids in care should be eliminated altogether. But the report offers neither a guarantee that will happen this year nor an agreement on how to respond to the problem in the meantime.

The use of hotels for children in care has been criticized as inappropriate and potentially unsafe. Four months after Alex Gervais, an 18-year-old in B.C. government care, fell to his death from a hotel window, the report found 117 children were placed in such accommodations last year. At the time of his death, the Ministry of Children and Family Development said it was aware of only one other child housed in a hotel.

Story continues below advertisement

Later that month, the ministry said a review found 23 hotel placements between November, 2014, and late September, 2015, and contended hotel placements were made only "in rare instances."

Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development, said then the hotel stays were a surprise: "We should have been notified and the ministry was not informed."

But Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth, was harshly critical of the stays at the time. She estimated that up to 50 young people were placed in hotels within a calendar year.

In fact, Wednesday's report found that 117 children were placed in hotels between November, 2014, and October, 2015. Some were placed in hotels more than once during this period, resulting in a total of 131 hotel placements.

Among the 131 placements during the studied period, 55 per cent were for only a single night and the average stay was 2.7 days, the report found. However, some of those placements were much longer; Mr. Gervais spent 49 days in a hotel prior to his death and a total of about 86 days during his time in care, Ms. Turpel-Lafond said.

"Frankly, I'm really unhappy that it's so different," Ms. Cadieux said Wednesday. "The 23 was based on numbers reported to us by our service delivery areas, by the people doing the work on a daily basis. Those were the numbers they gave us."

Ms. Cadieux said British Columbia is aiming to eliminate the use of hotel placements, but she wouldn't make any commitments about when that would happen.

Story continues below advertisement

"I can't commit to that today," she said Wednesday. "I don't think that would be reasonable."

Mr. Gervais had been one of 33 youths living in 23 group homes in the Abbotsford area that had been closed. Ms. Turpel-Lafond had been assured no children would be placed in hotels as a result of the closings.

A director's case review to determine the reason for the 49-day stay is under way, Ms. Cadieux said. If it is not completed by March 31, the ministry has consented to the Representative for Children and Youth pursuing its own investigation.

Both Ms. Cadieux and Ms. Turpel-Lafond agreed that hotel stays are not ideal and should be eliminated. However, Ms. Cadieux said the "vast majority" of hotel placements are a last resort for when children are urgently taken into care, often in the evenings and on weekends; Ms. Turpel-Lafond said that years of budget cuts have impeded adequate placement, particularly in areas of the north and south Fraser regions, resulting in the widespread use of hotels.

"The minister's own staff was resolute and clear, as we report, that the resources are not there," she said Wednesday.

Ms. Cadieux disagreed, saying lack of resources had not necessitated hotel use.

Story continues below advertisement

"What is at issue, though, is having the right resources available for a child, and the spectrum of needs they have, and having those resources available exactly when they need them, 24/7, 365 days a year."

The ministry is strengthening systems for communications between after-hours and daytime staff to use existing capacity more effectively, Ms. Cadieux said. It has also released a practice directive regarding the use of hotels, the approval process, tracking, reporting and other measures.

Ms. Cadieux said the ministry has implemented a policy to track all hotel placements of children and youth, and she committed to providing public updates every six months.

"In the longer term, it is clear that the use of hotel placements is an indication of significant shortfalls in other available residential placements, including foster homes, emergency beds, and group homes," the report said.

"Like Manitoba, B.C. must begin an immediate process to close the service gaps and develop a clear plan to address these gaps in a timely fashion, with the ultimate goal of eliminating hotel placements entirely."

With a report from The Canadian Press

Story continues below advertisement

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies