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Mitzi Dean out as B.C.’s child care, children and family development minister

Dean remains minister of state for child care after facing multiple calls for her resignation
Mitzi Dean will no longer serve as Child and Family Development Minister following a cabinet shuffle announced Monday morning. Fellow Victoria MLA Grace Lore will take Dean’s job, while Dean will take over Lore’s old job as minister of state for child care. Andrew Mercier remains in cabinet but with the new title of minister of state for sustainable forestry while George Chow joins cabinet as parliamentary secretary for international credentials. (Screecap)

Premier David Eby has shuffled his cabinet by dropping Mitzi Dean from her post as children and family development minister, where she has faced multiple calls for her resignation over various controversies in the ministry.

While Dean remains in cabinet as minister of state for child care, her job has gone to fellow Victoria-area MLA Grace Lore, who previously served as a minister of state for child care.

Eby announced the changes Monday (Jan. 15) morning in a release, adding that he is immensely grateful to Lore and Dean for taking on these new roles.

“Child care is extremely important to families, it is a significant benefit to businesses, and it is quite simply critical to our entire province,” he said. “Minister Dean will be a tireless champion for B.C.’s first new major social program($10-a-day-child care) in a generation. We have made considerable progress on the very difficult files within the ministry of children and family development and I know that Minister Lore’s experience and passion will benefit young people and families.”

What can be read as a promotion of Lore at the expense of Dean comes after Dean had faced multiple calls for her resignation from not just the political opposition such as BC United and BC Greens, but also groups close to the governing New Democrats such as the First Nations Leadership Council.

The forum unites the most powerful First Nations’ voices in B.C., including Union of British Columbian Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, whose wife Joan is a member of the NDP caucus as the new MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. Phillip himself has also publicly supported key government initiatives in the fields of Indigenous reconciliation and the environment, while publicly criticizing the government’s handling of the children and family life, a subject of great importance to First Nations given the disproportionately high number of Indigenous children in foster care.

Calls for Dean’s resignation reached a crescendo in the summer of 2023 following the death of an 11-year-old Indigenous boy while in foster care. The boy’s sister also suffered abuse at hands of their foster parents, whom a court had sentenced to 10 years behind bars for manslaughter and six for aggravated assault. The trial revealed social workers had not visited the children for seven months, despite policies to visit every three months.

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While Dean survived those resignation calls in the summer, they resurfaced in the fall when a special audit showed failure to meet safety protocols for Fraser Valley children. Regular audits had already earned the region, where the boy died, safety compliance rates among the province’s lowest and the special audit confirmed this picture. It found no evidence that social workers made required visits in at least 14 placements, as first reported by the Tyee following a freedom-of-information request.

The shuffle of Dean and Lore into somewhat familiar but ultimately new positions is not the only change in Eby’s cabinet.

Andrew Mercier, who has previously served as minister of state for workforce development, now serves as minister of state for sustainable forestry, to support Forests Minister Bruce Ralston.

“Minister Mercier will be a key partner in government to help address the urgent demand for timber supply from industry, while working to ensure that wood products are value-added to help create and protect jobs in the forestry sector,” Eby said. “Our entire cabinet has one clear goal — to make life better for people in B.C., and the changes announced today will help us do just that.”

Vancouver-area MLA George Chow joins cabinet as the parliamentary secretary for international credentials, building on recently passed legislation from the Ministry of Post-secondary Education and Future Skills removing barriers for internationally trained professionals to work in British Columbia.

Mercier had played a leading role in the formulation of that legislation.


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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