Probes launched after teen dies in government care
B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development is once again under scrutiny after an 18-year-old died in the province’s care.
Alex Gervais fell to his death from a fourth-floor window at a Super 8 hotel in Abbotsford last Friday. His friends believe he killed himself following a fight with his girlfriend.
“He said that he’s wanted to end his life a couple times to me,” Dale Gray told CTV News. “I just said it’s not worth it, you’ve got so much to live for. He’s still so young, right?”
Gray’s mother said social workers should have known Gervais was struggling with suicidal thoughts; a few months ago he even posted a goodbye message on social media.
“A caregiver is supposed to give care, not just a roof over your head,” Marcelle Gray said. “You are supposed to listen to their problems if they have problems.”
She also wondered what Gervais was doing at the Super 8 in the first place.
The government put the young man up in the hotel after shutting down his former group home due to health and safety concerns. It’s unclear just how long he’d been living there.
B.C.’s Representative for Children and Youth, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, told CTV News the ministry had assured her no children, particularly those in situations like Gervais’s, were being placed in hotels.
“I am sad about this tragedy but I’m also extremely upset that I was misled,” Turpel-Lafond said.
Turpel-Lafond is investigating the death, as is the BC Coroners Service.
Children’s Minister Stephanie Cadieux said she can’t speak to the case because of privacy concerns. She did issue an email statement confirming her staff has not reported placing any other children or youth in hotels.
She also said she’s “deeply concerned” by Gervais’s case.
This isn’t the first troubling case that’s put the ministry in the spotlight this year. Over the summer, a report blamed the province for an aboriginal teen’s death, and a court ruling found staff failed to protect young siblings who were sexually abused by their father.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Lisa Rossington