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Eby drops children's minister Mitzi Dean from job; Grace Lore appointed replacement

VICTORIA — A British Columbia cabinet minister who faced calls to resign has been pulled from her post as minister of children and family development.
B.C. Premier David Eby speaks during a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024. The premier has announced he is pulling Mitzi Dean from her post as children's minister and promoting Victoria's Grace Lore to the position. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VICTORIA — A British Columbia cabinet minister who faced calls to resign has been pulled from her post as minister of children and family development.

Premier David Eby announced Monday that Mitzi Dean was removed as children's minister and will be replaced by Victoria member of the legislature Grace Lore.

Dean's tenure at the ministry was rocky, with several horrifying cases of abuse of children in government care arising during her watch, leading to calls for her resignation by the Green Party and First Nations Leadership Council.

She was appointed to the job in 2020, and is a social worker with a broad background working with children, youth and families. 

Her volunteer work included running children's programs in a women's transition house and working in a Romanian orphanage.

"Minister Dean and I have been talking about the challenges facing this ministry and our shared goal to deliver care for every single child in the province, and we reached together the reluctant decision to make a significant reset of the ministry, with a new minister and a new deputy minister, so we can continue to move forward," Eby said at an unrelated news conference in Vancouver.

The Green Party said in a statement it expects to see improvements in leadership and accountability at the ministry.

"After repeatedly calling for a leadership overhaul in the ministry, we are glad to see the premier finally take action," said Green MLA Adam Olsen. "The ministry's chronic accountability issues have long failed children and families."

He said the ministry needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

The Opposition BC United issued a statement with a list of Dean's "shocking failures and bad decisions."

BC United said under Dean's watch, the ministry clawed back individualized autism funding, ignored audit results showing lack of oversight and disregarded concerns of First Nations who called for her resignation.

Eby said Dean will now serve as minister of state for child care, overseeing the province's child care initiatives.

The premier said Lore, who served as parliamentary secretary for gender equity, will bring passion and experience to theministry.

"It's not a huge amount of time for her to act in this role," said Eby. "It's 10 months before the next election, and it's a challenging time. She has a very sensitive and acute understanding of how system structures can impact lived experience of people in communities and that sensitivity is going to be so important."

Eby also appointed Andrew Mercier as minister of state for sustainable forestry to support Forests Minister Bruce Ralston.

And in another shuffle, the premier named Vancouver's George Chow as the parliamentary secretary for international credentials to help remove barriers for internationally trained professionals to work in B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2024.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press