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Social worker should have asked about Kematch's boyfriend, Sinclair inquiry hears

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The social worker who paid a house call to Samantha Kematch in 2004 should have asked more questions about her boyfriend, Karl "Wes" McKay, her supervisor told the inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair this morning.

Carolyn Parsons said that intake unit worker Tracy Forbes could have asked Kematch, Phoenix's mother, more about her boyfriend who she learned was staying in the home, including his last name. The following year, Kematch and McKay killed Phoenix, but the five-year-old's death wasn't discovered until 2006. The province called an inquiry into Phoenix's death in 2011. The public hearing, now in its seventh week, began in September.

On Monday, the inquiry heard from Forbes who testified that she didn't ask for McKay's name or check to see if he had any prior involvement with Child and Family Services. Forbes said that even if she had known about his past criminal record of severe domestic abuse against a partner, she may have still closed the file on the family because there was no proof he ever abused a child.

Forbes was the intake worker assigned to the file in May 2004 when a welfare worker contacted Child and Family Services to report that Phoenix's mother claimed to be caring for her and wanted the four-year-old added to her budget. The welfare worker reported that she was aware of concerns about Phoenix's safety if she was ever returned to either parent.

Forbes said there was no immediate risk to Phoenix that she could see when she met with Phoenix and her mother that summer and their file was closed.

Her supervisor this morning said that if McKay's past was known, she wouldn't have approved of the file being closed at the intake unit.

"We would have had grounds to have him removed from the home if we had some confidence Ms. Kematch would've respected that," said Parsons. They would not have closed the file if they had known his track record of physical abuse, she said.

"The file would be transferred for ongoing services."

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