An Open Letter to MPP's in Ontario
RE: Ombudsman Oversight
As you are all aware, yet another Bill was introduced (Bill 131) in an attempt to get Ombudsman Oversight of Children's Aid Societies and other publicly funded bodies in the province's MUSH sector.
The PC party's Jim Wilson is quoted in the media as saying "We'll look at all avenues wherever the public's dollar is spent to make sure is has the proper oversight and accountability," and "If we need officers of the legislature to help us with that, then I don't think we would rule that out at this time."
The Minister of Children and Youth Services, Laurel Broten is quoted as saying "It's incredibly important that we have oversight and that Ontarians feel there are mechanisms for them to raise issues of concern, and those processes have been put in place by our government".
Oversight of Spending Tax-Payers Money
Regarding proper oversight of the spending of public dollars, are all MPPs aware of the fact that the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies (a registered lobby group in Ontario) are taking approximately 3 Million dollars each year from Children's Aid Societies for their annual membership fees? This is Ministry allocated transfer payments funds which were and are specifically to be used for child protection services as per each agency's Annual Service Agreement with the Ministry, but instead it is being used by a Lobbyist to lobby the Government for more taxpayers money, something the government refuses to aknowledge or do anything about, other than to respond with standard form letters stating that the Ministry only has a monitoring role over the agencies, that they are private corporations, governed by a community elected board of directors. (something we also know not to be true since most citizens either don't know they can become a member of a CAS to vote or have their applications denied simply becuase they advocate for changes or because they have had involvement with the Society at some time. (due to poverty, inability to parent, disability, trauma, abuse and "neglect" etc.)
Toothless Complaint Body (The CFSRB)
The Minister is politically forced to claim that her government has put "processes" in place in order to ensure that Ontarians "feel there are mechanisms for them to raise issues of concern" regarding child protection services, however, at the same time the Ontario government put the Child and Family Services Review Board (CAS Complaint Body) in Place they also removed the possibility of it having any real enforcement powers by making it exempt from the Statutory Powers Procedures Act, a statute which gives teeth to most tribunals. This is evidenced by section 68 (9) which says "The Statutory Powers Procedure Act does not apply to a hearing under this section" (the complaints section).
I have received a response from former PC child-welfare critic Julia Munro which states that she sees no need to extend oversight of CAS to the Ombudsman's office.
I am offering a few to consider.
1. I know two mothers being pursued by CAS who committed suicide because they felt there was no hope of seeing their children again, and they had not even abused their kids.
2. CAS's regularly put false and misleading information in affidavits before the court, and most clients are either self-represented or using legal aid, which does not avail them to the information, or time to initiate appeals. Often they find out years later from Facebook supporters that they could have appealed or taken other action in court to respond to such illegal practices.
3. I am aware of at least three Children's Aid Societies who have committed the Offence of failing to furnish a list of their members when properly requested to do so under section 307 (5) of the Corporations Act, RSO 1990, c. c-38. (An offence) Two agencies have been charged with the offence, one got away with it due to a slight technicality on the face of the record (charging document) and the other is facing trial (Ottawa CAS and executive director Barbara MacKinnon) on December 01, 2010
4. The CFSRB has no teeth to enforce it's orders, and the Ombudsman can not make it do, what is not within the CFSRB's purview. Therefore the existing Ombudsman oversight over the CFSRB is limited to what the board CAN do according to legislation, and as it stands, that is very little.
5. CAS's are exempt from all privacy legislation and often people fight for years to obtain access to their own personal files, or even for disclosure before court appearances. People are often served just minutes or seconds before court in the hallway. The Records section of the CFSA has also never been Proclaimed and sit dormant since the early 90's. (twenty years!)
These are just a few examples of how voting in favour of Ombudsman oversight is important. Besides, what will it cost you personally? And if it does cost you anything personally, are you really doing your job representing "Ontarians" as you were elected to do by not letting the Ombudsman have direct oversight in areas where the existing bodies have no jurisdiction at least?
A foster care survivors of sixteen years, and thirteen placements.
PS: Learn about the charges against the Ottawa CAS at the following URL. Everyone is invited to attend: Spread the word, send a representative to monitor the trial
Dec 01, 2010
100 Constellation Crescent
Court Room 101
The Foster Care Council of Canada