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Windsor Star reports on Rally
February 17, 2005 permalink
CAS rally delivers message
About 60 people from around Ontario rallied at Queen's Park Wednesday, calling on the province to change children's aid legislation to curb child apprehensions and create more accountability.
"The complaints procedure of children's aid is mostly internal, so there's no external monitoring or accountability," John Dunn, who runs the Ottawa-based Foster Care Council of Canada, said by phone after the rally. "We want accountability in the system."
Dunn, who said he was physically and emotionally abused while in foster care for 16 years, believes children's aid legislation provides too much power. He also questions the funding formula which gives agencies money for every child they apprehend.
"CAS definitely helps some people," Dunn said. "I do believe that children's aid is necessary and that some good work is being done. But they've gone too far with apprehensions and need external monitoring."
Dr. Dolores Sicheri, a Windsor oncologist who helped organize the Queen's Park event and bring about 20 protesters from Windsor, said she was happy with the turnout, even though it was significantly less than the 200 to 300 organizers hoped would show.
'GOT OUR SAY'
"It went very well. We got our say at the government," she said. "We tried to get across that the legislation is flawed, that it has involved innocent people in the criminal justice system."
Sicheri said protesters want a more transparent system.
"The secrecy is what drives the process," she said. "We want a Royal commission of inquiry so that these cases will be opened up and families can give their testimony."
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which oversees children's aid societies, is conducting a mandatory five-year review of the legislation, tabled in 2000. Children and Youth Services Minister Marie Bountrogianni said CAS and child welfare have been under review for about a year and the government is examining the results.
"I've heard the concerns from all sides," she said. "We've consulted with the CAS and we are now developing our plan for reform."
Bountrogianni said changes will affect everything from placements and adoption rules to the CAS funding formula. "If you look at the statistics of the number of the children that come to CAS attention, very few are apprehended," she noted. "Having said that, it is an issue and we will be dealing with that as well."