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Ministry Stonewalls FOI Request
August 22, 2005 permalink
John Dunn made a request to the Ontario government for information collected during the review of the CFSA. The principal part of his request was:
As a result of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services' (the ministry) mandatory five year review of the Child and Family Services Act, the Minister, Dr. Marie Bountrogianni created a report titled "Report on the 2005 review of the Child and Family Services Act" which was published in March of 2005. This report stated that over 90 submissions were made to the ministry with recommendations regarding the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) and related matters.
I would like to request a single copy of each of the 90 submissions the Minister referred to in her report ...
Here is the reply from the ministry:
collapseMinistry of Community and Social Services Ministry of Children and Youth ServicesMinistère des Services sociaux et communautaires Ministère des Services à l'enfance et à la jeunesseFreedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Unit Communications and Marketing Branch 6th Floor, Hepburn Block 80 Grosvenor Street Toronto, Ontario M7A 1E6 Telephone: (416) 327-4545 Fax: (416) 326-2567
August 16, 2005
Mr. John Dunn
Foster Care Council of Canada
503-1218 Meadowlands Drive East
Ottawa ON K2E 6K1
Re: Request Number CYS2005/0036
Dear Mr. Dunn,
I am writing to you about your access request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Your request was received on June 24, 2005. In your request you are interested in receiving copies of the submissions received from the ministry pertaining to the review of the Child and Family Services Act.
As you will know from the report itself, which is available on the ministry's website, 72 responses came from individuals and 24 submissions were from advocacy groups, professional organizations and service provider associations.
Access is denied to the records received from individuals under s.21(2)(f) as the personal information is highly sensitive. The definitions section of FIPPA, says that personal information includes "correspondence sent to an institution by the individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence".
The information provided by the individuals is considered to be highly sensitive and the individuals included:
- parents who had experience with children's aid societies and with adoption
- individuals who had been or are currently in the care of a children's aid society
- individuals who have been adopted
- mothers who have relinquished children for adoption
- grandparents caring for their grandchildren
- lawyers who have represented parents and/or children
- people affected by adoption
- people affected by domestic violence
I am pleased to provide you with the attached list of associations, including: addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses. The submissions have not been provided, because the area responsible for them recently moved and is still in the process of establishing their new offices. The responsible area will continue to search for the submissions.
In the meantime, you may wish to contact the organizations directly to receive a copy of their submissions.
You may request that this decision be reviewed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner can be reached at:
Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
Suite 1400, 2 Bloor Street East
Toronto ON M4W 1A8
If you decide to appeal a decision to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, please provide the Commissioner's office with:
- The request number assigned to the request
- A copy of this decision letter, and
- A copy of the original request you sent to this institution
Appeals to the Commissioner must also be accompanied by the appropriate fee. Fees vary according to the nature of the request being appealed. If the person appealing has made a request for access to a general record under subsection 24(1) FIPPA, the fee is $25.00.
You have 30 days from the receipt of this letter to request a review from the Commissioner.
If you have any questions, you can contact me at the telephone number on the first page of this letter. Please use the Request Number assigned to your request in any further correspondence
Mary Lou Daniels
The letter was followed by a table giving the name of each organization and full contact information. Only the names are reproduced here.
- Ontario Association of Social Workers
- Ontario Association of Residences Treating Youth
- Family Services of Halliburton County
- Second Chance for Kids
- Children and Youth Advisory Committee; Family & Children's Services Niagara
- Adoption Council of Ontario
- Advisory Committee for Child and Youth Services
- Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses
- Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
- Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
- Adoption Support Kinship
- Office of the Child and Family Services Advocacy
- LoveCry, The Street Kids Organisation
- Foster Parents Society of Ontario
- Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents
- Citizens Commission on Human Rights
- Probation Officers Association of Ontario
- Legal Aid Ontario
It is difficult to believe, as the ministry claims, that letters sent for the purpose of correcting legislation are of a private or confidential nature. Last year, we posted three of the submissions to the ministry, none of them mentioning the name of a single CAS client. Is the ministry using this as an excuse for concealing letters with information about atrocities committed in the name of child protection?
And here is what John Dunn reported August 22:
Well folks, something interesting has turned up. I made a FIPPA request last month which turned out pretty good and is in the works.
Then I did some other inquiries by phone as to how I would learn from the Ministry how a CAS's Policy and Procedure Manual is approved by a Ministry.
I found out that a CAS submits their policy and procedure manual to the Ministry for approval. (probably the local Regional Office for each CAS) I then phoned, just to get an answer (helps me brain storm as I obtain more and more information from each call) and asked how I would obtain a copy of the most recently approved Ottawa CAS policy and procedures manual from the Ministry using a FIPPA request and who I would talk to regarding this book.
Well, here we go... talk about Government double talk and a feeble attempt to make the request seem complicated enough to make a person want to give up.
I got a call from
Program Supervisor - COMMUNITY SERVICES 1
10 Rideau St
Ottawa, ON K1N 9J1
today and she seemed to have been told to shut my request down fast.
She said that she was told that I should have included it in my previous FIPPA request and that because I did not, I would not be able to obtain it.
After talking as if she knew nothing of my request other than what "someone" told her... which she claims was that she was only told to tell me that I had to put what I asked for in the previous FIPPA request and that I could not get it because I did not.