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Hearings Published

May 13, 2007 permalink

The legislative hearings held on April 25 and 26 have now been published in the Hansard. The subject before the Standing Committee on Justice Policy was bill 165 to alter the powers of the children's advocate. Many of the witnesses were functionaries of the child protection system, or advocates for handouts to special groups, or children still under the control of the child protection system and so unable to criticize it. But there were many witnesses with valuable contributions.

  • Anne Marsden said that the legal procedures for the protection of children are not being followed now, so the enactment of even more rules benefiting children is useless.
  • Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office. David Simpson criticized provisions in the law requiring the children's advocate to notify an institution in advance before visiting a child, and requiring the advocate to submit a copy of a report to the ministry thirty days before publication.
  • Lawrence Kong. Mr Kong advocated for mom and dad as the best guardians of children, and in their absence, said other relatives offered the best homes. He recounted the sham court processes that now seize children from their parents, and even suggested that committee members educate themselves by reading the websites of Dufferin VOCA and Canada Court Watch.
  • Paul Dagenais. His daughter was the target of an attempted rape at school, but for two years nothing was done to remove her attacker.
  • Voices for Children. Former crown ward Stephanie Ma likens the experience of seeking relief in foster care to The Trial by Franz Kafka.
  • David Witzel, now 60 years old, recounts the horrors of growing up in foster care, and the lifetime of nightmares stemming from it.
  • Sarah-Jane Dagg, a former crown-ward, recounted the difficulty of calling for help when access to telephones was controlled, and tells of being drugged into submission with a needle.
  • Samuel Fragomeni was separated from his son by the actions of children's aid. He had to watch a lawyer purportedly representing his son, but ignoring the boy's wishes.
  • Jeffery Wilson, a family lawyer, said the child advocate needs protection from lawsuits, or her work will become ineffective because of the threat of defamation claims. Also the child advocate needs the power to enter a child care facility without notice, otherwise the facility will use the delay to temporarily remove the problem that is the subject of a complaint.
  • Defence for Children International — Canada. Matthew Geigen-Miller voiced concerns for kids in institutions. He said it is vital that such children can call an advocate at any time on their own initiative, and that the advocate must have the power to enter the facility. He advocated making confidentiality rules even stronger.
  • Network Group, Pape Adolescent Resource Centre. Witness Julaine (no surname) recounts that a roughhousing incident with her foster parents resulted in a charge of assault, which she was required to fight without help because of lack of access to an advocate. Witness Sashan saw her foster family take their natural kids on vacation while the foster kids had to find somewhere else to go.

Several witnesses thought of the child advocate as a resource to intervene in individual cases to improve the lives of children one at a time. What is also needed is a report on the failings of the system as a whole, something the ombudsman is better suited to do. The child advocate cannot be a substitute for ombudsman oversight.

John Dunn notes that the hearings have been successful in altering the proposed legislation.



This is something I have not seen happen very often. It appears as if our voices are being heard on this one. Bill 165 is the independant child advocate Bill introduced by the Min. CYS.

The Bill normally goes through first reading, then second reading, then to committee, then to third reading and is passed. This time, it was brought through first, second, committee and then to third but before being read for third it was sent back to committee for changes.

Those changes included removing the 30 day requirement for the Advocate to submit their report to the Ministry before submitting it to the Legislature, something we recomended, so that was done.

Also the Advocate no longer has to warn a resident before entering a facility to look into a child's status. Keep it up people, our voices are being heard.

Here is the latest recomendation in Today's business to return the Bill to committee. IT was recomended by MPP James Bradley.


Hon. James J. Bradley (Minister of Tourism, minister responsible for seniors, Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I believe we have unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding discharging a bill from third reading back to committee.

The Speaker (Hon. Michael A. Brown): Mr. Bradley has asked for unanimous consent to move a motion without notice regarding discharging a bill from third reading back to committee. Agreed? Agreed.

Hon. Mr. Bradley: I move that the order for third reading of Bill 165, An Act to establish and provide for the office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, be discharged and the bill be referred to the standing committee on justice policy; and

That, in addition to its regularly scheduled meeting times, the standing committee on justice policy be authorized to meet Monday, May 14, 2007, between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. for the purpose of clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 165, An Act to establish and provide for the office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.

May, Monday, 14, 2007, 11:00 a.m. Queens Park, Room No. 228 (can only watch but it's good to be there)

The Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried.


Hon James J. Bradley - Contact Information Constituency 2 - 2 Secord Dr
St. Catharines ON L2N 1K8
Tel: 905-935-0018
Fax: 905-935-0191

Source: email from John Dunn

Addendum: Here is an item of committee testimony that we overlooked on the first pass. It is from family lawyer Michael Cochrane on April 25:

(11) On some other related points about the family law system, it’s pretty much in a crisis mode right now in Ontario. It’s a mess. Everything is totally delayed. The level of acrimony is awful. I think the part of it that I find most frustrating is that we see families blowing the equity in their homes, burning up their RSPs, cashing them in, to pay lawyers to fight in the justice system. The CAS is often dragged into cases. I would be shocked if the children’s advocate didn’t have to do an investigation of the family law justice system in this province, because it is certainly not helping families and it’s certainly not helping children. We see it every day.