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Children and Youth Advocate

May 23, 2007 permalink

The Ontario Hansard now has the committee debate tuning the powers of the proposed Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth.

The full bill as amended is also available. In its current form the child protection industry has little to fear from the advocate.

The Advocate must be a person with significant experience in areas such as children’s mental health, child welfare, developmental services, youth justice, education or pediatric health services.

The advocate will likely be a career social worker. Their credentials allow them to earn $100,000 or more in the field, but outside of social work are employable only as waitresses. The advocate will not be jeopardizing her career by attacking her own profession. Appointment of a university professor could sidestep this restriction.

Subpoenas? Not for the advocate:

14 Restriction on advocacy

(3) Nothing in this Act permits the Advocate to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses, to compel testimony under oath or to compel witnesses to produce records or things.

The advocate must swear an oath of confidentiality. The following provision will prevent identification of rogue social workers and other miscreants:

18 9. The Advocate may not disclose in a public report or public communication the name or identifying information of any individual who has not consented to the disclosure unless a person who is authorized to consent on behalf of the individual in accordance with paragraph 11 has consented to the disclosure.

Based on volume of complaints, child protection reforms are most urgent in Hamilton, Windsor and Kingston, but the advocate will not be able to disclose that, even if she agrees.