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April 23, 2008 permalink
Here are two more bulletins on the progress of Ontario's new adoption disclosure law.
April 21, 2008
Today COAR, along with representatives of other adoption groups, returned to the legislature for committee hearings about Bill 12.
We were there to address the Social Policy Committee which is made up of representatives of each of the three parties.
COAR and others asked that the politicians:
- rethink the criteria for medical searches
- regulate the release non-identifying information and the introduction of a match registry and active searches
- make the disclosure veto renewable on a 10 year basis
- strongly request that individuals who choose to file a disclosure veto share medical history.
Tomorrow we return to the legislature and the politicians will have the opportunity to introduce amendments to the bill. We left with the impression that there would be amendments introduced. Some of them will likely be related to the points made above.
We will let you know tomorrow night what these amendments are and whether they carried.
April 22, 2008
Clause By Clause Hearing
We returned to the legislature today for the clause-by-clause hearing of Bill 12. In this type of hearing, politicians on a set committee go over the bill, one clause at a time, and vote whether they approve it or not. Each committee member has the opportunity to make an amendment to any clause which s/he does not support. At the end of the hearing, after the committee has approved each clause, the chair of the committee recommends that the Bill return to the House for third reading at an unspecified time in the future.
Today both the NDP and Conservatives proposed amendments.
Michael Prue of the NDP proposed that the disclosure veto should expire after 10 years. At this point, the person who filed it would have the option of renewal. COAR fully supports this position. Unexpectedly, the Privacy Commissioner attended the hearing and was granted permission to speak. She vehemently opposed this amendment and claimed that it ran counter to the court’s ruling on privacy. Not surprisingly, the amendment failed.
Norm Sterling of the Conservatives, noting that information release was not subject to a disclosure veto on adoptions occurring on or after September 1, 2008, suggested that in cases in which a child had been removed from the birth parent due to abuse that no information be released to the birth parents unless the adopted adult filed a waiver. As with the earlier NDP motion, the Liberals used their superior numbers to defeat the motion.
Determining whether Information my be Released after Death
There was much discussion about how the government plans to discover whether a person who has filed a veto is deceased. This is a real issue because Bill 12 makes clear that a disclosure veto dies with the person who filed it. While this is not an issue if the person dies in Ontario, there seems to be no mechanism in place to alert the Ontario government should the person die outside of the province.
Both Mr. Sterling and Mr. Prue spoke to this matter and urged the government to find a solution. They proposed that when an adoptee is elderly and can therefore assume that his/her birth mother is deceased that s/he might apply to the government for a discrete search to determine whether the birth mother is still alive and the veto valid or whether information can be released because the birth parent has passed away. Much to our disappointment the government opposed these suggestions as did the Privacy Commissioner. The Privacy Commissioner did, however, promise to give the matter thought and try to determine a method that would demonstrate that the person who had filed the veto was deceased but which would also preserve his/her privacy. Mr. Prue and COAR are drafting a letter to the Privacy Commissioner to remind her of this promise.
Bill 12 should now proceed to the legislature for third and final reading. We do not know when this will take place but we anticipate that it will be later this spring. We will keep you informed and share the date as soon as it becomes available.
Michael Grand firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Lynn email@example.com
Wendy Rowney firstname.lastname@example.org
The COAR Coordinating Committee
Source: email from COAR
Addendum: Ontario's Progressive Conservatives don't get it. They think every child adopted came from an abusive home, and needs protection from his natural parents. In fact, most adopted through children's aid have been taken by force of arms.
The Canadian Press
Liberals not protecting identities of adopted abuse victims from parents: Tories
April 23, 2008
TORONTO — The Opposition says the province is endangering child abuse victims who are later adopted by failing to protect their identities from their biological parents.
Progressive Conservative Norm Sterling says the Liberals have blocked changes to legislation that would stop abusive parents from finding out the identities of their adopted children after they turn 19.
Community and Social Services Madeleine Meilleur says the government shares that concern, but maintains that the adoption disclosure bill strikes an appropriate balance between privacy and protection.
She says the bill allows all adopted adults to put their names on a list of people who do not want to be contacted, and any breach of that order carries a $50,000 fine.
Sterling says he doesn't think a no-contact order will stop parents from discovering the identities of children who were taken away by the Children's Aid Society and later adopted.
He accused Meilleur of taking the side of abusers rather than victims who have been abused by their parents.
Source: Canadian Press hosted by Google