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CAS Denies Community Participation
July 23, 2008 permalink
In a brief letter to Jim Watson, MPP for Ottawa West-Nepean, John Dunn summarizes abuses committed by Ontario's children's aid societies, not against children, but against the laws of corporate governance. They have systematically excluded participation by members of the public in observing, and participating in, CAS policy making.
distributed July 23, 2008
My letter to you asked if you were going to support Private Members Motion number 41 which would simply ask the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to issue a Directive to all Societies asking them to notify the public of the fact that Societies hold monthly, publicly accessible Board of Directors meetings.
In your response, you made references to two provisions of the Corporations Act (s. 161(1) & s. 129 (1) which refer to Annual or Special General Meetings of the Corporation which shall be made notice of to the existing members of the corporation or in the alternative to a local newspaper. These provisions give the Society the option of only notifying the existing members rather than putting an ad in the newspaper for all of the public to see if they so chose. And it is their practice that this is what they do.
Annual or Special General Meetings are not what Motion 41 refers to. As it stands Societies are blocking membership applications from members of the public who advocate for changes, therefore Members Motion #41 would force the Societies to notify the public of the fact that they hold "Publicly Accessible, Monthly Board of Directors Meetings" so that members of the public, regardless of whether they are members of the Society or not can be made aware of this fact and attend and observe and be heard.
Currently, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over CAS's. When the Societies have contravened provisions of the Corporations Act which are Offences (section 307 (5) ) the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services which has jurisdiction over corporations incorporated under the Corporation's Act stated that they have no jurisdiction over non-profit Corporations (CAS). When the Ministry of Children and Youth Services was asked to use its powers of revocation and take over afforded to it in the CFSA the Ministry also stated that they have no jurisdiction over CAS's as they are autonomous bodies governed by a local community elected Board of Directors. And now, even members of the public who apply for memberships as the Ministry states they can, so that they can hold the agency accountable via the rights afforded to them as members, they have their membership applications rejected, therefore reducing, and eliminating true stakeholder accountability.
So in essence, although the Act is in force, the agencies rely on the fact that citizens are not aware of, nor can they afford to take a Society to court in order to simply obtain a membership with the agency after they have had their applications rejected. Memberships should be automatically accepted and if someone then "acts inappropriately" as a member they could then be removed or banned or have their membership terminated.
As it stands today, Societies are pre-emptively hand-picking whom they want to become members based on their opinion of whether the potential member may attempt to hold them to account using the proper tools afforded to members via the By-Laws and the Corporations Act.
The Private Members Motion 41 seeks from the Government a deeper level of public accountability by asking it to issue Directives, which are in its power to do, forcing the Societies to notify all members of the public, regardless of whether or not they have been granted memberships through the Board of Directors -- those of which have been actively filtering these membership applications and disallowing people who advocate for changes to the Society's By-Laws or Policies and Practices from becoming members or Board members -- through their websites and through their lobbies.
I will be keeping a public record of which MPP's support the motion and which do not. From your response to me in your letter, I understand from you that you do not, and will not be supporting the Private Member's Motion 41 as referred to in the Legislature.
If I do not hear a response from you or your staff members stating the alternative by Friday, July 25th, 2008 at 613-228-2178 I will be posting this on my web site for the voters to be informed of your choice to support the status quo of keeping Ontario's Children at risk by eliminating the last remaining vestige of accountability the public can use to protect children and youth in foster care from possible institutional abuse and harm. Much like the very sad and tragic death of Jeffrey Baldwin who died due to the Catholic CAS's negligence in placing him with people who had a criminal history of child abuse which was known to the Society.
The Foster Care Council of Canada
Source: email from John Dunn, July 23, 2008