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March 11, 2010 permalink
A rally supporting ombudsman oversight of children's aid has been announced for Sudbury on March 22.
Addendum: The Sudbury Star announces the rally.
Sudburians join cause to hold provincial Children's Aid Societies accountable
A group supporting a bill calling for Ombudsman oversight over the province's 53 Children's Aid Societies will hold a rally in Sudbury on Monday.
The Bill 93 rally will last from noon until 2 p.m. across the street from the Children's Aid Society for the Districts of Sudbury and Manitoulin at 319 Lasalle Blvd.
"We're expecting a minimum of 25, but we know people are travelling from as far as Timmins," said Neil Haskett, a Sudbury organizer for Rally for Accountability.
He is concerned there is no genuine place for families to appeal actions or decisions made by CAS workers.
"By having the Ombudsman receiving the power of oversight, we will be assured that the Children's Aid Societies are finally accountable to someone other than themselves and that every child in Ontario will receive a better child protection system," Haskett said.
Right now, the Auditor General only has the power to look into the finances of this private corporation, Haskett said. When he investigated four Children's Aid Societies in Ontario in 2006, they all failed.
He expects if the Ombudsman investigates the actions of societies, he will discover problems of a criminal nature.
"We were involved previously back in 2006 because we filed a complaint against a police officer. They called the Children's Aid Society on us," Haskett said.
"We will be pursuing a lawsuit in the near future ... It left a bad taste in our mouths. We actually had to call the OPP for help. That's how frightened we were."
Eventually, a judge ordered the CAS out of their lives, he said. The couple then began the long process of finding a place where they could launch a complaint about their treatment by the society.
Originally, complaints could only be filed with the societies themselves, he said. Then the Child and Family Services Review Board was created.
"But if you look into filing a complaint, they clearly state you cannot file a complaint that is currently active or a previous case. So, if you can predict the future, you are more than welcome to file a complaint," Haskett said.
"This, once again, proves they can not be trusted and cannot be accountable on their own accord."
The only hope appears to lie with the Ombudsman, Haskett said.
"He can't do anything right now until there is an amendment to the act. He's powerless. What we've done is tried to raise awareness ever since."
On Friday, a rally was held in Oshawa and others are being planned in Kincardine, Walkerton and Owen Sound.
Each year, there have been rallies to support the bill held at Queen's Park in Toronto in early October, with representatives of both opposition parties speaking about the need for oversight.
Originally, the legislation was known as Bill 88, but time has elapsed requiring a name change to Bill 93.
"You're familiar with the Dr. (Charles) Smith case?" asked Haskett, referring to the work of the disgraced pathologist. "There's a long list and it's growing every day," he said.
"If the Ombudsman was involved, we could prove it goes a lot deeper than what the public sees."
While some of the group's members are concerned the CAS is at times abusing its power, others worry it isn't doing enough for genuine cases of neglect and abuse.
Family members of a baby from Chelmsford who was killed earlier this year will also be travelling to the rally to lend their voices to the cause. The baby's father has been charged with assault and neglect in the case.
Source: Sudbury Star