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Liberals/Conservatives Love Children's Aid

May 13, 2010 permalink

An exchange in the Ontario legislature shows that both liberal and conservative politicians are clueless about children's aid. Progressive-Conservatives Sylvia Jones and Christine Elliott questioned Ministry of Children and Youth Services Laurel Broten in a way that was critical of her funding cuts for children's aid. Her response? Instead of defending the cuts, she boasted of her earlier funding increases.



Jones, Elliott grill minister on CAS budgets

Dufferin-Caledon MPP Sylvia Jones and Christine Elliott (PC, Whitby- Oshawa) questioned the Minister of Children and Youth Services Tuesday on an application for judicial review that was filed last week in London by 11 Children’s Aid Societies (CAS), including Durham Region’s.

Last fall, an unprecedented 37 CASs’ requested a formal ministerial review of their budgets, also known as a Section 14 Review. A judicial review is a legal procedure where a court can review a decision made by the government. Its purpose is to ensure that the government has complied with the law in reaching its decision. The affidavits filed allege the government’s review process was biased an the outcome predetermined.

“Children’s Aid Societies have a legislated responsibility to provide front-line care for the most vulnerable children in this province,” said Ms. Jones. “Over the past two years, CASs have sought budget reviews, presented numerous submissions, prepared business cases for cost reductions and met with Ministry staff as well as with the minister to seek solutions for the funding shortfalls. Now this Liberal government has put the CASs’ backs against the wall, and they feel they have no other avenue but a judicial review.”

Durham CAS is facing a deficit of almost $4 million and projects a 5.4 per cent increase in intake this year. Last month it eliminated 31 full-time positions and now faces the challenge of providing the same quality and mandated services to the community with reduced resources.

“Families in the Durham region have a right to be concerned,” said Ms. Elliott. “Provincial legislation says that Children’s Aid Societies need to ensure the safety and well-being of children. Even with the reduction in staff Durham is still in a deficit position. How does the Minister expect Children’s Aid Societies to provide more care for less money? Something just doesn’t add up.”

Ms. Jones said she knew there could be no comment on the specifics of the case, but asked the minister, Laurel Broten, whether she would tell the House “the last time that a funding partner had to ask for a judicial review just because they didn’t believe the process was fair?”

“I’m pleased to have a chance to speak in this House about the judicial review, which is a procedural tool available to any CAS in the province,” the minister responded. “It’s an arm’s-length review that will follow a Section 14 application.

“Although I cannot speak to the specifics of what’s transpiring, I can say that in the context of the Section 14 review that was undertaken by my ministry, some $850,000 flowed to children’s aid societies across the province. That’s on top of the $26.9 million in additional dollars that was put into the sector this past spring.

“We’re in the midst of a large-scale conversation about the future of children’s aid societies and that delivery model. At the same time, we continue to meet our commitment never to put Ontario’s children at risk.”

Rising to pose a supplementary question, Ms. Elliott began: “Here’s what’s actually happening out there. Last year, Durham Children’s Aid Society investigated 4,180 reports of abuse. It served 5,397 families and facilitated 6,787 visits in the family access centre. They’ve eliminated 31 positions and still have a funding shortfall of $3.8 million.

“Minister, you have to admit that something here doesn’t really add up. Will you admit that the Section 14 process undertaken by your ministry, just like your consultation process with the pharmacies, was a fait accompli?”

The minister replied that she was “so pleased to have a chance to talk about Durham region and let this Legislature know how much better the kids are in Durham region today than they were in the past.

“Funding has increased for children’s aid in Durham by 31% since 2003, and over the last decade, funding is up over 250%. Section 14 money that was provided to Durham is $142,000, and stabilization funding is $543,000. At the same time, we’ve increased funding to child care in Durham by 71% since 2003. We’ve put $63.5 million into child care, and that’s saving 300 subsidized spaces in your community.”

Source: Orangeville Citizen