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June 15, 2010 permalink
Ontario's Ombudsman André Marin has released his annual report. It contains little about children's aid, though once more he appeals for authority to look into this area for abuses. His comments on children's aid are in the expand box.
Children's aid societies
The Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies recently launched an awareness campaign to educate the public on the organization's role within the community, and ways for people to get involved in "your Children's Aid." Unfortunately, "your Children's Aid" remains beyond the Ombudsman's authority to investigate. As with hospitals, Ontario is the only province whose Ombudsman does not have oversight of child protection services. This year, our Office had to turn away 296 complaints about children's aid societies (CASs). The chart below shows the number of complaints and inquiries to our Office about CASs over the past five years:
Fiscal Year 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 Complaints 436 609 431 429 296
The complaints we received covered a broad range of issues and allegations, including:
- CAS refusal to investigate, or to thoroughly investigate, allegations of abuse and neglect;
- concerns about CAS apprehension of children and the care of children in CAS custody or supervision;
- inaccurate CAS records;
- threatening and harassing conduct on the part of CAS staff; and
- CAS refusal to permit access to children in their custody.
Since 2006, some recourse has been available to complain about children's aid societies through the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB). However, we continue to receive complaints about the Board's limited mandate in this area. The Board's focus is on procedural issues rather than substantive concerns about CAS agencies. This year, we received 7 complaints about the CFSRB.
A number of petitions circulated in 2009-2010 called for the Ombudsman to be provided with authority over child protection matters. A private member's bill, Bill 93, the Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children's Aid Societies), 2008, introduced by the NDP's Andrea Horwath on June 11, 2008 for the purpose of bringing children's aid societies within the Ombudsman's jurisdiction, did not proceed past first reading and died when the Legislature was prorogued in March 2010. Bill 130, the Children's Safety and Protection Rights Act, 2008, introduced by PC MPP Lisa MacLeod, also included provision for Ombudsman oversight of children's aid societies, but failed to pass second reading on April 30, 2009.
Public rallies were held in support of Bill 93, including at least 10 in locations across the province in October 2009. Several more were held in the spring of 2010, calling for the reintroduction of the bill after the provincial parliament was prorogued.