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August 25, 2010 permalink
On August 23 John Dunn testified about Bill 65, and its impact on efforts to reform children's aid societies. His testimony in chief is enclosed, for the full dialog refer to the source link.
The reason I'm calling is as the executive director of the Foster Care Council of Canada. We advocate for transparency and accountability in child welfare. Specifically, there are two parts of the act I want to speak to. This will be pretty brief.
The part that I'm going to speak to is the section with regard to members. Currently, the Corporations Act that's in existence today-it's sections 306 and 307-allows members under 306 and non-members under 307 to request the list of existing members for advocating for policy changes, bylaw changes, things like that. You request a list of the members and then you write a letter to the members asking them to requisition the board for a meeting to discuss the issue or policy that you want to be changed. Under section 295, that's where the process gets done.
Under the new bill, Bill 65, it proposes to remove external input, so now it will be members only who can request a list of members. In many non-profit circumstances that might be okay and completely fine, because who else should have concerns? In the case of children's aid societies, they are non-profit corporations that are mandated into people's lives, so you have people who have their lives seriously affected by them and have no choice other than, at many times, to advocate for changes to policies through membership requests for a list of members. This will remove that ability for them, because the corporation of the CAS often does not allow people who are involved with CAS to become members. This is a common thing I'm hearing across the province.
With the lack of Ombudsman oversight of children's aid societies, with the Child and Family Services Review Board, which is a complaint body that actually has no power, because it's exempted from the powers and procedures act that most tribunals have-as you know and as many people are aware, the tribunal only has administrative power; it doesn't deal with a lot of the issues that are seriously affecting lives. So I'm hoping that there is an additional section similar to 307(1), (2), (3), (4), (5) and (6) of the Corporations Act that exists today that could be added for non-members to request lists.
Charges have been brought against Sudbury children's aid before. I'm currently involved in charges against the Ottawa CAS, prosecuting for failing to furnish a list of their members. So there are issues that need to be addressed by non-members, because if they exclude people who are advocating for changes simply because of that fact, then it's yet another level of accountability that's not available.
That's my presentation for today, and I'm open to any questions.
Part of the act, I believe, talks about the different types of non-profits, and I think that maybe you could create another type-for example, children's aid-where citizens' lives are forcefully affected by a certain type of non-profit. Subsequent to this, maybe we could talk about it at another time or through questions.
Source: Ontario Hansard