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July 8, 2010 permalink

Ralliers converged yesterday on Sault Sainte Marie Ontario.

New rallies have been scheduled for Timmins, August 2 and Pembroke, July 28.



Group to stage rally in front of CAS office

A group that charges Children's Aid Societies need further oversight to stop them from overzealously targeting innocent parents, brings its cause to Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday.

The Children's Aid Society has to go in, and we have no problem with that, but there have been a number of cases, and it has been proven in court, that they have gone after innocent parents," said Neil Haskett, the Sudburybased organizer of the group.

Haskett is pushing MPPs to pass Bill 93, a private member's bill that would allow Ontario's Ombudsman to investigate the CAS.

We would either like legislation, or preferably we would like the Ontario Ombudsman, to have oversight of the 53 Children's Aid Societies," in the province, said Haskett.

The local CAS disagrees.

Jim Baraniuk, executive director of Algoma's CAS, said he sees little point in adding regulation to what is, "probably one of the most regulated social service organizations in the province."

He said provincial standards govern when CAS becomes involved in a case, and when it comes to "non-voluntary or intrusive action," the CAS must get its authority from the courts.

Ultimately the judge, through legislation, makes a determination of whether we become involved or not," he said. "It's really a highly-regulated system."

Haskett is not calling for the CAS system to be dismantled, but he charges that too often child welfare workers pursue cases that have no merit.

It could be a neighbour that's making a phone call, it could be a separation where one of the parents feels that they're not going to get the child, there's a number of malicious calls to the Children's Aid Society," said Haskett. "Unfortunately, because they're anonymous phone calls and it's in the Child and Family Services Act that they're allowed to be anonymous phone calls, nobody really knows."

Baraniuk said for those with concerns about the operation of the child welfare system, an internal process exists, as does an external body called the Child and Family Services Review Board, which was set up by the government as an impartial body to review complaints and to intervene.

As a taxpayer, I take exception to having overlapping systems that might be doing the same thing and, from my perspective, I think they have already established a number of regulatory bodies for auditing child welfare. Adding one more, I just don't think that's value for money," said Baraniuk.

Haskett's rally was slated for 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday in front of the Court House and Chidren's Aid Society building on Queen Street.

Around 30 people were expected to attend, including William Mullins-Johnson, the local man who spent more than a decade in jail after being wrongly-convicted of killing his niece, said Haskett.

Haskett said his group has held similar rallies at 15 of the province's 53 Children's Aid Societies.

Source: Sault Star

Addendum: Here are photos of the Soo rally.