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London Rally in Support of Bill 131
November 20, 2010 permalink
Yesterday OPSEU planned a march outside London and Middlesex CAS asking the government to provide more money for children's aid. After the announcement of bill 131 proponents of CAS reform organized a flash mob in support of the bill. Based on the photographs by Chad Wells, the CAS opponents seem to have carried the day. So far there is no press coverage. Expand for the OPSEU press release and a report from Chad Wells.
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)
MEDIA ADVISORY - Children's services workers plan 'Block Walk' to mark Blue Ribbon Day in London, Nov. 19
LONDON, ON, Nov. 18 /CNW/ - Staff at London and Middlesex Children's Aid Society, will be taking part in a 'Block Walk' on Friday Nov. 19 to protest against chronic underfunding of children's services in London and area and elsewhere across Ontario.
The Walk is part of Blue Ribbon Day across the province, organized by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) and the Ontario Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Blue Ribbon Day seeks to draw public attention to the failure of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services to put into place long-term, sustainable funding for children's services.
- Friday Nov. 19
- 12:00 noon
- 1680 Oxford St. E & 493 Dundas St.
For further information:
ONTARIO PUBLIC SERVICE EMPLOYEES UNION (OPSEU)
Source: Canada News Wire
I attended the rally today in London Ontario and it was a great success. Two reporters from two different news stations attended as well. The excutive director came out with her two managers and told us she supported what we were doing, I got a picture of Christine and myself with the director holding a sign saying support bill 131. I will upload the pictures tonight and send them to you. CAS also decided to have a march on the same day to raise money for CAS (about 30 people). We joined in their walk and held our signs high with the police following of course.. There was lots of police presence and I spoke with one officer that totally supported what we were doing and knew of the corruptions within CAS. At the end of the rally three police came flying into the CAS parking lot and went inside. I also got some pictures of the three cop cars parked in (foster care parents parking only) in front of the London CAS. Will email you later with more updates and pictures for your site. Many people stopped and came out of CAS to talk about the abuses they have faced and LOTS of foster parents as well.
Source: email from Chad Wells
Addendum: The London Free Press covered the rally.
Children’s Aid must have oversight
Ombudsman should be given the legal authority to look into CAS operations across Ontario
According to the protesters, CAS doesn’t stand for Children’s Aid Society. Instead, their homemade signs deliver a darker message: “CAS: Child Abuse Society,” states one placard. “CAS = Corrupt And Secret,” reads another.
Those are serious allegations. And they may be completely unfounded and untrue.
But that’s the problem: We don’t know. And we can’t find out.
That’s because Ontario is the only province that hasn’t granted its ombudsman the power to investigate Children’s Aid Societies.
And that’s precisely why Christine Sorko-Houle and a handful of other protesters were milling around the entrance to the CAS of London and Middlesex on Oxford St. E. on Friday.
“I’m not in any way minimizing that Children’s Aid has a very hard job to do,” said Sorko-Houle, who’d driven in from Tillsonburg for the demonstration. “However, I am opposing the fact they’re resisting oversight by the Ontario government.
“There are a lot of complaints swept under the rug, because the ombudsman can’t do anything about them,” she added. “And it makes no sense.”
According to the 2009/2010 annual report released by the office of Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin, his office received 2,201 complaints about Children’s Aid Societies in this province between 2005 and 2010. Those complaints included CAS refusal 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 by CAS staff and CAS refusal to permit access to children in their custody.
As the report stated, all those complaints were turned away, because the ombudsman “does not have oversight of child protection services.”
Outside the London CAS offices on Friday, the protesters were joined at one point by two foster parents. And all of them said that CAS officials have made false allegations, aren’t accountable and generally behave in a condescending manner towards clients and their families.
“Families are broken apart needlessly, children are deprived of stable foster care, adoptions fail, children suffer abuse,” said Sorko-Houle. “(The CAS) is miserably failing our children in Ontario.”
Jane Fitzgerald, executive director of the Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex, was unavailable to comment on those accusations. But an assistant speaking on her behalf said, “Our shared interest (with the protesters) is in protecting our community’s vulnerable children.”
More answers might surface if Rosario Marchese gets his way. The NDP MPP for the Toronto riding of Trinity-Spadina introduced a private member’s bill (Bill 131) last week which, if implemented, would allow the provincial ombudsman to investigate complaints about hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, school boards and Children’s Aid Societies.
As it stands now, complaints about the CAS are handled by the Child and Family Services Review Board. But it focuses on procedural issues, and its recommendations don’t have to be followed by the 53 Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario.
The bottom line is this: The CAS is an incorporated, not-for-profit agency governed by volunteer boards and funded by the provincial government. In 2008, there were nearly 18,000 children under its care and supervision.
Surely, those children — and their families and foster care-givers — deserve some answers when things go awry.
Source: London Free Press