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February 14, 2011 permalink
The scheduled Woodstock rally took place on Friday, and made the local newspaper.
Protest calls for more oversight
WOODSTOCK— A local grassroots group held a rally Friday calling for more accountability at agencies and facilities caring for the province's most vulnerable.
Advocates from throughout Ontario gathered in front of Oxford Children's Aid Society (CAS) on Light Street in Woodstock to raise awareness of Bill 131 — a private member's bill that would allow the Ontario ombudsman to investigate the CAS, along with hospitals, schools and long-term care facilities.
"Children and seniors are our most vulnerable and we need to protect them," said Christine Sorko of Tillsonburg, who organized the group Voices of Innocent Families.
"Families are broken apart needlessly, children are deprived of stable foster care, adoptions fail and children suffer abuse while in care."
In 2009-10, the Ontario ombudsman received 296 complaints about Children's Aid societies. In the past five years, his office has had more than 2,000 complaints about societies in the province.
"Ontario is the only province whose Ombudsman is not able to take complaints about child protection services, and ombudsmen have been calling for this to change since 1975," said Linda Williamson, director of communications for the ombudsman.
The executive director of the local Children's Aid Society said it is not up to the agency to decide who oversees its work – it's the Ontario government's decision.
"Children's Aid societies are very highly regulated by the government and there are a number of accountability mechanisms that exist currently," said Bruce Burbank of Oxford CAS. "There are standards and regulations we follow, and we have regular reviews by the ministry.
He added the agency also has a Child and Family Services Review Board, which clients have recourse through.
The courts and auditor general also act as watchdogs over the agencies.
Sorko, along with representatives from other advocacy groups, such as Protecting Canadian Children and Grandparents Rights, has travelled across the province holding more than 80 rallies to bring awareness to what they call "unlawful work of social work by CAS."
One passerby stopped to sign their petition.
"I agree with your theory 100 %," the man said, adding he would sign the petition five times if he could.
Source: Woodstock Sentinel Review