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Klees on Oversight
July 16, 2011 permalink
Anne Patterson has provided the text of a letter from Frank Klees on the subject of ombudsman oversight of CAS. Mr Klees favored bill 183 when it came up in the legislature, but if the Progressive Conservatives are elected to govern Ontario in October, don't expect them to enact legislation enabling the ombudsman. Mr Klees says ministers are elected and appointed to provide oversight and to hold agencies of the government accountable.
Under the previous Tory government from 1995 to 2003, children's aid doubled in size by three measures, budget, number of children and caseworkers. That same government orchestrated an extraordinary legislative session on May 3, 1999, the day before parliament was prorogued, in which the entire legislative process to amend the Child and Family Services Act was compressed into a single session. The abruptness of this procedure prevented the public at large from participating in the debate, or even knowing about it until it was too late. When it was all over, we learned that the bill greatly expanded the number of reasons for children's aid to take children from families. The Tory history suggests that they, as well as the Liberals, could benefit from an independent watchdog to ensure that government hears the concerns of families, and not just those of social work professionals.
Thank you for your email in which you ask me to clarify my comments concerning oversight of the CAS by the Ombudsman. As you rightly point out, I supported Bill 183 during debate in the legislature. I did so, because I share the frustrations of many in our province over the failings of the McGuinty government to live up to its responsibility to provide proper oversight of agencies such as the CAS. In the context of the McGuinty government's unwillingness to provide the necessary oversight, I and my colleagues supported the call for oversight by the Ombudsman.
I maintain however, that this should not be necessary if Cabinet Ministers would do their job. After all, they are elected and appointed to provide oversight and to hold agencies of the government accountable. As I stated to the media, it should not take an officer of the legislature to do what MPPs and ministers of the crown are elected to do. If they fail to do so, then the only recourse is to refer that responsibility to the Ombudsman.
My hope is that a PC government will have the opportunity to provide the oversight we agree is necessary for agencies such as the CAS...
Source: Anne Patterson