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CAS Defies CFSRB - Again

February 11, 2012 permalink

A woman in Chatham has unanswered questions for children's aid. Her application to the Child and Family Services Review Board (CFSRB) resulted in a publication ban on her name. When the CFSRB granted her a hearing Chatham-Kent CAS used the courts to block it. The press cannot say what her questions are and CAS executive director Mike Stephens will give only a fragmentary comment. How's that for government transparency?

Fixcas has reported several cases of other children's aid societies refusing to follow a decision from the CFSRB, so far no cases in which they acted in accord with the decision.



CKCS throws up legal roadblock

LAW: Judicial review sought by local agency

A Chatham woman wants some answers from Chatham-Kent Children's Services, but she's facing a legal roadblock to her questions.

The woman, who can't be identified because of a publication ban regarding details of her case, said she followed proper process and made an application to the Child and Family Service Review Board. The provinicial organization deals with public complaints about children's aid societies across Ontario.

The review board granted the woman a two-day hearing.

However, the CKCS hired a London-based law firm to seek a judicial review of the decision by the CFSRB, regarding the woman's hearing.

Mike Stephens, CKCS executive director, said he couldn't discuss the matter because of a publication ban, when recently contacted by The Chatham Daily News.

When asked if seeking a judicial review is something the CKCS has done in the past, he said: "It's the first and only time we've done it."

The only other comment he would make is the CFSRB is eligible to receive certain complaints, but "they're not eligible to receive them all."

Now, the matter is set to go to a divisional court where it will be heard by a panel of three judges.

The CFSRB will have a lawyer arguing on its behalf.

The woman said she will likely have to represent herself as she can't afford a lawyer.

And, she readily admits she doesn't have the capability to represent herself.

"I have never been in divisional court before," she said. "I have no idea what they're even talking about."

She is also upset that she will now have to go out of town to deal with the issue.

The Daily News asked CFSRB officials if it is common for a children's aid society to seek a judicial review after the agency has granted someone the right to have a hearing.

An e-mail response was received from Jim Cowan, the designated media spokesperson for Social Justice Tribunals Ontario, of which the CFSRB is a constituent tribunal.

"Judicial reviews happen from time to time as part of the process of administrative law," he said.

He noted all SJTO tribunals receive legal services from the legal unit. Responding to judicial reviews is part of that work and is covered in the budget for legal services, he said.

Source: Chatham Daily News

Addendum: The Child and Family Services Review Board has a page on its website titled Decisions. It advises: Please click here to leave this website and access the Board's decisions on the Canlii website. We did so and found 327 results, none of them for Chatham-Kent. The Chatham Daily News quotes CAS executive director Mike Stephens downplaying his propensity to litigate, saying:

When asked if seeking a judicial review is something the CKCS has done in the past, he said: "It's the first and only time we've done it."

It is the first time he has sought a judicial review because it is his first case. Chatham-Kent takes 100 percent of its CFSRB cases before the courts.

Source: Thanks to an alert reader for pointing this out.