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Undisclosed Disclosure Policy

January 16, 2013 permalink

Chris Carter found there was a document giving disclosure policy for children's aid societies and requested a copy through freedom of information. The reply from Cate Parker reads in part:

I am writing regarding your access request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act). You requested access to the following information: I want the MCYS's file disclosure policy as imposed on the CASs sometime in perhaps 2012 which we learned about in a recent CFSRB decision:

On January 7, 2013, the ministry received your full fee payment in the amount of $56.00. Enclosed, in their entirety, are the ministry records responsive to your request. According to the Child Welfare Secretariat, the responsive document, known as the Ministry's Case Information Disclosure Policy, is from 1985 and not 2012. It continues to guide Children's Aid Societies.

The responsive document is on fixcas as a photocopy (6 megabytes pdf) or a web page. The link cited by Parker is incorrect, the real one is P.O. v. FAMILY AND CHILDREN SERVICES NIAGARA.

The document as presented is a fake. Cate Parker cited it as current policy, yet the policy formed in 1985 has been updated only once, in 1986. No government organization uses a policy document for 27 years without a single change. The rules relate to the forms of records existing in the 1980s, paper, computer disks and tapes. There is no mention in the policy of internet, email, memory sticks or cell phone cameras, though these technologies will surely be part of any current policy on records. The document uses the term "retarded", though that term has since been expunged from social work practice.

There is no way to know why the wrong document was provided. Whatever it was, we hope Mrs Parker will find the right policy document and forward it to Mr Carter without additional charge.

In spite of its infirmities, the fact that the Ontario government presented this obsolete document as current regulation should enable its use to pry information from social services files.