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Line in the Sand

May 6, 2013 permalink

Catherine Frei writes on children's aid. For fixcas readers there is little new in her well-informed message. There is some new material in fifteen reader comments.



The line is being drawn in the sand for Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies

Cambridge rally
Protesters at one of the many rallies in front of the Cambridge Children’s Aid.

After much criticism, especially in recent months, it looks as if things will be changing for Ontario’s child protection agencies. With Bill 42 passing second reading on April 11, 2013 (a bill to allow the Ombudsman the powers to investigate the Children’s Aid), a new funding formula being implemented by the province, scathing reports of abuse of power, and endless stories of abuse of children and youth in care saturating the media, it looks as if Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies (CAS) will be operating under greater scrutiny in the very near future.

This type of oversight has been long sought after as Ontario is the only province or territory in Canada that does not have independent oversight of these agencies which receive in excess of 1.5 billion dollars of taxpayers money each year. All of the investigative work is done internally, Board of Directors investigate complaints and the Child and Family Service Review Board is only able to investigate matters that are not before the courts.

There is virtually no recourse for families dealing with false allegations and evidently there are no proper investigations conducted. The Ministry of Child and Youth Services is governed by the province but the agencies themselves are private corporations, with no accountability or transparency, and an absence of proper checks and balances in place. In other words, we have the fox watching the chicken coup.

This year began with negative accounts of their inner workings, as Provincial Child Advocate, Irwin Elman, spoke to The Star in January about the systematic problems he is discovering within the system. Many children and youth die under the care of these agencies and little is being done to prevent these tragedies from reoccurring. During Elman’s interview it was also stated that, “Hundreds of key recommendations to prevent the deaths of children in custody have been ignored or rejected by government agencies.” Elman also cited that according to his office’s database,” Of the 1,635 recommendations made since 1995, only 17 per cent had been implemented. Another 24 per cent were listed as “had or will be implemented.”

In recent years there have been many reports of abuse, physical, sexual and even pedophiles going undetected. The agencies go to great lengths to protect those responsible for the abuse – not the children. Elman also referred to the privacy laws in the Child and Family Services Act as “bizarre.” It would seem as though these laws are in place to protect the agencies – not the vulnerable children and youth that they are charged with the responsibility to protect.

Past audits have raised concerns about misappropriated funds, lavish vacations, expensive SUV’s and the list goes on. There has been a recent investigation into the spending of a few agencies, among those chosen is Family and Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region and those results are due to be released soon. There are some agencies that receive even more funding annually than their municipal police forces, an organization that they have even more power over.

One prime example of the type of secrecy they maintain is the case of Donald Klasges, the 65-year-old foster parent that was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2010 for abusing a foster child and impregnating her. The Sudbury and Manitoulin District Children’s Aid Societies fought vigorously to have not only his name kept private, but all other reporting on the case as well. One can only imagine the tens of thousands of dollars that it must have cost the taxpayers for legal fees. Klasges sexually abused a young girl in his care from the time of her arrival at his home at age 11, until she was 14 and became pregnant as a result. Over the years he had 42 different foster children placed in his care, so this begs the question ….. Why would they want to keep his name, and the nature of his crimes secret with that many other children out there who potentially could have been victims of his abuse?

This case is not an isolated one, our province is plagued with these types of abuses, yet the Children’s Aid will continue to cry out to the public, pulling on their heartstrings for more money for the children they claim to protect. In the future we may very well see class action lawsuits against the province for damages by victims, and to remedy the problems it will be up to Ontario taxpayers once again. There are a slew of other social problems it will create that are very far reaching.

Recently we have seen scathing reports from Barbara Kay with the National Post, Katie Daubs from The Star, and many others in recent years alerting the public, despite the many limits and constraints due to privacy laws. The latest and most disturbing development was in March this year when Daubs reported on Peel Children’s Aid Society and the internal memo that was leaked to the media. The memo was urging staff to keep files open and begin as many new investigations as possible to secure funding. To date, the agencies funding is based on the number of children in care and files open. The implications of such a request are very serious, and if carried out would have profoundly negative effects on children and their families. As Daubs points out, it is a funding formula with “perverse incentives.”

Since 2006, several bills have been introduced calling for Ombudsman oversight. NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, was the first to introduce Bill 88 in 2006, which never made it past first reading, and two more bills were introduced since with no success. Finally, Monique Taylor of the NDP party introduced Bill 110 which made it through first and second reading to only be prorogued shortly afterwards due to Dalton McGuinty’s resignation. Undiscouraged by this, Taylor promptly introduced Bill 42 in late March of this year. It passed first and second reading with both the PC and NDP party voting unanimously in support of the bill along with one Liberal representative in agreement. The final vote was 55-34 in favour.

Provincial Ombudsman, Andre Marin, has been requesting the authority to investigate the Children’s Aid, but to date it has been staunchly opposed by the Liberal government. For advocates such as Neil Haskett and his wife Tabatha Haskett, they have been advocating for change since 2005. Founders of “The Ontario Coalition for Accountability,” they have worked tirelessly to get our politicians on board and have finally, along with many other advocates around the province, succeeded in getting two of three parties to agree that we have systematic problems that need urgent attention and the Ombudsman would be a good start.

Since Marin took office in April of 2005 there have been 3,537 complaints from that time until February 28, 2013, none of which he has been able to investigate. To allow him the power to investigate he would have the ability to look directly into their files, make recommendations and even lay criminal charges if that type of activity is uncovered.

Christina Hurst April 30, 2013 at 7:58 pm

Excellent read. I would like to add that CAS uses phycotropic drugs on these children, most of which are not recommended for children under the age of 18 years,and most of the children don’t need them. CAS has many private psychologists and psychiatrists on their payrolls, they will say anything, document anything in order for the children to be medicated. My own daughter is a being “drugged for profit” as well has been abandoned to a group home as they said “they have no where else to put her”.How about her home? why would they dump her into a group home? Profit! My daughter wants nothing more then to be home with her family, these people dont care about her needs, just the income she generates for them. They say kids are flexible and will adjust,well of course they will, after they have medicated them .No one is allowed to tell her they love her, only I can do that,and hearing it once every two weeks is not enough for a child.

October Fostey April 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I have prayed for this for many years now. I work hard to advocate for the families I serve and have had minimal results from challenging the CAS in our area when they have intimidated and terrorized some of the clients I have been proud to serve. The untold trauma’s these families and children have faced is horrendous and I can only hope that those who have been directly affected by these agencies will be justly served. Thank you so much for publishing this information. A new day will begin now.

Kelly Bedard April 30, 2013 at 9:14 pm

The Sarnia Lambton CAS took their turn with us and I’m happy to say they lost. We won our costs however nowhere near what it really cost our family. We knew our rights and would not back down. We actually have the first published case against Sarnia in the Ontario Court of Justice. The presiding Justice saw through their lies and actually was quite critical of the tactics they had deployed. He agreed there appeared to be a personal vendetta between the worker and us. A children’s lawyer also made comment that the Society had put more resources into our case than any other they had ever seen. We will be pursuing legal action in a class action if it is granted status. Feel free to look up the case on CanLii under 2011ONCJ 802. This Bill is well past due.

AboutTime April 30, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Fantastic! It’s about time. Many people don’t pay attention or even care until it affects you but when it does, wow…what an eye-opener. Seriously? An organization with more power than the police who doesn’t have to answer to anyone and can hide so much behind the privacy laws, and they clearly watch each others backs too. You can add Cochrane to the list of agencies that leave a lot to be desired. You know in some cases it only takes one or two caseworkers with hidden agendas or a bias to terrorize communities and ruin good families. I would very much welcome a class action and in the meantime I will continue to document and wait for the day that I can expose the corruption and incompetence in north eastern Ontario as well.

July Mcdonald April 30, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Thank you very much for this article. Well researched, well written and to the facts. I wish there were more article such as this one! Our tax dollars are being spent on an organization (private one at that) that has no accountability. To me, as a Canadian citizen that is unacceptable. Our Government need to wake up and smell the roses because we will not stand for this kind of behaviour.

purley quirt May 1, 2013 at 11:45 am

This article is an excellent summary of the parts, and reflects the observations of the many. However, I would like to add a common denominator that invades several ” systems” originally designed to help people( police, physicians, counsellors, schools ) where a “disassociation” has occurred and people are only seen ( and understood) on a “per event ” basis. The life of others is only a ” moment in time”…. to be passed over ….or passed on.. to another person. This total “breaking’ of the bond of brotherly love and caring for our neighbor” has left us all shattered and broken ( even the workers). The cure is not to be placed solely on yet another government service… Someone inside society itself, inside the neighborhood, inside caring individuals, need to connect people to ” restoration” of their lives ( both the helpers and the victims who can no longer see anything beyond their own needs).

The CAS stands out as a “group” that does not even follow it’s own standards of operation and demonstrates the boldness people have that are ” not answerable to anyone”. This makes it a perfect scapegoat. I welcome that answerability…. but it does not remove the reality that we are answerable to God for the right things that we ” failed to do” …. all of us.

The CAS concept needs a total return back to rescuing the family and understanding how much the children need the love of their own parents. A hope exists………We stand at the threshold of government $ funding a ” whole society” perspective of health ( Population Health) and that is our doorway to getting it right …NOT… simply the Ombudsman discovering what’s wrong… there must ALSO be something that “sets it right” again!

Brad May 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Other professions and organizations abuse these foot soldiers themselves. One such incident being a bunch of parents as well as myself at my son’s school having them called on us for basically not signing up with a dentist (from what I understand). We were all required to fill out some forms and return them to her but a lot of the parents’ dentists were either too busy or refuse to sign them, though they see the child regularly. Situations like that do NOT require cas attention, not over unfilled forms. Some parents already received visits (I was only threatened via letter to have them notified). My son’s dentist took care of everything and were upset over it just as the rest of us. I’ve already had to fight and get him home when he was first born over his mother’s previous relationship involvement with them even though her and I were broken up. Got him home just after a year old (finally home from the hospital since he was taken a month after premature birth)but they had false accusations I continuously had to prove myself for the next couple years. Up until this dental incident they left me alone and we left them alone. Dr. Maria Van Harten was the name on my letter.

Khrystyne May 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm


I am glad that finally Children’s Aid will be exposed. When I was young, my mother came home and I was not there. The children’s Aid worker took me and placed me in a foster home. I didn’t know how I got there, nor do I remember when I returned to my mother. But I remember that my mother gave the worker a good tongue lashing, and she never tried that stunt on my mother again. This happened back in the Mid ’70′s. You have to stand up to them or they will take over. I hope others will agree with me. For those who are able, take them down.

marriam amber hammoudi May 1, 2013 at 10:17 pm

my case is 1251 days old tomorrow… a final order has been placed upon us by stratford family court judge r.w.rogerson…having based his judgement on a parenting capacity assessment done by doc wittenberg of sick kids toronto, and the testistimony of social workers from victoria goderich and stratford offices…with a warning not to publish or go to the media about my story…which started in goderich during a family vacation…followed us home to voctoria, brought us back foricablly to goodercich and by court oder held us there..foloowed us to stratford , reapprehended our babies and went for crown ward ship with no access…this wittenberg fellow recommended it… the judge has granted them crownwardship no access because ourildren will be harder to adopt if the see us…they have been labled protesdent when we are not. my daughter wont settle for them and a psychiatris form stroaford S.S.U. doc salo…diagnosed her with adhd and recommended placing her on biphentin….says if they dont she’ll be a teenage mom high school drop out with low grades drug addict… really i attended a meeting where this creature with a licennsec to prescribe medication sat acrooss form me and spewed this shit out of her mouth about my baby… our appeall was just accepted by the supreme court and my lawyer’s reviewing transcripts… we havent seen our babes since december…and GOD only knows when this will end…

Fred May 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm

This article is wonderful. As others have said you do not realize what goes on until you have to deal with this agency. We would not support hospitals without registered nurses – why do we support this agency where most of the “social workers” are not registered so that they can avoid practicing according to the professional standards of the College of Social Workers. The agency needs accountability not the extra money being given to waterloo by the Liberal government. Oversight is definitely in order and the ombudsman can expect to be busy

Fred May 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm

This article is wonderful. As others have said you do not realize what goes on until you have to deal with this agency. We would not support hospitals without registered nurses – why do we support this agency where most of the “social workers” are not registered so that they can avoid practicing according to the professional standards of the College of Social Workers. The agency needs accountability not the extra money being given to waterloo by the Liberal government. Oversight is definitely in order and the ombudsman can expect to be busy

Shelley May 4, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I once lived in the CCAS and I was in a receving home and was smacked cause they thought I was drink so I ran away and they had helacoptior s up looking for me and the police I had to live on the street for about 3 weeks and when I finally got found I was sleeping in an under ground grauge in a boat and I told them that I did not want to go back to the home cause I was feeling like I was begin center out. Now I alos have children that I have been fighting for and fasle allagiction were made against me and now I do not have my child cause of the ccas or cas I am trying to get my 4 year year old home now but cause there is a one year to fight for you child the cas new about a parenting capacity that was done on myself that they kept saying to myself and the father that we may ask for a parenting capacity and when they finally asked for it my child was 8 months old and we were put on a waiting list and was not seen till my child was 11 months old so basically we lots all right to our child we told that if we did this that the cas would work with us but in fact they went against us and asked for crownward with access even tho the parenting capacity was sort of in our fav but because the one year was not meet cause the capacity was not done till june we lots our right and had to agree to kinship care as we thought it was going to help us beable to work to bring our child home but the cas went for corwnward on us I feel that it was all a lie and they did what they had to to keep our child away from us and only giving us one visit a week with our child and now that she is going to start school in sept they want the kinship to adopt her and we lose all our right to our child and that tears us apart

Terri-Anne Bucholtz May 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I truly believe Esther Buckareff deserves a major MEDAL OF FREEDOM !!! there SHOULD BE A MONUMENT BUILT IN HER HONOR!!!!

Wow between her BEAUTIFUL & MOST FEARED By cas most intelligent work with the complete support of her faculty!! , along with the warriors of the coalition against FAMILY TERRORISM & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, LEADERS FROM all our local groups THEY ALL TRULY DESERVE A MEDAL OF FREEDOM !!! I sense that acknowledgements in the future as we watch on the history channel , will address them ALL as HERO’s , as they stay strong and fight for the GREAT OF GOOD :) THey all do this work for FREE not one dime payed as a advocate and fighter for YOU ! and your FUTURE FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S WELLBEING RIGHTS & SAFETY IN SOCIETY ! and point out how your getting bluffed to support it as a hard working TAX PAYER .

with all of the controversy and PROOF of the Powers resistance rational moral , take accountability & or to show morale with working together to find great resolutions , , it proves exactly the POINT WE MAKE -- RAPE RAPE -- HELP RAPE !!! FOR THE FUTURE !!! WITH NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH NO FREEDOM TO healthy debate / to FIGHT TO PROTECT THE FUTURE ! we are being completely RAPED by our own Country

ALL OF THE GROUP leaders are WARRIORS ! deserve a medal of FREEDOM ! if they / we are all able to "STICK TOGETHER PERSISTENT & STRONG" , to LIBERATE our FUTURE to be HERO'S to these family's and kids, they need so desperately!! Our children need to learn compassion as they fight for whats RIGHT to be a true Canadian !

Advocate May 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Thank you for the posting the website for this very controversial but important documentary that sheds light on the inner workings of child “so-called” protection in Ontario. I took part in this doc and was an assistant researcher for the doc as well. Esther received a more than well deserved award for it, and it is a fine work that speaks mounds and gives all of the children that have died in the care of CAS a voice from the grave as well. It was an honour to work with her, know her and I will be forever thankful for her committment and integrity. She deserves all the praise she has received so far … and then some. I encourage people to watch the doc online, it is only 75 mins long but a real eye-opener!

Source: Cambridge Citizen

child draws line in the sand