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Pembroke Rally (Again)
August 3, 2013 permalink
Just two days after a rally for accountability in Pembroke, another group conducted a second rally for the same cause.
Support Bill 42 to give Ombudsman’s office power of scrutiny
Efforts to build support for Bill 42, which would bring agencies such as Children’s Aid Societies under the scrutiny of the Ontario Ombudsman, continued in Pembroke on Friday.
About a dozen or so members of the Kingston and Quinte Citizens for Accountability, along with members of the public, held a floating picket around the city, as they tried to get their message out for the need of oversight and accountability for CAS organizations.
After starting at the the corner of Pembroke Street West and Crandall Street by the West End Mall in the morning, the group relocated at 1 p.m. to Shamrock Park in the downtown core, then marched from there to the Renfrew County Family and Children’s Services offices on Mary Street.
Curtis Jade Kingston, one of the rally organizers, is a child and family justice advocate who works out of Belleville. He’s part of both the Citizens for Accountability and Canada Court Watch, which are both calling for greater oversight and accountability of Children’s Aid Societies.
“Most here are in support of Bill 42 (Ombudsman Amendment Act - Children’s Aid Societies - 2013), which would give the Ombudsman oversight over them,” he said. The provincial watchdog fields about 2,000 complaints about the conduct of CAS offices across the province annually, but is unable to do anything about it as it doesn’t have the mandate.
Kingston said few people realize Children’s Aid Societies in Ontario are not directly run by the province but are operated by a local board of volunteer directors independent from the province.
He said Ontario is the only province in Canada which doesn’t directly run its child protection services, something which he and others feel has to change. It is also the only province which doesn’t permit the public access to their own CAS records created by the front-line child protection authorities about them, and has allowed CAS’s child protection to not be required to register with a professional college, such as the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Services Workers.
He said the work that Children’s Aid Societies does is important, and the majority of foster parents and workers are top notch and do good work.
“We’re not against them,” he said. “We’re simply trying to have accountable for when things go wrong.”
Kingston said passing legislation to give the Ombudsman the authority to give them oversight won’t solve all of their problems, but it will help.
“This is not the end of the road by any means,” he said, “but it is a major step in the right direction.”
A message was left with Arijana Tomicic, executive director of Renfrew County FCS for comment, but as of press time no response was received.
If passed, the Ombudsman Amendment Act would give the provincial watchdog oversight into the functions of agencies such as Family and Children’s Services, municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals, (often called the MUSH sector), as well as police services and long- term care homes.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist
Source: Pembroke Daily Observer
Source: Facebook, Curtis Kingston
Ken Reid posted a picture of the whole team near the St Columbkille Cathedral, 162 Pembroke St East.
Source: Facebook, Ken Reid