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Bill 88 Hearings
December 6, 2013 permalink
On December 4 the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills held hearings on bill 88. The deadline for scheduling an oral presentation was November 29, only a few days after the announcement. The quick schedule meant many interested parties did not find out before the deadline. The transcript of the presentations is not yet available online but observations by Vern Beck are enclosed.
Vernon Beck I attended the hearings at Queens Park yesterday on Bill 88. Court Watch submitted approximately 1 1/2" of documents to the Committee concerning the failure of CAS agencies to conduct business in an open and accountable manner. Jane Scharf, Pamela Palmer and Linda Plourd made excellent presentations. Near the closing, Archbishop Dorian Baxter made an oral presentation which stunned the committee and audience. Dorian caught the attention of everyone in the room when he made the closing statement that the passing of Bill 88 would open up a Pandora's box of problems and cause untold damage to children and families in Ontario. Many agree that passing of this Bill will be a big mistake for the Province of Ontario.
For those supporting the Bill, it seems that anyone who spoke in favor of Bill 88 was a person who would directly or indirectly financially benefit in some way from passing of the Bill. Bill 88 is literally a money grab by CAS agencies and those who provide professional services for CAS. As I have pointed out in my correspondence to the Premier, additional programs and funding can be put in place to support those persons above the age 16 without this funding being controlled by the CAS.
Overall, while it appeared that every effort was made to suppress those opposed to Bill 88, those who did manage to get their name on the list at the last minute did a great job getting the "no" side heard.
Source: Facebook, Canada Court Watch
The next day Jane Scharf presented a petition opposing the bill to the constituency office of sponsor MPP Rod Jackson in Barrie. Later that same day Mr Jackson attended one of a scheduled series of meetings promoting the bill.
The event occurred at the Mapleview Community Church south of Barrie. The meeting was attended primarily by supporters of the bill. When visitors declared their opposition, Student Life Director Laura Fess tried to get them to leave the building. Mr Jackson spoke to the crowd, followed by other supporters. They did not answer questions.
The meeting was one of a cross-provincial series (in the expand block). We can expect to see a stream of favorable press reports from these presentations to carefully selected audiences.
Tour Dates and Locations
- November 14, 2013: Windsor
- December 5, 2013: Barrie
- December 17, 2013: Niagara
- February 6, 2014: Sudbury
- February 11, 2014: Kitchener and Waterloo
- February 11, 2014: London
- February 13, 2013: Ottawa
To Attend The Tour Or To Inquire About Having The Tour Visit Your Community Please Call 1-705-726-5538 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org For More Information
Addendum: On December 11 the committee amended bill 88 bill. It now requires the child to initiate a request for care after age 16 and requires CAS to provide the care when requested. Another amendment allows the child to collect benefits under two other programs while getting support from CAS. Jane Scharf suggests these amendments may be enough to get CAS to switch to opposing the bill, ensuring its defeat.
The transcript of the December 4 hearing is now online. A dozen witness spoke in favor of the bill, Fay Martin, Marvin Bernstein, Laura Durst-Fess, Mark Williams, Lee Ann Chapman, Mary Ballantyne, Michele Farrugia, Kayla Sutherland, Don Weber, Johanna Macdonald and Stephen Gaetz with Irwin Elman adding qualified support. Owing to the short notice, only five opponents spoke Jane Scharf, Pamela Palmer, Nicolas Stathopoulos, Dorian Baxter and Linda Plourde. The opposing remarks are enclosed.
Ms. Jane Scharf: I’ll use all the time. I probably need five times as much.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Okay. Please state your name and proceed.
Ms. Jane Scharf: My name is Jane Scharf, and I’m presenting a brief to the committee that I can’t possibly cover in five minutes, so I’ve asked the clerical staff to provide the committee members with a copy. There’s a report we’re calling The Dam is Breaking, and attached to that is an affidavit from Pamela Palmer, with some exhibits that go with the affidavit. Obviously, I can’t go through all this material, but I’ll just try to highlight what is in here.
We have put this document on a website, so if the public wants to look at the full version that the committee is going to see, they can look at it there. The website is under www.contactyourmpp.com, and the page title is “Standing Committee Brief.” So the affidavit is there and the brief is there, as well. I’ll just repeat one more time: www.contactyourmpp.com.
Primarily, we want to ask the committee to scrap this bill entirely. We think that there are serious problems with the administration of the children’s aid societies that are well known to the public at this point. Until those problems are fixed, we don’t want to see their jurisdiction expanded to include all youth aged 16 to 24, even those who were never in the care of children’s aid, which Bill 88 would do.
We’re making the claim here that in Rod Jackson’s presentation to the public, he misrepresented the facts in his promotion of this bill. We want the committee to scrap the bill as well as to file a complaint with the Integrity Commissioner under section 30 of the Members’ Integrity Act, because an MPP has an obligation to support the interests of the public and the government when they’re undertaking a political activity, such as introducing a private member’s bill.
This material that we’re submitting is evidence, and like I say, we have sworn the exhibits. We have evidence—
Mr. Rod Jackson: Go for it.
Ms. Jane Scharf: Pardon me?
Mr. Rod Jackson: Go for it.
Ms. Jane Scharf: Go for what? Are you supposed to talk when I’m presenting?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): No. Please continue.
Ms. Jane Scharf: I don’t appreciate being interrupted, Mr. Jackson.
We have seven areas where we’re providing proof of difficulties or misrepresentations. First of all, Mr. Jackson says that there is nothing for youth 16 years old, 17 years old, except if they’re youth who are in the children’s aid. We have presented here a document, put together by the Ottawa police—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): One minute left.
Ms. Jane Scharf: —and it’s Youth Resource List, and it’s 27 pages long.
As well, there are documents here showing that there is welfare provision for 16 and 17, and they treat them as minors, not as adults, as Mr. Jackson suggests.
Basically, nothing in the promotion is true. It’s all fabrication of fact, and this presentation demonstrates that.
As well, we’ve done a list of public information available to show that the CAS is not even following its own mandate—like, the auditors—the Ombudsman is having issues with them. The children’s advocate has said he doesn’t accept this bill in its current form.
In our brief, we have a statement from six advocates—or seven, including myself—
The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): Ms. Scharf—
Ms. Jane Scharf: —Robert McQuaid—just one second—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Thank you. I’m afraid that your time is up.
Ms. Jane Scharf: —Dorian Baxter—please let me—just two seconds here—
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): No. I’ve got Ms. Pamela Palmer on the line, coming up to speak next. I’m afraid you have to end.
Ms. Jane Scharf: Can you ask her to read the list of advocates?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): She will speak as she sees fit.
Ms. Pamela Palmer: Hello. Everything I speak to is found in the evidence presented to you minutes ago by Jane Scharf, in my commissioned affidavit and on our website, contactyourMPP.com.
We have been in contact with many youth currently in the care of the CAS who have all complained about abuse and neglect they face in the care of the CAS. They even tried to be here today to present to you.
CAS is a private corporation that answers to no one, with the exception of lax oversight by the Ministry of Children and Youth but only when there appears to be problems with the financial management of the corporation. Not even an MPP can investigate the CAS nor intervene on behalf of a family or child. The Ombudsman does not have oversight, even though he has been fighting for years to oversee the CAS. Their only review board is internal and has zero power to force the CAS to act in accordance with their findings.
They currently receive $1.2 billion a year of taxpayer money, yet over 80% of the street population comes directly from the CAS: youth who cannot secure income by any other means. The CAS has abandoned them. The CAS is not paying any money towards these kids, but it is collecting the money for these kids from the taxpayer. What will happen to their trusts and estates with this bill?
The youth in care represent less than 1% of the youth population, yet they are grossly overrepresented in the streets and prisons.
This bill should be about forcing them to clean up their act, not extend their power and jurisdiction through one of their ex-board members, Rod Jackson. This is a conflict of interest that needs to be investigated immediately.
Nine youth are represented in this bill, handpicked by the CAS—not the thousands of others currently in their care, in detention centres and jails, on the streets, or currently on OW or ODSP. None of those youth have been asked if they would want to go into the care of the CAS. I doubt any of them are here today to present, nor are there OW and ODSP workers, who will lose their jobs.
Much of the youth supports and shelters currently offered will be forced to close their doors. They have much better outcomes for the youth than the CAS. Why are they not being awarded this jurisdiction when their outcomes fare much better? Provincial advocate Irwin Elman said himself, “They do not have the capacity to support these youth 16 to 18, and I would like to see it mandated elsewhere.” He even wants this to bill die on the committee table.
Rod Jackson did not practise due diligence when researching and writing this bill. He has misled and misrepresented the facts to the public in legislation by failing to once mention the name “the children’s aid society” in one of his speeches to the Legislature. It has proven to the public he is not trustworthy and should be investigated by the Integrity Commissioner. In fact, we ask that you send a report to the Integrity Commissioner for further investigation.
This bill is nothing but a sneaky way to privatize welfare. Welfare is currently offered by the government. CAS is a private corporation already profiting off the backs of our children and youth and families. Not even the courts can order the CAS to provide services to their clients. Section 51(3.2)(c) of the Child and Family Services Act forbids it. Will you be able to guarantee that these youth receive services and support? CAS has more power than the police. Section 40 of the CFSA: The CAS can enter your home with or without a warrant, use force with or without police presence and apprehend children with or without a warrant.
In order for this to be a voluntary agreement, as it is being presented, there would need to be amendments to the OW and ODSP laws first, or this agreement is forced upon them by having no other means of support.
Let me leave you with this thought: The CAS has proven time and time again it fails—Jeffrey Baldwin, Randal Dooley, Katelynn Sampson and Matthew Reid, to name but a few. They will use their powers to abuse the funding process. See the Toronto Star article dated March 14, 2013—
Ms. Pamela Palmer: —a leaked memo by the Peel CAS where they instructed their workers not to return any children home, so that they can retain their funding. That is the grossest form of abuse you can find from an agency that is supposed to protect and serve our most vulnerable. They obviously only serve and protect themselves. They will destroy the future of this province and potentially this country.
The only thing that should be done with this bill is scrap it. It is one page. Scrap it.
As we speak, our youth have rights and freedoms under the charter. Do not allow their rights to be taken away and their futures destroyed. Thank you very much.
Mr. Nicolas Stathopoulos: Yes, I can. I was expecting to go on at 10 or 15 after, but I’m ready for you now.
Mr. Bill Walker: It’s not loud enough.
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We’ll have to have the volume higher.
Mr. Nicolas Stathopoulos: Okay. I just mentioned that I was expecting to go on at 15 after. Am I on now?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): We are moving you up because a number of other presenters weren’t available. You have up to five minutes.
Mr. Nicolas Stathopoulos: All right, thank you. Ready?
The Chair (Mr. Peter Tabuns): Please proceed. State your name for Hansard.
Mr. Nicolas Stathopoulos: My name is Nicolas Stathopoulos, and I would like to thank the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills for allowing me an opportunity to present my concerns and view on the subject of whether Bill 88 should be implemented into law. This committee’s mandate to hear from the public is indeed a proper course to exercise in a democratic process, and in consideration of a variety of arguments or insights, either for or against the passing of any bill into law.
However, although I do appreciate the committee’s function to gather a variety of views before the final reading, I also believe that there was not enough time allocated for Canadians to express their views on the matter of Bill 88 in relation to the “yes” side’s ability to stack the cards in their favour.
By that I mean that any present Internet search today on the subject of Bill 88 will yield documents, videos and an impression of overwhelming support for the yes side, as documented by several journalists, politicians and social worker lobbyists, who, for the most part, remain hidden, having a vested interest to see the bill passed—all this in absence of a visible argument against Bill 88.
What is becoming apparent is evidence of a campaign that appears to be perceptually managed and void of the little opposition against it. It’s very simple in today’s world to attain a consensus: All one has to do is work unilaterally, apply commonly known methods for radical or basic social change, and never or seldom inform the public until PR teams have completed their objectives and are in place. By the time public consultation is called, such as this committee mandate to document public views, it’s often too late to put up an effective opposition and convincing arguments, principally because of the time constraints implemented against the opposing side.
Bill 88’s objective would lead to—although not documented as such—the privatization of welfare for young people 16 to 24 years old under the auspice and management of a public-private corporation, CAS, children’s aid society.
It also references the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is a controversial document created by a body of unelected officials to influence global national policies on social care. Care of Children in Welfare is also a document that is used to support the passing of Bill 88. Now the question is, why are we not creating our own policies, independent of the United Nations influence?
The children’s aid society will no doubt be awarded the management of overseeing the privatization of welfare for young people between the ages of 16 and 24 through Bill 88. Consider the controversies behind the many agencies of CAS to date—
Mr. Nicolas Stathopoulos: —that are reportedly acting without accountability and are void of transparency in the way that they perpetually conduct their cases, mostly against defenseless or low-income families. These are documented cases, one after another. In mainstream media, social networks, you name it, everything is very well documented as to their inability to function properly. What can then be expected to become of their role to manage this additional authority over the family unit or over people between the ages of 16 and 24 in the privatization of welfare?
I would also like to add that the University of Southampton in the UK, two and a half years ago, decided to scrap teaching the curriculum of social work in their university, citing that there is no credible evidence that social work is a viable discipline and—
Archbishop Dorian Baxter: Yes. My name is Dorian Baxter, and I am the Archbishop of the Federation of Independent Anglican Churches of North America. I was ordained here at St. James Cathedral by Archbishop Garnsworthy 30 years ago.
My main reason for being here is to state my very serious concerns about the possibility of this Bill 88 being passed. I first of all want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, and your standing committee for arranging for this get-together, because I think it’s very, very important.
I speak out of the crucible of personal suffering. Some 28 years ago, my children were subjected to horrendous behaviour by the Children’s Aid Society of Durham. I’m grateful to say that, after an 11-month battle, I was awarded sole custody, and I launched a massive lawsuit—unprecedented—against the Durham CAS.
Now, I should point out that, on the March 22, 1994, Justice Somers found that the Durham Children’s Aid Society in general, and one Marion Van den Boomen in particular, were guilty of the grossest negligence, the grossest incompetence, malicious prosecution and blackmail.
As a direct result of that, the social worker was given a slap on the wrist and transferred from Durham to London, where Ms. Van den Boomen continued to do 20-odd years of untold damage. She now has a pension, and the accountability was zero.
I mention this because the entire episode cost me a grand total of $387,000, from which I still reel today. But when I won that case, I had 130 people contact my lawyer, Mr. Donald J. Catalano, and they asked me to assist them, and I realized that there is such an unbelievable avalanche of bullying that goes on.
We all need a children’s aid society. But as you are aware, Mr. Chairman, and I’m sure the committee is aware, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. For many years, thousands of us have been calling on the province of Ontario to give power to the Ontario Ombudsman.
My fear and my concern—everything that I have alluded to is documented in the papers that I have submitted to Valerie. But I would like to say this: As I speak to you today, I am engaged in several cases—nine, to be exact—involving the children’s aid society, two of them involving the very society that I had the honour and the privilege of bringing to justice. My action shattered the immunity of the children’s aid society forever.
The trouble is, there is no accountability. And I will be candid with you, Mr. Chairman, and your committee.
Archbishop Dorian Baxter: Thank you. I’m very concerned that if, in fact, this bill passes, the very problems that we are encountering for young people from the age of zero to 16 will be multiplied phenomenally. Right now, you must be aware that police have a 27-page booklet that offers all kinds of resources. I’m sure that MPP Jackson—if he knew what I’m telling you and he would only take time to see this, he himself, I believe, would vote against this bill.
I think what we really need more than anything is accountability. We do not need to give any more power to an organization that has already shown that it needs desperately to be held accountable.
I would conclude my comments—I think you said I’ve got another 30 seconds—to simply thank you again. But I would say, please, give a sober second thought. Do not allow this bill to pass. It will usher in a Pandora’s Box of tyranny beyond human comprehension.
I am more than happy to speak to any member of the committee and show all the documentation that I’ve alluded to and more. I would just like to say thank you very much indeed for affording me the opportunity. It took me three hours to get here. Thank you for being so gracious. I do hope that you will pay serious attention to the written documentation as well.
Ms. Linda Plourde: Thank you so much. I’m going to try to make it very quick, because I have a very strong message to send, and I’m not a professional so I’m not a good speaker. However, I am here on behalf of the 719 children who have died in care in Ontario alone. Between 2006 and 2012, 719 children died under the supervision of children’s aid. Children’s aid is a corporation, privatized. They’re there for profit; they’re not there for the children.
I would like to show I have travelled Canada on my own. I don’t get paid. I travel Canada. I give tours. I went to Washington, DC. It’s a global crisis, what we have under children’s aid. They even have the audacity to say on their sign, the children’s aid, “Today’s children, tomorrow’s parents.” They are setting up our children.
This is what happened—and I want you to look at these children—before they go in to foster care, and after they are apprehended. I went to over a hundred funerals. I went and spoke to each and every single family—not to children’s aid; I go and talk to the parents. When they write to me—almost every month, some parent contacts me and says, “My child died. They died in foster care. They’re supposed to be protected.”
Children’s aid has to be abolished. It’s a business, and we, the adults—each and every one in this room, each one of you—are responsible for the deaths of these children because we’re not acting up. We’re not acting up. It’s our responsibility to help these children [inaudible] four months, six days after in care, she died.
Ms. Linda Plourde: So basically, what I’m saying—I have gone to Tim Hudak. I have gone to Andrea Horwath. I wrote thousands of letters. What I’m begging each and every one of you today is to please think about the children. No career is worth the life of a child—none.
Source: Ontario Hansard
Addendum: Vern Beck has issued an article Ontario’s Bill 88 must be scrapped (pdf).