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Monday, April 08, 2013

The Push continues to give Ombudsman power to investigate the Children's Aid Society in Ontario



The proroguing of the Ontario legislature last fall hasn't stopped the push to give Ontario's Ombudsman the power to investigate complaints about children's aid societies across the province.
Late last September, Chris Carter, a member of Canada Court Watch, collected nearly 1,200 local signatures on a petition supporting then Bill 110, which was introduced by Hamilton NDP MPP Monique Taylor, to amend the Ombudsman Act to allow for public complaints about a CAS to be investigated.
Carter, who has been the community for several months acting as an advocate for local families, said the bill died when the Ontario government was prorogued last October after Dalton McGuinty resigned as premier.
But Taylor has brought the issue back to Queen's Park under Bill 42, Ombudsman Amendment Act (Children's Aid Societies), 2013, which recently passed first reading.
“I knew it was coming back,” Carter said. “There is just way too much pressure.”
The bill up receive second reading on Thursday.
Some high profile cases of children suffering abuse while in the care of the child welfare system has prompted new calls to allow the Ombudsman's office to investigate CAS complaints.
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin told the QMI Agency last month he receives 500 complaints a year from people asking him to take up their issues with the CAS.
However, at this time the ombudsman doesn't have the power to investigate the so-called MUSH sector, which includes municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, along with the CAS and long-term care homes.
Marin's top-10 most significant developments in 2012, posted on the Ontario Ombudsman's website at the end of December, listed being closer to investigating the MUSH sector as the top development.
The Ombudsman has said he would like to see Children’s Aid Societies, hospitals and long-term care homes as the first ‘letters’ to be brought under his jurisdiction.
Carter has collected more than 200 signatures on a new petition he has been circulating in the community.
If Bill 42 passes, Carter said with all the allegations of physical and sexual abuse that have been levelled against various branches of the CAS over the year, he would like to see an inquiry similar to what was done for the residential school scandal.
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