By Gord Bowes, News staff
Having an independent office investigate complaints against children’s aid societies is a good start, but it may not go far enough, says MPP Monique Taylor.
The Wynne government announced this week it planned legislation which would allow the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth to investigate complaints.
The fine details of the proposed legislation are not known, but it seems that it will not handle complaints from families, only minors, said Taylor.
“If a family — parents — feel they are being let down by the system … they’re not going to be able to turn to the child’s advocate,” said the MPP for Hamilton Mountain. “There’s a big, huge gap there.”
Wynne and Government Services Minister John Milloy last week unveiled plans to allow the Ombudsman’s office to handle complaints about municipalities, universities and school boards. A new watchdog would be set up to handle complaints about hospitals, long-term care homes and community care access centres.
"There was a feeling that a sector-specific ombudsperson who could look into that whole range of issues, who would have the expertise to look into health-care issues was the way to go," said Milloy. "The same with the children's aid societies, to give it to an officer of parliament, the child advocate."
Two previous NDP bills in the last four years called for expanding the Ombudsman’s powers to oversee the so-called MUSH sector — municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals — but were voted down by the Liberals.
Twice in her short political career, Taylor has brought forward bills to give the Ontario Ombudsman oversight of children’s aid societies.
Taylor’s bill called for the Ombudsman’s office to have full investigative power to act on any complaint, whether from a child or parent.
Her first bill passed second reading on Oct. 4, 2012 but died when the legislature was prorogued 11 days later. She reintroduced the bill on March 27, 2013 and it passed second reading two weeks later, but it has languished in committee since then with no plans from the governing Liberals to bring it to the House for a vote.
“It’s been sitting there, they refuse to let it come back,” Taylor said.