Only 17% of inquest recommendations have been acted upon, says Hamilton Mountain MPP
By Gord Bowes, News staff
The province has an abysmal record when it comes to acting on recommendations that will save children’s lives, says Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor.
Failing to act on inquest recommendations means children and youth in the province’s care will continue to die, says Taylor.
Since 1995, there have been 26 inquests into the deaths of vulnerable children and youth living in custody, resulting in 1,635 recommendations.
“These recommendations were drafted with the sole purpose of protecting the lives of vulnerable children and preventing future deaths,” Taylor wrote in a letter to Laurel Broten, the Minister of Children and Youth Services.
“Yet today, only 17 per cent of these recommendations have been acted upon.”
Taylor said she wants to see changes in the provincial act which governs Irwin Elman, Ontario’s Advocate for Children and Youth. The advocate’s office, an independent arm of the legislature, was established in 2007.
Last week, Elman launched a new online database — the only one of its kind in Canada — that tracks inquest recommendations into the deaths of children in custody. But detailed information is not available because of limits placed on Elman, said Taylor.
While the deaths are part of the public record, Elman cannot speak about them in a way which identifies them unless he has their permission.
“These children are dead, so there’s no way of him getting that permission,” said said Taylor, who is the NDP’s children and youth services critic.
Ministry spokesperson Gloria Bacci-Puhl said the confidentiality provisions of the act were crafted in consultation with the Information and Privacy Commissioner to protect the privacy and legal rights of the child.
Elman’s office also does not receive non-redacted reports about the death of children under the province’s care.
“He’s completely handcuffed,” said Taylor, who is hopeful changes can be made to the act after the legislature resumes sitting.
“These are important changes that need to happen for him to truly protect the children.”
Taylor last year brought forward a bill that would give the Ontario Ombudsman oversight of the Children’s Aid system and be able to act on complaints about that arm’s length office of the province. That bill died on the order paper when Premier Dalton McGuinty prorogued parliament in October.
with files from the Toronto Star