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Sunday, June 25, 2006


Dalton McGuinty
Premier of Ontario
Legistlative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1

Jack Layton
1506 Danforth Ave.
Toronto, ON M4J 1N4

Andrea Horwath
MPP Hamilton East
720 Main Street East
Hamilton, ON M4Y 1C6

Andre Marin
Ombudsman of Ontario
Bell Trinity Square
10th Floor, South Tower
Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

Mary Anne Chambers
Minister of Children and Youth Services
56 Wellesley Street West, 14th Floor
Toronto, ON M4S 2S3

Mary McConville
Executive Director
Catholic Children’s Aid Society
26 Maitland Street
Toronto, Ontario
M4Y 1C6

Jeanette Lewis
Executive Director
Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies
75 Front Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto, Ontario
M5E 1V9


1 – 200 of 216   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

If you only have 2 stamps, go for Dalton and Mary Ann. The others are spoken for.

Anonymous said...

Any news about placing Jeffrey's plaque in Greenwood Park?

Jeffrey's Law said...

Not until probably late July...will keep you posted! And yeah, don't bother with Mary Mc Con vile!

Anonymous said...

There are contries in the world where the CAS workers would be publicly stoned for lying by the local community. I am ashemed for Canadians.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone so quiet suddenly? C'mon say something, would yeah?!?

Anonymous said...

Trivial pursuits: Marin's cross to bear
The Windsor Star
Fri 30 Jun 2006
Page: A8
Section: Editorial/Opinion
Source: Windsor Star
After just a year in office, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has shown himself to be far more willing to rock the boat of government than his predecessors. In particular, Marin's extensive investigation into soaring property assessments in Ontario has forced the province to take a hard look at a system that his office found to be an elitist operation with "questionable practices"

As a result, Finance Minister Greg Sorbara announced Thursday that property tax reassessments conducted by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation would be cancelled for the next two years to allow for the implementation of the ombudsman's recommendations to fix the system.

For hardpressed Ontario taxpayers, this is a significant victory -- and they can give full thanks to the ombudsman.

Now Marin has told the Dalton McGuinty government he's tired of dealing with trivial complaints that fall under the umbrella of his office. Instead, Marin wants to use his resources to investigate more substantial issues.

In particular, Marin wants a chance to deal with the complaints landing on his desk -- 1,850 last year -- dealing with children's aid societies, municipalities, boards of education, universities, hospitals and long-term care facilities. Although these organizations receive about 80 per cent of all tax revenue, they are not subject to the ombudsman's scrutiny.

"These complaints represent only the tip of the iceberg, I suspect," said Marin. "It is not rational to keep this office from using its tools and expertise to deal with such complaints. Other Canadian ombudsmen have more authority to deal with these areas. Ontario, however, continues to sit at the back of the oversight pack."

Incredibly, almost 4,800 of the 24,000 complaints received by Marin's office last year came from inmates in provincial detention centres, and most of those gripes were "trivial."

"I'm not interested in complaints about brown lettuce and cold food," Marin said after releasing his annual report last week. Other jailhouse complaints came from an inmate who said nobody was making an effort to find his lost sunglasses, and from another who couldn't get his hair cut before a court appearance.

"We've informed the ministry (of correctional services) that they need to set up their own complaints resolution process," said Marin, pointing out every time an inmate has a complaint, they are given his toll-free number.

So far, however, Marin is only getting a promise of "very careful consideration" from the premier, and little more than dismissal from Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter.

Kwinter said he understands Marin's concern over the huge number of jail complaints, "but that's what happens when you are in corrections."

However, since the ombudsman's job is to ensure accountability through the effective oversight of the administration of government services in the province, Marin's request for more latitude would seem to be a better use of his $9.5-million budget.

"At present our office's jurisdiction is confined to government organizations, even though much of what government does and pays for is carried out by different bodies acting as government agents," said Marin.

"This limitation on our jurisdiction makes no sense. There is simply no merit in arbitrarily limited access to our inexpensive, informal and effective methods of problem solving."

If the Liberals refuse to expand Marin's mandate, some might conclude they would rather have him tied up investigating bad food than bad government.

Anonymous said...

It is quite obvious that the Liberals know there is a problem with the CAS. They simply don't want to deal with it. Isn't it pitiful that they seem more concerned with the emblem of Ontario then the safety of children? Isn't it pitiful that they refuse to deal with the CAS even after Jeffrey. If the government does not want the CAS to be responsible then they need to stop funding them period.

Give child abuse cases to police and criminal courts and close the CAS agencies. On one hand these agencies claim to be experts, and on the other REFUSE to be accountable. They can't have it both ways and they shouldn't when it comes to children.

Maybe the Liberals fear that the Ombudsman will say that the CAS agencies have huge systematic problems. God forbid that he might actually table solutions to the mess. No in the Liberal government they don't care. It isn't enough that a child was tortured and killed. It isn't enough that his three siblings will suffer an ongoing trauma. Not enough that Mike Davis wants a public inquiry along with others - and not enough that an inquiry is being launched by the Ontario coroner?

They need to be kicked out of office if they continue to refuse CAS accountability. Future Jeffrey's will be on their heads, blood will be on their hands.

Anonymous said...

The government is terrified of André Marin and the previous poster is right on all counts. These agencies should be scrapped.

Anonymous said...

[ Click to print | Close window ]

The following article is located at:

Two Views on Euthanasia
Even those who do not take a biblical perspective on euthanasia can make a good case against, says Dr. Margaret Somerville.

Legalized Euthanasia Would Destroy Society's Basic Values and Beliefs
by Margaret A. Somerville

The two major reasons against euthanasia and assisted suicide are, first, that it is wrong for one human to intentionally kill another, except in self-defence. And, second, that the harms and risks of legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide far outweigh any benefits. (I use the word euthanasia to include assisted suicide.)

The case for euthanasia is easily made by focusing on heart-wrenching individual cases …

When our values were based on a shared religion, the case against euthanasia was simple: God's command was "thou shalt not kill." In a secular society based on intense individualism, the case for euthanasia is simple: Individuals have the right to choose the manner, time and place of their death. But, in such societies the case against euthanasia is complex.

The case for euthanasia is easily made by focusing on heart-wrenching individual cases of very difficult deaths that make dramatic and compelling TV footage. The case against euthanasia is much more difficult to present because it depends on harm to some of our most important societal values, to the important institutions of medicine and law, and to present and future generations and societies.

Euthanasia is intentionally killing another person to relieve their suffering. It is not the withdrawal or withholding of treatment that results in death, or necessary pain- and symptom-relief treatment that might shorten life, if that is the only effective treatment.

Euthanasia is not, as euthanasia advocates argue, just another option at the end of a continuum of good palliative care treatment. It is different in kind from them. To legalize euthanasia would damage important societal values and symbols that uphold respect for human life. If euthanasia is involved, how we die cannot be just a private matter of self-determination and personal beliefs, because it involves other persons and society's approval of their actions. It overturns the prohibition on intentional killing, which the British House of Lords called "the cornerstone of law and human relationships, emphasizing our basic equality."

Medicine and the law are the principal institutions involved in legalizing euthanasia. In a secular, pluralistic society they are responsible for maintaining the value of and respect for human life. Euthanasia would seriously damage their capacity to do so. Paradoxically, their responsibility is much more important in a secular society than a religious one, because they are the "only game in town."

To legalize euthanasia would fundamentally change the way we understand ourselves, human life and its meaning. We create our values and find meaning in life by buying into a "shared story"—a societal-cultural paradigm. Humans have always focused that story on the two great events of every person's life, birth and death. In a secular society—even more than in a religious one—that story must encompass and protect the "human spirit." By the human spirit, I do not mean anything religious. Rather, I mean the intangible, invisible, immeasurable reality that we need to find meaning in life and to make life worth living—that deeply intuitive sense of relatedness or connectedness to all life, especially other people, the world, and the universe in which we live.

There are two views of human life and, as a consequence, of death. One is that we are simply "gene machines." In the words of an Australian politician, when we are past our "best before" or "use by" date, we should be checked out as quickly, cheaply and efficiently as possible. That view favours euthanasia. The other view sees a mystery in human death, because it sees a mystery in human life, a view that does not require any belief in the supernatural.

Euthanasia converts the mystery of death to the problem of death, to which we then seek a technological solution. A lethal injection is a very efficient, fast solution to the problem of death—but it is antithetical to the mystery of death. People in post-modern societies are uncomfortable with mystery, especially mysteries that generate intense, free-floating anxiety and fear, as death does.

The combination of an aging population, scarce health-care resources, and euthanasia would, indeed, be a lethal one.

Yet another objection to legalizing euthanasia is that abuse cannot be prevented, as recent reports from the Netherlands show. And they show that once euthanasia is legalized, its availability expands. Originally, euthanasia was only available to dying adults with unrelievable suffering who were competent to give informed consent and repeatedly requested euthanasia. Very recently the Groningen protocol has extended its availability to include disabled newborn babies.

To assess the impact that legalizing euthanasia might have, in practice, on society, we must look at it in the context in which it would operate: The combination of an aging population, scarce health-care resources, and euthanasia would, indeed, be a lethal one.

Euthanasia advocates often argue, in support of legalizing it, that physicians are secretly carrying it out anyway. But, even if that were true, it does not mean that it is right. Further, if physicians were currently ignoring the law against murder, why would they obey laws governing euthanasia? Physicians' absolute repugnance to killing people is necessary to maintaining people's and society's trust in them. This is true, in part, because physicians have opportunities to kill that are not open to other people. Experience in both the Netherlands and Australia (euthanasia was briefly legalized in Australia's Northern Territory in 1997) show that people stay away from doctors and hospitals because of fear of euthanasia. A serious public health problem arose in Australia's aboriginal community because parents refused to have their children immunized.

And how would legalizing euthanasia affect medical and nursing education? What impact would physician role models carrying out euthanasia have on students and young health-care professionals? Would we devote time to teaching students how to administer death through lethal injection? (In the Netherlands a patient who was administered euthanasia but did not die, sued his doctor for medical malpractice.) It would be very difficult to communicate a repugnance to killing in a context of legalized euthanasia.

Health-care professionals need a clear line that powerfully proves to them, their patients, and society that they do not inflict death; both their patients and the public need to know with absolute certainty—and be able to trust—that this is the case. Anything that would blur the line, damage that trust, or make them less sensitive to their primary obligations to protect life is unacceptable. Legalizing euthanasia would do all of these things.

Euthanasia is a simplistic and dangerous response to the complex reality of human death. Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia involve taking people who are at their weakest and most vulnerable, who fear loss of control or isolation and abandonment—who are in a state of intense "pre-mortem loneliness"—and placing them in a situation where they believe their only alternative is to be killed or kill themselves.

How a society treats its weakest, its most in need, its most vulnerable members tests its moral and ethical tone. To set a present and future moral tone that protects individuals in general and society, upholds the fundamental value of respect for life, and promotes rather than destroys our capacities and opportunities to search for meaning in life, we must reject euthanasia.

Margaret A. Somerville is the Samuel Gale Professor of Law, and a professor in the faculty of medicine, McGill University Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law.

Death Talk: The Case Against Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
by Margaret A Somerville
A reasoned, passionate, and wide-ranging enquiry into the euthanasia debate and its consequences for individuals and society.

Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press, May 7 2006.

The following counter argument to Dr. Margaret Somerville's article also appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Let's Use Common Sense in Cases of Mercy Killing
by Prof. Arthur Schafer

Tony Jaworski's wife, Sophie, was dying of colon cancer. At the same time, she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He killed her—stabbed her to death with a knife—to spare her further suffering.

The Crown could have exercised its discretion to charge Mr. Jaworski with manslaughter …

For this crime, Manitoba's Justice Department was determined to send Tony Jaworski to jail for life. Neither Mr. Jaworski's motive for killing (mercy), nor his age (87) and ill health (cancer, blindness, partial deafness) softened their passion for severe punishment. The Crown could have exercised its discretion to charge Mr. Jaworski with manslaughter, which gives the court discretion to tailor the punishment to fit the circumstances of the crime. Instead, they insisted on charging him with the crime of murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.

Public pressure eventually forced the Crown to reduce the charge against Mr. Jaworski to manslaughter, and an enlightened judge recently sentenced him to time already served.

In an earlier Manitoba case, that of Bert Doerksen, the Crown was similarly determined to obtain a criminal conviction and jail term. Bert Doerksen, 79, was charged with assisting his wife to take her own life. Susan Doerksen, 78, had been suffering for years from cancer, heart disease and crippling arthritic pain. She chose death over unremitting pain; and her loving husband of 59 years chose to assist her. There was great public sympathy for Mr. Doerksen and charges against him were eventually dropped, but only after his own cancer advanced so far that he became unfit to stand trial. By that time, the Doerksen family had suffered an unconscionable burden, both emotional and financial.

What accounts for the Manitoba Crown's determination to imprison these two sick old men, both of whom acted from the desire to end the suffering of their beloved spouses?

Some historical background may help. Over the decades, there have been a number of mercy killings and assisted suicides in Canada. Only a dozen or so have come to court. Of this dozen, none has resulted in a jail term—with the notable and tragic exception of Robert Latimer. In short, elsewhere in Canada, when the motive for killing or assisted suicide is clearly merciful, juries either ignore the law by voting to acquit or the Crown exercises its discretion to reduce the charge from murder to some lesser offence, such as manslaughter or administering a noxious substance. Conviction on these lesser charges has never led to imprisonment. In some provinces, the Crown has enough wisdom and humanity not to bring a criminal charge. So, for example, the doctor who bravely assisted Sue Rodriguez to die was never prosecuted. The attorney general of British Columbia understood full well that no jury would ever have convicted this physician, so it would have been foolish to charge him.

Let's explore for a moment the reasons why Manitoba's Justice Department is so determined to imprison loving husbands such as Tony Jaworski and Bert Doerksen.

One rationale for stern punishment is individual deterrence: preventing the criminal from repeating his or her crime. However, in cases such as these it seems absurd to suppose that the public is in need of protection. As Queen's Bench Justice John Scurfield commented, ironically, a sentence is needed which "adequately protects the public from an 87-year-old blind man who is infirm."

Should they have been punished, instead, on retributive grounds? The vicious deserve to suffer, sure enough. But who could fail to understand the love and empathy that motivated these "killers"? Was either truly deserving of a severe punishment?

Alternatively, imprisonment might be justified on grounds of denunciation: the need to express society's abhorrence for heinous crimes. This rationale applies poorly to cases of genuine mercy killing, however, where a majority of Canadians express the view that "if I were ever dying in unrelievable pain I hope that someone would hasten my death."

Family members clearly cannot be allowed unfettered discretion to kill loved ones …

The most plausible argument for punishing mercy killers would have to be general deterrence. Our old friend the slippery slope argument makes its appearance here: If we don't punish severely the Jaworskis and Doerksens of the world, the floodgates will be opened and the sick and disabled of our society will be vulnerable to lethal assault.

It sounds plausible in theory. In reality, it just isn't true. Canada has almost never punished mercy killers with imprisonment, and yet the predicted flood of merciless killings hasn't materialized. Canadian judges and juries are quite capable of distinguishing those who kill from greed or hatred, on the one hand, from those who kill from love or mercy, on the other.

Canadian law relating to mercy killing and assisted suicide is in need of reform. Family members clearly cannot be allowed unfettered discretion to kill loved ones who are suffering; but Canadians should now be thinking seriously about the kinds of carefully regulated law reforms that have been introduced in the state of Oregon (physician-assisted suicide) and in Holland (euthanasia). Meanwhile, until Canadian law is reformed, it makes no legal and even less moral sense for the Crown to exercise its discretion harshly against mercy killers or those who help their loved ones to end their own life when that life is blighted by unrelievable pain and suffering.

A personal comment to conclude. I have lectured to dozens of senior citizen groups on the topic of death and dying. Over coffee and biscuits, hundreds of old people have discussed their concerns with me. These concerns focus on the pain, suffering and indignity that often blight the last stages of life. Old people fear dying in hospital, surrounded by rotating teams of anonymous strangers, intubated from every orifice, unable to feed or toilet themselves. They fear that cancer or stroke or Alzheimer's disease will drastically reduce the quality of their lives.

But, significantly, not a single older person has ever expressed to me a fear that when they are suffering with a painful terminal illness someone might have a mind to end their life prematurely. Indeed, many have expressed the wish for assistance to hasten their death if the quality of their life becomes more burdensome than beneficial.

Prof. Arthur Schafer is Director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba.

Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press, May 7 2006.

Used with permission of author. Copyright © 2006

Copyright © 2003 The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, All Rights Reserved.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget Jeffrey.
Please send a letter today - even just one! It will make a difference! Do it for Jeffrey and all the other Jeffreys suffering right now and in the future unless something is done!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely he deserves justice, attention, and real change in his memory.

A sweet, innocent little boy - be there when it counts, at a time where it is too late - to prevent this from happening again.


Anonymous said...

The CAS and CCAS need a great deal more then over sight, and so do the school boards and hospitals, keep writing, and write your news papers, letters to the editor. dont let this die , thats what they are counting on.

Go see the pain in the family courts, its not something you will forget, go speak to the children in care in schools, again the pain they feel is tragic, I dont know that there are enough drugs to numb it all for them, but that does not mean they are not trying to keep us from knowing the children in care want to JUST GO HOME, and in 99 percent of the cases they should. Is this why Ham. is building its own little city to cage the children, school medical and dental all in one building is that a NORMAL childs LIFE!!!!!. what about the childrens peer groups? there rights to social life. There rights to be with people that they love and love them, there own familys. Yes Business is good they brag, hard to understand how they do that, the buis they are after all referring to is suppose to be abused and neglegted children. Takes my breath away to hear CAS folks, beeming with joy about how good buisness is. whay does this government have to say to that?

Anonymous said...

New Brunswick CAS just like ours - COVERING ASS!

Opposition MLA wants public inquiry into death of two-year-old N.B. girl; Minister says government plans reform of child protection services
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Tue 11 Jul 2006
Page: A1
Section: NEWS
Byline: By Shannon Hagerman Telegraph-Journal
An Opposition MLA is demanding a public inquiry into the tragic death of a Canterbury-area toddler two years ago.

Dr. Ed Doherty says allegations provincial child welfare officials were warned the two-year-old was at risk before her 2004 death should spark an investigation.

Dr. Doherty says the "disturbing" death of Juli-Anna St. Peter should prompt an immediate investigation by New Brunswick's Child Death Review Committee, along with an independent review of the province's child protection system.

"This child has fallen through the cracks because our system either wasn't tight enough, because it wasn't efficient enough, or it was under-funded," he said. "I felt as an elected member somewhat responsible to make sure "... hopefully, a situation like this, can be avoided (from happening) again."

It has been more than two years since Juli-Anna perished, for reasons that remain shrouded in secrecy.

Family members have revealed the child was severely dehydrated and died of a ruptured bowel and subsequent infection.

The child's mother and her former boyfriend have been charged with criminal negligence causing death for failing to provide medical assistance.

They are expected back in court in October.

There are suggestions the child's April 13, 2004 death could have been prevented by child welfare officials.

Court documents allege officials in the Department of Family and Community Services had been alerted to suspicions of "neglect (and) lack of supervision" inside Juli-Anna's home, on four separate occasions, just a month before her death.

Ombudsman Bernard Richard filed the documents with the Court of Queens Bench. He's seeking a court order to gain access to records his office has been denied by the province's child welfare agency.

There have been no recommendations about the child's death from the province's Child Death Review Committee, which is supposed to investigate the deaths of all children under the province's care and supervision.

The ongoing court case has delayed the group's recommendations.

Dr. Doherty says further delays can't be tolerated.

"There is a pattern of reoccurrence to these (cases) and if there's any way we can stop this horrific (pattern) we must do it," he said. "If we want for the full judicial process to take its natural course, then God forbid, there might be another incident to come up that could have been prevented."

"If they can't (do it) "... then they should recommend someone who can."

Dr. Doherty said officials should also be fully co-operating with Mr. Richard's six-month investigation. The ombudsman has asked the Court of Queens Bench to fully co-operate with this investigation and release various case files.

The province and the ombudsman will appear in court next month.

Dr. Doherty says officials should go a step further by ordering an immediate review into the child protection system in New Brunswick to make sure social workers, who have complained of job burnout, are adequately equipped to handle their caseloads.

He is calling for a report to the minister within six weeks.

The Saint John Harbour MLA said the child's death should be another wake-up call that leads to improvements to New Brunswick's social safety net.

"There is something that isn't right," he said.

Family and Community Services Minister Madeleine Dubé refused to discuss specifics of Juli-Anna's case on Monday. The minister also won't discuss the ombudsman's ongoing court action to force her department to comply with his investigation.

However, Ms. Dubé said officials must abide by court orders and confidentiality restrictions.

"We do collaborate. We do share the information, when we are allowed to in terms of confidentiality, but in some instances where all the information is sealed, we cannot," she said.

The ombudsman is asking Ms. Dubé's department to provide details about a pediatrician's telephone call to the department a month before Juli-Anna died.

The physician "expressed concerns of possible neglect", Mr. Richard's court application states.

Ms. Dubé also declined Monday to give a firm guarantee there will be public recommendations from the child death review committee before the end of the summer.

However, the provincial government is pressing ahead with its own plans to reform the way child protection services are delivered in New Brunswick.

The new model, which is still under development, would help child protection workers respond "more quickly" to allegations of neglect and child abuse, the minister said.

Ms. Dubé, who is a former child protection worker, said the new model should also allow child protection workers to be more "proactive" to assist troubled families before they find themselves in crisis.

"I cannot necessarily give you all the details right away, because we are still working on it and we are moving ahead and we are very excited about it, my department is very committed to improve the services," she said.

Both Mr. Richard and Dr. Doherty are calling for a child and youth advocate to be appointed to act as a watchdog over the province's child protection system.

The province, which opened the position to competition in January, is now interviewing candidates for the job.

Judy Finlay, Ontario's child advocate, said about 60 per cent of her office's investigations stem from children, who are under the care of the minister, who alert her office their needs are not being met.

The office also gets calls from teachers, police officers and members of the public who feel their warnings to child protection officials have gone unheeded.

Ms. Finlay says besides intervening in specific cases, advocates also serve as "watchdogs" to prevent systematic problems.

Ms. Finlay, who is president of the council of child advocates in Canada, says officials are eagerly awaiting New Brunswick's appointment.

"We are certainly waiting and hoping New Brunswick comes on line," she said. "When there is a death like this, there are usually new calls for an advocate to come into place."

Anonymous said...

We need more people like Erika! Bravo!

Ombud's efforts applauded
Metroland - York Division
Thu 06 Jul 2006
Page: 01
Section: Newmarket/Aurora Era-Banner - News
Column: A
Re: Ontario ombud wants more power, June 24.
I sincerely applaud the efforts of Ontario Ombud Andre Marin for advocating on behalf of the province's most needy.
Here in Canada, we take so many freedoms and rights for granted we assume agencies such as school boards and Children's Aid Societies are near perfect.
The public refuses to believe abuse of power exists and that families are always treated fairly.
The Children's Aid Society, in particular, regulates itself and clients must complain through the agency that is investigating them.
Any public system funded by millions of our tax dollars should be subject to independent and impartial reviews, checks and balances.
Mr. Marin isn't asking for anything more than to simply answer the hundreds of complaints he receives every month.
Until you've lost a child or have had your rights trampled on, you'll never quite know just how important the ombud's job truly is.
I hope the province is listening and brings accountability to the services of the public sector.

Anonymous said...

Good for Erika - it is an excellent letter!!

Anonymous said...

Private ombuds need teeth, Marin says
The Toronto Star
Wed 12 Jul 2006
Page: F5
Section: Business
Ontario's Watchdog. That slogan is the first thing you see when you get off the elevator at the office of the provincial ombudsman, Andre Marin.

In the 14 months he's held the job, he has breathed new life into a complaints handling service on the verge of extinction.

"We started with a bang in 1975," he says, "but we'd been under the radar screen for many years. When I was appointed, I heard that the government was contemplating shutting down the office."

A lawyer, Marin came to the job with 10 years of experience acting as ombudsman for complaints against the police and the military service.

He made a big splash with his report on the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., the bureaucracy that annually assesses 4.4 million Ontario properties valued at $1.1 trillion.

That led to a decision by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to freeze property tax assessments for the next two years.

In a later report, Losing the Waiting Game, he showed how the government took an average of eight months to approve applications for disability support - but limited retroactive payments of benefits to four months.

The government has stopped enforcing the four-month rule, but hasn't agreed to pay restitution to those caught up in it.

Marin sees his role as "humanizing government when it has become too rigid, too bureaucratic, too wooden or too insensitive to represent the people of Ontario well."

The message comes through loud and clear in his annual report, released last month, which contains case studies of people his office has helped.

Take the woman who was pursued by a collection agency 13 years after she was overpaid $1,700 under the Ontario Student Assistance Program. According to the rules, she had to prove her claim that the debt had been repaid.

The ombudsman's office said it was fanciful to think she would have kept records for that long. Even the bank's records had been destroyed after 10 years. And the delay in following up was the province's own.

The ministry of colleges and universities agreed to cancel the debt and call off the collection agency.

I wanted to hear Marin's thought about the proliferation of the private-sector ombudsman.

All the big banks have an ombudsman. Enbridge Gas Distribution has an ombudsman. Air Canada had one for a while.

How can someone be fair, objective, impartial and free of conflicts while paid by a company? When does a watchdog turn into a lapdog?

"It's an unregulated profession," he says. "Zap, you're an ombudsman."

Companies set up an office of the ombudsman to appear accountable and open. They know there's a public appetite for oversight.

But they tend to pick the wrong people for the job - either junior employees on the way up or senior employees on the way out.

The ombudsman becomes a cheerleader, trying to stay on good terms with workplace contacts.

"They're set up to placate, to cut off problems before they develop," Marin says.

"I don't want to send a message that they don't have value and they're not staffed by good people. They have value as an additional recourse for consumers.

"Just don't call them an ombudsman."

The problem with private-sector solutions No oversight or safeguards, no guarantees of independence or impartiality.

When firms set their own rules for how an ombudsman operates, the results are wildly inconsistent. And consumers are naturally suspicious of what kind of justice they will get.

So, what's the answer?

The International Standards Organization has drafted a new standard on external dispute resolution (ISO 10003), which can help companies and industry groups monitor their own performance.

The industry-level Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments plans to adopt this standard when it's completed.

Marin prefers government regulation. In New Zealand, a private sector ombudsman has to meet criteria that are established in legislation - and can operate only after gaining the approval of the Parliamentary ombudsman.

Here's Marin's formula for a credible company ombudsman

The status and salary of a senior person, such as a vice-president.

A fixed term in the job and the ability to report directly to the board of directors.

The power to conduct in-depth investigations and publish reports that are not vetted by the corporation.

A rule that says employees will be fired if they don't co-operate with the ombudsman.

"Don't let people act as mouthpieces for the company and call them an ombudsman," Marin says. "That's why there are so few complaints. Consumers don't go forward with their cases because they don't trust the system."

© 2006 Torstar Corporation

Anonymous said...

Andre Marin is the best Ombudsman that Ontario has ever had. Unlike the IPC WHO MANY WANT KICKED OUT OF.

Marin is solid, and that is what shakes the Liberals, it is what makes John Tory invisible in this as he doesn't have the guts for him, and this is what makes the NDP make a small step forward. They are supportive of him, and they should be.

WHO IN GOVERNMENT ST0OD UP FOR JEFFREY? The NDP did really - and so did the Ombudsman.

The others are cowards of CAS accountability - they don't care about children this is about business deals.

Andre Marin stood up for Jeffrey, and at no political game. That is commendable, that is honest which is much better then the politicians in their games all along. The man is not a puppet on a string to be pulled by McGuinty. He stood up for the little boy in which this blog is about - that counts in this mess.

Anonymous said...

Andre Marin is not the issue but the dear old IPC is a HUGE ISSUE. Kick her out, if we had a vote she would be gone. The Star has tried to cast doubt on Mr. Marin but IT IS THE IPC THAT IS THE PROBLEM - SHE HAS NO ACCOUNTABILITY PERIOD.

One can understand the scrutiny of tax payers but really Star get your facts straight and stop supporting the IPC. The Ombudsman and the IPC ARE DAY AND NIGHT - The Ombudsman is FOR THE PEOPLE, AND IPC IS A CHANNEL OF BIG BROTHER AND A MOUTHPIECE FOR TORY AND CO.

Anonymous said...


They never have, they are part of the machine, as many of them bought babies "privately".

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Did you win this time? Toronto CCAS an agency that has sold children for years - a union agency where workers accounce "we will win when babies die".

Dirty rotten bastards - evil pukes.

Anonymous said...

Stay focussed on facts and logic lest you will discredit this forum as populated by freaks and nutbars.

Anonymous said...


PROVINCE FOSTERING CHILD ABUSE - UNION; Child welfare staff castigates government over inaction
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Sat 15 Jul 2006
Page: A1
Section: NEWS
Byline: By Shannon Hagerman Telegraph-Journal
Unionized child welfare workers in New Brunswick cautioned government officials earlier this year that delays in hiring new social workers were putting children in peril.

The February 2006 memo, given to a Conservative cabinet minister, warned that lack of resources and inadequate staffing "exacerbate the pain and suffering of children and their families."

The blunt memo, obtained by the Telegraph-Journal, noted that only 43 new child protection workers have been hired since 1999, even though a government report recommended hiring 143 more child welfare workers.

"This is an injustice to our members, and a travesty to families - particularly children - our most vulnerable in society," it says. "By the Province of New Brunswick continuing to ignore the report's recommendations, the Province of New Brunswick is facilitating the abuse and neglect of children. "

The memo was addressed to Joan MacAlpine-Stiles, then the minister responsible for Family and Community Services.

The memo was prepared by Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1418 and urged the government to hire 95 more social workers this year.

"By not providing the additional resources necessary, government allows that child to be subjected to further abuse; and those parents to continue to adopt dysfunctional parenting styles in lieu of learning healthier, safer parenting skills," the report states.

There's now renewed calls for systematic reforms after the tragic death of a Canterbury toddler has sparked an investigation by Ombudsman Bernard Richard.

The Opposition Liberals are calling for a public inquiry into the little girl's death and an immediate investigation by the province's Child Death Review Committee.

Juli-Anna St. Peter died in April 2004.

Police have never revealed how the child died, but family members have revealed she was severely dehydrated and had succumbed after a ruptured bowel and subsequent infection.

The child's mother and her former common-law partner have been charged with criminal negligence causing death. They will appear in court in October.

There are now suggestions child welfare officials were altered to the child's plight before she died.

Court documents allege officials in the Department of Family and Community Services had been altered to suspicions of "neglect (and) lack of supervision" inside the child's home, on four separate occasions, just a month before her death.

Mr. Richard, who filed the court documents in the Court of Queens Bench, is also seeking details about a pediatrician's telephone call to the department a month before the girl died in which the doctor expressed "concerns of possible neglect."

The Department of Family and Community Services has denied the ombudsman's request for information, citing confidentiality constraints and the fact some records have been sealed by the court.

Anne Hogan, president of CUPE Local 1418, says she was angered to learn about Juli-Anna's death after a series of child-abuse scandals in the 1990's shook public confidence in the child protection system.

"I am angry that we have another death. I am really angry. I am angry that nobody in government is taking note. And that little girl, that just breaks my heart. I didn't even know. Two years and I didn't even know," said Ms. Hogan, who has put Juli-Anna's picture on her wall.

"You look at that little girl's eyes"...That says everything to me, how sad. She's given up that little girl."

Ms. Hogan, who was a child protection worker for 18 years, said the union has been trying to get the provincial government to heed their warnings about the overburdened child protection system since 1998, but little has changed.

"The last meeting that I left, my spirits were really on the floor," she said. "I thought, they really don't care."

Ms. Hogan says administrative tasks, like inputting data into computers and preparing court affidavits, are gobbling up too much time that social workers should be spending with their clients.

Many social workers only have time to respond to "high-risk" cases, while low- to-moderate risks abuse allegations must be put on hold, she said.

"Basically what we are telling them is we aren't opening anything that isn't high risk, so it is absolutely zero prevention being done. That's an injustice, " she said.

Family and Community Services Minister Madeleine Dube has promised the government will respond before the end of this year with a new child protection "model" that will help social workers react faster to allegations of abuse and neglect.

She's also promised the new model will help social workers work more closely with families they are assigned and put in place "proactive" programs to prevent major problems from developing.

Ms. Dube has stated the new model will soon be presented to the provincial cabinet.

The minister says her office will consult with "stakeholders" including social workers themselves about the new system before it is publicly revealed.

Anonymous said...

On this blog the only possible nutbar or freak have been those who have defended the Toronto CCAS and the CAS in general. In the last article posted here they as in the workers consider child abuse to be an issue for "stakeholders". Now how perverse and manipulative is it when this is seen as a stakeholder issue for social workers? Children being abused are the true stakeholders not union social workers and their merry band wagon of power, corruption and unchecked tyranny. The last article attests to some of the problems. Social workers should not have the power of a union behind them when they screw up. This explains why the worker responsible for Jeffrey is still at the Toronto CCAS. A union has made the workers so called "rights" more relevant then the outcome of this horrible tragedy. If one is responsible for a child death they should be fired immediately - but not so to these so called "stakeholders" who want it all - power, money and no responsibility what so ever. They have more rights then children do -isn't there something wrong with that picture?

The union issue is also why arrogant, half-witted social workeres can be transferred to other agencies despite their poor track records, various complaints and destruction of lives. No problem we'll just ship them elsewhere much in the same way that they simply remove pervert priests from one jurisdiction to another, and all the while avoiding the crux of the issue - accountability.

Until all workers in that system are held responsible nothing will change. Not just in Ontario but in all of Canada.

The so called stakeholders are the problem for it is they that do not want responsibility in the system itself. When a tragedy occurs they want more money, more power, and more glorification. Quite insain really all of it. At the bottom of the heap remain the children and families affected. At the top - the top heavy system of workers who have it all. Until these so called "stakeholders" demand accountability for themselves and their peers then what they say is merely a guise - more babble, more spinning of the crux of the issue.

What other profession refuses to want to be responsible?

Anonymous said...

In addition the so called confidentiality issue is and has always been a red herring. The term is at best a confusing, contorted guise to protect the industry from the truth, responsibility and accountability. It is almost always the CAS that have the most to hide - not anyone else. The confidentiality crap is a weapon to keep the secrecy, deceit and lies of these agencies well in place. If people cannot see their own files WHICH THEY CAN'T from the CAS then I think it says it all.

Look at the case of John Dunn - a man that was in Toronto CCAS care for years. Now is the confidentiality argument protecting John really when they refuse to let him see his own file - absolutely not - it is about protecting the agency from litigation. This is how the system operates. The threat to the union social workers is more important then the truth, the threat of any litigation is more important then the individual right to their own truth and life, and the threat to the system is responsibility.

The OACAS draft proposal to the government written by the former Toronto CCAS chief legal counsel was virtually adopted into a bill. It was this section that created section 68 of Bill 210 - thus making the CAS agencies totally unaccountable to anyone. Hidden in legal clauses is a plain message - THEY DON'T WANT TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. I don't recall voting for a Toronto CCAS lawyer in the last election, or voting for the power of that agency to make a law protecting their workers further.

The government does not want them to be accountable either as legally they will be responsible when failures occur - they fund these agencies. The irrational, and total refusal to make the CAS responsible boils down to the government wanting to save tax dollars, and it is despicable. In this mess no one is responsible to the children in which the system professes to serve.

The Ombudsman needs to be in power. The lot of them are clinging onto their power all together. After Jeffrey one would think that they finally wake up and know that the unchecked power of the CAS cannot continue - not so - they are so arrogant that they still refuse to do the right thing. What is left is lawsuits, and in addition to the office of the Children's lawyer coming after the CCAS I hope the family not involved with this death sue them as well. Perhaps when the government has to shell out more to protect "the protectors" things will really change.

Anonymous said...

If we want to talk about facts the fact that the Toronto CCAS refused to cooperate with Mike Davis is all telling isn't it? The entire focus is on protecting their workers and not the children. Unions should never have had the power to protect their workers from failures such as this one. The balance of rightful worker issues is a far cry from protecting them point blank from anything that they do. And really it is no wonder that Angela Martin the worker responsible for Baby Jordan was so arrogant when she announced to her fellow CCAS buddies "we will win". After all she had the CCAS lawyers, the union and government laws to "protect" her.

Isn't there something gravely wrong with a system that places more importance and emphasis on protecting CAS workers then it does children? Children don't have a union, they rely on workers such as the incompetent worker responsible for Jeffrey to protect them.

The inquest by the coroner will be interesting - one wonders what legal terms and spin doctoring will be spewed to the public in this total disaster. It will be a case of "oops, how can we get away with this one", rather then the facts of this dreadful case.

Anonymous said...

If anyone knows the answer to this question please respond. Say for instance you are in a carpenters union. You arrive drunk on the job, and you fail to provide safety measures to your fellow worker. The worker falls to his death and is killed. Does the union protect the person responsible? Does anyone know the fine line of this scenario. It is quite relevant to this as I want to know how in the name of God, a CCAS social worker can be responsible for Jeffrey Baldwin and still remain employed at that agency. In addition I wonder if writing to union heads is another channel to change this disaster. Does the union support the Ombudsman of Ontario?

Good question I think. Would love some feedback. Please does anyone know how this operates. The nitty gritty the wording of how and why this has been allowed?

Anonymous said...


Cover your ass part 2 is well said. You can hire 500 more workers but if they are not responsible does it really matter? No, I don't think it does. Coveted in union power, internal power and government power these workers appear to be the "untouchables".

The government created an eight headed monster with child welfare and it's ruthless fangs continue to bite - but who is biting into the idea of actually making these so called workers responsible?

One wonders if this is why the workers are so arrogant, and cocky - it seems to be part of the machine really. They can do anything with God like powers.

Anonymous said...

An interesting case.

Woman abused as child can sue state

Court says 4-year limit doesn't apply

By Paul Pinkham
Times-Union staff writer

A Jacksonville woman who police said was beaten, burned and malnourished in foster care while state child welfare workers looked the other way can sue the state even though the abuse was reported 23 years ago, the Florida Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

The ruling opens the door for other children abused in state care to sue for their injuries after they become adults, said victims rights attorney Jay Howell, who represents the woman identified only by her initials S.A.P.

"This is a good day for Florida children," Howell said. "This decision should have a broad impact."

Lawyers for the state Department of Children and Families were still reviewing the opinion and wouldn't be commenting before next week, a DCF spokesman said.

The Supreme Court's 5-2 ruling says the four-year statute of limitations shouldn't apply in a case where the department is accused of negligently monitoring a child and concealing the abuse. The case can now proceed to trial in Duval County.

"The law of this state does not bestow upon the department a special boon to betray the children in its charge, to flagrantly flout the law, to conceal its misdeeds and then to invoke [the law] ... as a shield for its actions," says the ruling, authored by Justice Leander Shaw.

But in a dissenting opinion, Justice Charles Wells said the court's ruling expands laws regulating lawsuits against state agencies beyond what lawmakers intended.

According to court documents, S.A.P. was 4 years old and weighed only 22 pounds in 1979 when Clay County deputies were called to her Orange Park foster home by neighbors who heard her and her sister screaming. Deputies found the girls "bruised over their entire bodies, burned, beaten, choked [and] malnourished," the woman's lawsuit says. The girls weren't even living at the foster home where the department had placed them.

The lawsuit also alleges that the department obstructed the police investigation, falsified reports, altered records and concealed the abuse.

The woman sued in 1995 after she turned 18, less than three years after the department released its internal investigation report documenting the abuse, the Supreme Court said.

Retired Circuit Judge Virginia Beverly of Jacksonville dismissed the case after DCF argued that the statute of limitations had expired. The woman appealed to the 1st District Court of Appeal, which overturned Beverly's decision and asked the Supreme Court to weigh in.

Howell said the Supreme Court's decision is equitable for children, who don't have the same power to assert their legal rights within a prescribed time as adults. In his client's case, he said, the girl was too young to know she was being abused.

"Kids are in a legal limbo because they cannot initiate legal proceedings," Howell said. "They're dependent upon a caring adult discovering what's happened to them and then moving forward."

He said his client, now 26, hopes her experience can benefit other abused children. He said she became very emotional when he informed her of the court's decision.

"There's been so much bad news in her life and in her legal case," Howell said. "It was such a different experience to hear good news."

Staff writer Paul Pinkham can be reached at (904) 359-4107 or

Anonymous said...

read the news on dufferin Voca web site you may change your tune of how hard you want to fight this.

Go to Queens Park told his story, and asked for better complaints policy, and now they want to put him in jail??
calling CAS names. Well Hello, even the police did, the crown did, and so many others in cases where children have died in placements that were to be safe. And parents emotions running high, the entire familys at risk. Children do die in care, many do, is this reason for someone to go to jail because he wrote the PM.
They are acting like what he has called them by this very action. Horvath's calls it 1984, big brother, will she be next. Will Marin.
Will I.
Will you?
I had family just visit from the US, as far away as Utah and Ariz. PA. and more, they had all heard about Jeffery's tragic death, and all blame CCAS. this is a well educated group of people. 3 of them CEO of some of the biggest American and Can, company's. one the ex CEO of Honeywell.

I ask one a child doctor, sure gave me some insight into my own childs medical records, and said WOW, look at this there is evadance for this disorder ( she is that kind of doctor) why are they not treating it????
how many moms get accused of this or that and MSBP. She told me far to many, by people to quick or lazy to really look into children's illness, and to egotistical and believe they have all the answers, she has been doing this for 30 years and has said she does not and never pretends to if she is perplex by what is happening to a child, best plan is wait and see it usually becomes clear with time, and second third opinions,and mothers do always know the child best. I told her you cant do that here, its doctor shopping, she laughed, and said well its also necessary.
We have a real problem in Ontario, and I do not think its going to get better anytime soon. How one could be taken to jail for his opinion is beyond me. What ever happened to free speech? further they jails will be very full as many people call CAS tactic Gestapo like, mob like. will they need to build prisons for all that are critics. Its not slander, its how there actions are perceived. Slander is when you read a two page report that has not one world of truth in it, and hearsay being sent from one hospital ( all from people that have never meet you or your child, nor read the medical record) and pass that on as truth to another. and really leave a child at risk.
With well over 100 such reports now from places like SCAN . CYPT, CAPP, and corrections to them with evidence of school records medical records and so forth, we should not be in denial. Twisted statements, one 200 pages, all un true. That mother told them she would take them to court and make then swear under oath, the social worker was busy trying to correct it all!! what's going on?
This all cannot be just errors. CAS taking a mother to court, saying she has a very serious mental illness, because a CAPPS team felt she did, yet 4 psychiatrist did not, and she did not, that's slander. That family went though hell. Children are still fearful of police, why would anyone err and cause such harm. The last people in the world we need are children and youth to fear is the police.Can they not see the risk in that? We teach are children to respect authority, teachers principals, police, from an early age, ( well most of us do I hope) we can not have them fear or disrespect them. And we wonder why youth do?

The news on Dufferin Voca, is a must read, for anyone that still thinks we have freedom of expression. And can openly speak to social policy for legislation with out risk.

Anonymous said...

Pooled Income Fund

When you contribute to the pooled income fund for The Children's Aid Society, you receive an income for the rest of your life, as well as a current income tax deduction. If you give low-yield appreciated securities, you may actually increase your income and avoid capital gains taxes. In summary, you make a meaningful gift to Children's Aid—a gift that also gives back to you.'

Ultimately, your gift becomes our property, which we can use to further our important work. A pooled income fund gift is a perfect way to strengthen your financial future and ours, too.

Shared Earnings
The concept of a pooled income fund is simple. A pooled income fund commingles gifts from many donors for investment purposes, sharing the net earnings proportionately among them. In many respects, it is similar to a mutual fund.

Example: John contributes $10,000 to a pooled income fund. Assume his participation represents 1 percent of the fund. If the fund's net annual earnings are $75,000, John becomes entitled to 1 percent of $75,000, or $750.

When you include a pooled income fund gift as an itemized deduction on your federal tax return in the year of the gift, you also benefit from significant tax savings.

Calculate how a pooled income fund can benefit you.

Your Role
You can give cash or securities, except those that are tax-exempt, to our pooled income fund. Your gift is irrevocable, but we agree to pay you an income for the rest of your life.

If you wish, you can name one or more survivors—your spouse, parent or anyone else—to receive a life income, too.

You benefit even more when you donate appreciated securities, as no gain is taxable to you. The pooled income fund does not pay capital gains tax either when it sells securities held long-term.

Example: Janet owns stock worth $10,000 today, which she bought many years ago for $3,000. Instead of selling her shares and realizing a taxable gain of $7,000, she gives the stock to our pooled income fund. Neither she nor the fund incurs any long-term capital gain, even though the stock is sold and the proceeds are invested in other securities.

Increase Your Income
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Fred is unhappy with the small dividend he's getting, but if he sells the stock for reinvestment, he must pay a tax at 15 percent on the entire $30,000. Fred will lose $4,500 to taxes (15 percent of $30,000). Then he would have a net amount of only $45,500 to invest ($50,000 less $4,500). Assuming he purchased an investment yielding 5 percent, he would receive $2,275 annually. Compared to the dividend of $1,000 he received before, he would increase his income by 228 percent.

While that looks pretty good, Fred learns he can do a lot better by making a pooled income fund gift. So he contributes his $50,000 worth of stock to our pooled income fund, which is also yielding 5 percent. Since the fund pays no tax on long-term capital gains, the entire $50,000 is available to generate income for him. Already he has increased his income from $1,000 to $2,500 annually, an increase of 250 percent.

There is more. Fred will also receive an income tax charitable deduction of $22,947 in the year of his gift, saving him $6,425 of income tax (28 percent of $22,947). The savings of $6,425, invested at 5 percent, yields an additional $321. This means Fred's total new income resulting from his gift is $2,821 ($2,500 plus $321), an increase of 282 percent.

In addition, Fred has the satisfaction of knowing that after his lifetime, his gift will benefit a cause in which he believes deeply.

The Tax Implications
Assuming you itemize, you are allowed to take a sizable charitable deduction when you make a gift to our pooled income fund, even though we can't use the principal while someone, such as you or another beneficiary, is receiving an income.

The value of your deduction depends on your age and the age of any other beneficiary, as well as the rate of return earned by the fund in recent years. Official U.S. Treasury tables establish the amount by discounting the value of each life interest. If you are the sole beneficiary, your charitable deduction will be substantially larger.

When you contribute cash to the fund, you can deduct the value of your gift up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income the same year. The excess is deductible over the next five years using the same formula. For a gift of long-term appreciated property, the annual ceiling on deductibility is 30 percent of your adjusted gross income, but you still have five years to carry over and use any excess deduction. In certain circumstances you can elect the 50 percent rule.

For income tax purposes, your income from the pooled income fund is taxable as ordinary income, which is 100 percent taxable.

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Long-standing public policy recognizes the value of tax incentives as a desirable way of encouraging individuals to assist charitable organizations. The government knows that most of the support for such institutions comes from private sources rather than tax revenues.

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Intrigued by what you have read so far? We hope so, but let's assume you have questions.

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Q. What size gift is possible?
A. That is up to you. There is no fixed size, and gifts vary widely in amount. We would be glad to tell you our modest current minimum; donors rarely find it a problem. In fact, this kind of plan is especially desirable if you choose not to give the substantially larger amount recommended for a separate charitable remainder trust.

Q. How much income will I receive?
A. Your gift will be invested along with other contributions to the combined fund, and you will receive your share of the net earnings each year. The fund is invested prudently, seeking both an attractive return and safety of principal. You benefit from an increased return on the assets you contribute because of the tax deduction your gift generates. If you give low-yielding securities to the fund, you can increase your income even more. We would be pleased to quote the fund's recent yield.

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A. Yes. The fund's earnings depend on its investment results. While high income is always an important goal, changing economic conditions affect the fund's return. However, its size and diversification assure comparative stability.

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A. Our pooled income fund is managed by investment specialists known for their experience, competence and integrity. We closely monitor their performance.

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A. Managing your own money demands your constant attention. By contributing to our fund, you lessen that chore; and if you name another family member as beneficiary, you assure professional management for that person's greater security.

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You acquire an assured source of income for life.
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Beyond the personal financial benefits you enjoy, you gain the satisfaction of supporting a cause that means a great deal to you; and there is the possibility that, over time, the value of your gift will grow, eventually increasing your contribution to our work.

The Personal Advantages
A gift to our pooled income fund will enable you to make a worthy contribution to us while maintaining or even increasing your own income. Your generosity will be rewarded by securing both your future and ours.

We would be happy to explain the specific financial benefits of our pooled income fund. Please call Cathy O'Rourke at 212-949-4936, or e-mail us at, for more information. There is no obligation, of course.

The information on this site is not intended as legal, tax or investment advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney, tax professional or investment professional.

Copyright © The Stelter Company, All Right Reserved.

what do you think?
There is open stock as well, not under CAS but connected, stock in child maltreatment, now that's one parents and most should hope crashes,
But business is good I hear. how are we suppose to view stock in child abuse? I have to wonder how many family court lawyers are invested, and others that keep expanding what child maltreatment is.

Anonymous said...

Camp fixtures: bugs, s'mores — and pills
By Jane Gross

The New York Times

BURLINGHAM, N.Y. — The breakfast buffet at Camp Echo starts at a picnic table where children jostle for their morning medications: Zoloft for depression, Abilify for bipolar disorder, guanfacine for twitchy eyes and a host of medications for attention-deficit disorder.

A quick gulp of water, a greeting from the nurse, and the youngsters move on to the next table for orange juice, Special K and chocolate-chip pancakes. The dispensing of pills and pancakes is over in minutes.

The medication lines like the one at Camp Echo were unheard of a generation ago but have become fixtures at residential camps across the country. Between one-quarter and one-half of the youngsters at any given summer camp take daily prescription medications, experts say. Allergy and asthma drugs top the list, but behavior-management and psychiatric medications are now so common that nurses who dispense them no longer try to avoid stigma by pretending they are vitamins.

"All my best friends take something," said David Ehrenreich, 12, who has Tourette's syndrome yet feels at home here because boys with hyperactivity, mood disorders, learning disabilities and facial tics line up just as he does for their daily meds.

With campers far from home, family and pediatricians, the job of safely and efficiently dispensing medications falls to infirmaries and nurses whose stock in trade used to be calamine lotion and cough syrup. Three times a day, at mealtimes, is the norm, with some campers also requiring a sleep aid at bedtime to counteract the effect of their daytime medications.

"This is the American standard now," said Rodger Popkin, an owner of Blue Stars Camps in Hendersonville, N.C. "It's not limited by education level, race, socioeconomics, geography, gender or any of those filters."

Peg Smith, the chief executive officer of the American Camp Association, a trade group with 2,600 member camps and 3 million campers, says about a quarter of the children at its camps are medicated for attention-deficit disorder, psychiatric problems or mood disorders.

Many parents welcome the anonymity that comes when a lot of children take this, that or the other drug, so none stands out from the crowd.

"It's nobody's business who's taking what," said one parent of an Echo camper who is medicated for attention-deficit disorder. The parent asked not to be named for privacy reasons. "It could be an allergy pill. The way they do it now, he feels comfortable. He just goes up with everybody else, gets it and then carries on with his day."

Year-round regimen

Increasingly popular is a service offered by a private company called CampMeds, which provides a summer's worth of prepackaged pills to 6,000 children at 100 camps. The company's founder, Dana Godel, said 40 percent of the children regularly took one or more prescription medications, compared with 30 percent four years ago. Eight percent used attention-deficit medications last year; 5 percent took psychiatric drugs.
Borrowing technology developed for nursing homes, CampMeds distributes pills in shrink-wrapped packets marked with a name, date and time. Camp nurses tear each packet and dispense, sparing them the labor-intensive task of counting pills and reducing the risk of error, and thus, liability.

The proliferation of children on stimulants for attention-deficit disorder, antidepressants or antipsychotic drugs — or on cocktails of all three — is not peculiar to the camp setting. Rather, it is the extension of an increasingly common year-round regimen that has also had an impact on schools, although a lesser one, since most medications are taken at home.

Exacting diagnoses and proper treatments enable some children to go to camp who otherwise could not function in that environment, said Dr. David Fassler, a child-and-adolescent psychiatrist and a professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine.

Fassler said that children with one behavioral or mood disorder often "have a second or even a third diagnosis." A child with attention-deficit disorder may also be depressed and anxious, he said, a combination of symptoms that can make such children pariahs in the close quarters of a summer-camp cabin without the proper combination of remedies.

Too many meds?

Some camp owners question the trend, however. Popkin, the camp owner in North Carolina, is among them. "It's universal, and nobody really knows if it's appropriate or safe," he said.

And many experts say family doctors who do not have expertise in psychopharmacology sometimes prescribe drugs for anxiety disorders and depression to children without rigorous evaluation, just as they do for adults.

"There is no doubt that kids are more medicated than they used to be," said Dr. Edward Walton, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan and an expert on camp medicine for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "And we know that the people prescribing these drugs are not that precise about diagnosis. So the percentage of kids on these meds is probably higher than it needs to be."

A few medicines growing in popularity, like Abilify and Risperdal, are used for a grab bag of mood disorders. But according to the Physicians' Desk Reference, the encyclopedia of prescription medications, they can have troublesome side effects in children and teenagers, including elevated blood sugar or a tendency toward heat exhaustion, which requires vigilance by counselors during long, hot days.

Some doctors, nurses and camp directors are uneasy about giving children so-called off-label drugs like Lexapro and Luvox. Such medications are used for depression and anxiety, and have been tested only on adults but can legally be prescribed to children. Clonidine is approved as a medication for high blood pressure but is routinely used for behavioral and emotional problems in children.

"That doesn't mean they are inappropriate or unsafe," Fassler said, adding that camp nurses should be able to call the physician when they have questions, but that not all parents welcome that.

Few camp directors risk discussions with parents about behavioral or psychiatric drugs. "We don't make these judgments for families," said Marla Coleman, an owner of Camp Echo and a past president of the American Camp Association.

Trial, error, fears

Figuring out how to distribute all this medicine has taken some trial and error, beginning with supervision by the nurses, who watch the children take their pills.

Some camps do it in the mess hall, citing informality to put campers at ease and the convenience of having everyone assembled in one place.

Other camps prefer the infirmary, to provide more privacy. Camp Pontiac in Copake, N.Y., built a special medication wing with its own entrance and a porch where campers wait their turn.

In Fishkill, N.Y., at a Fresh Air Fund camp for underprivileged children, one nurse in the infirmary deals with bug bites and skinned knees and the other dispenses Strattera and Zoloft, the first for attention-deficit disorder and the second for depression, social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The potential for harmful drug interactions is compounded by the widespread use of allergy and asthma medications. Tofranil, an antidepressant for adults that is used for bed-wetting in children, is not recommended in combination with Allegra, for seasonal allergies; Advair, an asthma drug; or epinephrine, the injectable antidote to deadly allergic reactions to bee stings, insect bites and certain foods.

Despite a tenfold increase in childhood allergies over the past decade, some camp doctors think daily medication is overused. The owners of Camp Pontiac, Ken and Rick Etra, brothers who are ear, nose and throat doctors, urge parents to forgo prescription remedies for seasonal allergies when occasional over-the-counter antihistamines are sufficient. Their summer camp does not overlap with the height of the pollen and grass season, the Etras say.

They also discourage bed-wetting medications, which can leave a youngster groggy.

"They don't pee, but they're zombies," said Mimi Burcham, Pontiac's head nurse. Instead, camp directors train counselors to wake certain children at midnight for a trip to the bathroom and replace soiled linens with identical sheets to avoid embarrassment.

CampMeds charges $40 per child for any length of stay or for any regimen, a cost that most camps pass along to families. The Fresh Air Fund camps do not use CampMeds, but not because of cost, said Jenny Morgenthau, the fund's executive director. Rather, Morgenthau said, many of the families are too disorganized — some in shelters or in prison — to do the preparatory paperwork.

So Fresh Air's campers arrive with an array of unmarked bags and bottles that cannot be used under state regulations, and without some of their essential medications. Susan Powers and Leticia Diaz, who run the infirmary at the girls' camp, are accustomed to children bringing their brother's expired asthma inhaler or their grandmother's sleeping pills in a perfume bottle. Sometimes the medications are missing because they have been sold on the street or used by adults, Powers and Diaz said. It takes a few days to unscramble.

The nurses at high-end camps have the opposite problem, with parents who try to involve themselves in all aspects of their children's lives with ceaseless efforts to help. That mind-set has the potential to lead to overmedication, many camp owners and doctors say.

Burcham, a special-education nurse during the school year, said she often worries about her unfamiliarity with some of the drugs. She often turns to the Physicians' Desk Reference for guidance, or sometimes calls her father, a psychiatrist.

Unpacking the shipment of medicine at Pontiac in mid-June, she tried to make sense of a packet from CampMeds for an 11-year-old who, for the first time, would be taking Concerta, for attention-deficit disorder, along with clonidine and Wellbutrin, both mood-disorder drugs.

"I'm not a specialist, and that's very disturbing sometimes," Burcham said. "How do I know if we're really getting it right?"

Then she carefully placed the medications in a plastic bin marked with the camper's name.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Anonymous said...

Parents' fears over vaccinating kids sets ethics debate
Pediatricians must balance concerns with public health


Dr. Doug Diekema, a medical ethicist, doesn't just contemplate tricky questions from afar. He has struggled with some of the same dilemmas in his own family.

When his daughter, Katie, was a baby, Diekema opted to hold off on having her receive the new chicken pox vaccine. It wasn't required yet for admission to public school and, in any case, she wasn't attending preschool or day care yet.

Parents' fears over vaccinating kids sets ethics debate
Pediatricians must balance concerns with public health


Dr. Doug Diekema, a medical ethicist, doesn't just contemplate tricky questions from afar. He has struggled with some of the same dilemmas in his own family.

When his daughter, Katie, was a baby, Diekema opted to hold off on having her receive the new chicken pox vaccine. It wasn't required yet for admission to public school and, in any case, she wasn't attending preschool or day care yet.

But when Katie was a little older, she developed a close friendship with a little girl who had leukemia.

For Diekema and his wife, the other girl's delicate immune system changed the equation.

"Whether we want it for Katie or not isn't the issue anymore," said Diekema, interim director of the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. "We did not want to be responsible for exposing a child who is vulnerable."

Ethical issues related to vaccination are a topic at a conference on pediatric bioethics, hosted through today by Children's. Today's discussion focuses on parents who worry about and some who ultimately refuse vaccinations for their children.

For more and more parents, the decision to vaccinate is no longer as simple as trusting federal recommendations and school requirements. Concerns about overwhelming immature immune systems and suggested links between mercury in vaccines and increasing autism rates (the Institute of Medicine found no relationship between the two), have led some to reject vaccines.

And while those charged with public health struggle to impart the message that higher rates of vaccinations protect everybody, pediatricians are on the front lines of the debate, coaxing, listening to fears and, in some cases, parting ways with parents who refuse to submit their children for the 11 vaccinations now recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Washington, parents can opt out of vaccination requirements for school enrollment if they have philosophical or religious objections.

In 1999, seven counties had a 5 percent or greater exemption rate for school admissions. By 2004, that number had grown to 15 counties. King County's exemption rate increased from 3 to 4 percent during the same period.

Dr. Edgar Marcuse, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine and a physician at Children's, said that unlike previous generations, parents now don't necessarily see a huge threat from the diseases vaccines protect against.

In 1967, when Marcuse finished medical school, there were four common immunizations available -- polio, measles, rubella and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis.

Today, the immunizations include vaccines for diseases that many parents have never seen, including rotavirus and Hib, Haemophilus influenzae type B, which can cause meningitis.

It can be difficult to persuade some parents to accept the small risk associated with vaccination to combat a disease they have no experience with, Marcuse said.

"We've wiped out Hib, but the public was never aware of the disease and never knew it went away," Marcuse said.

Some doctors decide they can't keep a child as a patient if their parents refuse to vaccinate, said Diekema, who will be speaking along with Marcuse at today's conference.

Those physicians insist that the parent and the doctor have an obligation to protect both the individual child and the community. Diekema, however, believes a gentler approach is more effective.

"That's not a strong enough obligation that I have a right to fire them from my practice" or call Child Protective Services, Diekema said.

Instead, asking parents about their concerns, trying to discern if they're getting accurate information and patience (for example, suggesting the vaccinations be staggered rather than giving an infant three in one day), can ease their anxiety, Diekema said.

Anonymous said...

doctors calling child protection on parents who have concerns about vaccines?? and they should IMHO
the ped will hang there hats on the last funded study done in Canada by the expert witness for the vaccine manufator. Give us a break,

And yup still hanging in a frame in my office is Time Mag Cover, no link between lung cancer and smoking, all the studys, as the docotr lite up in his office, people smoked on buses, in hospitals, that fight went on and on, but medicine, the EPA and Health and Welfare Canada ( its now HC)
all said it was safe. If vaccines truly are, then some one should explain, why did they hide a clause in the Home Land secuirty Bill to protect big pharma, against vaccine lawsuits,??

Anonymous said...

I agree the news on Dufferin VOCA about the man that they want to send to jail is chilling. It is big brother. The director must want to make an example of an activist to scare others into silence - which is like the Gestapo - ironic considering the whole mess. What happened to free speech is right and why does the CAS have so much to hide that they want to jail those who speak out against it? Really says it all. The man in question should find a good lawyer and try and fight this thing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that so many in the United States have heard about Jeffrey. This was a horrible case that was described as being one of the worst child abuse cases in Canada. Not surprising that those in the States also blame the CCAS -anyone with a brain does. What are they going to do arrest us all? Even the police have concerns as they REFUSED to cooperate in the investigation about this nightmare.

This case is a National disgrace, and speaks to the hell that child welfare is.

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Anonymous said...


Former foster dad's arrest a relief to teen
Man is suspected of abusing, molesting children in his care

Saturday, June 10, 2006


For years, Ruth Tamas tried to sound the alarm, telling state social workers that her foster father was physically abusing her and sexually assaulting her older sister. They never believed her.

On Wednesday, however, Redmond police -- acting on a tip from the older girl -- arrested Enrique Fabregas, 52, at Overlake Christian Church, where he sings in the choir. In his home they found piles of child pornography and explicit videotapes, most of which depicted the children in his care, officers said.

He is now being held in King County Jail on $1 million bail on suspicion of child rape, child molestation and possession of child pornography. His lawyer says he denies the allegations.

Scott Eklund / P-I
Ruth Tamas, 18, speaks to reporters after the court hearing for her ex-foster father Enrique Fabregas. She said he had assaulted her and her sister. Her mother, Diane Johnson, left, wipes away tears.
For Tamas, 18, the arrest brought relief, along with disgust for state authorities who had ignored her complaints.

"All of them said I was lying," said the college-freshman-to-be, as she stood Friday outside a courtroom at the King County Jail where a judge ordered Fabregas held. "He belongs in jail until he rots. He ruined so many peoples' lives."

Child-welfare officials acknowledged receiving eight sexual abuse complaints against Fabregas between 2002, when the Tamas sisters were placed with him, and 2004, when they were removed. But none of the claims was sustained, mainly because the sisters repeatedly recanted, a state spokeswoman said.

Still, a "red flag" had gone up, and in 2004 investigators asked Fabregas, a waiter at several Eastside Italian restaurants, to undergo a sexual-deviancy evaluation. When he refused, they revoked his license and sent the sisters to new foster homes.

But a younger girl remained. Fabregas had adopted her as a baby after meeting her mother in drug treatment, and because she was not a ward of the state, nor the subject of any substantiated abuse allegations, officials had no grounds to take action, said Kathy Spears, spokeswoman at the Department of Social and Health Services. That child, now 12, has since told police about two incidents of sexual assault, according to court documents.

"Unless we have enough information to take to the court," Spears said, "it's really difficult for us to remove a biological or adopted child."

Generally, a drug-related criminal history such as Fabregas' would disqualify him as an adoptive or foster parent, but in 1998 Court Commissioner Jim Doerty ruled that he had completed enough treatment to earn a "certificate of rehabilitation."

Though she'd left Fabregas' home by 2004, Ruth Tamas, then 16, did not give up. She told adults that she'd seen a videotape of Fabregas having sex with her older sister, Estera.

The Seattle P-I normally does not name victims of sexual assault, but Estera has given permission.

Fabregas -- romantically involved with the girls' mother -- began dressing Estera, then 12, in lingerie and photographing her in sexually suggestive posses. Within a few years the fondling had progressed to intercourse, according to court documents.

"I am so relieved," Estera Tamas, now 19, said in an interview. "I feel like I'm finally getting justice for what was done to me."

Fabregas denies all the allegations, according to his lawyer, Douglas Holt.

"People should keep an open mind," Holt said. "There's another side to the story."

Apparently, many have known a very different Enrique Fabregas. He attended Overlake Christian Church and was the subject of about 20 letters of endorsement from teachers and other parents who praised him to child-welfare workers. Church officials said he'd had no involvement with youth programs.

"What we're concerned about is that he has been out in the community -- kind of like this dad that everyone likes," said Redmond police spokeswoman Stacey Holland. "So we're worried about neighborhoods he's been in."


P-I reporter Claudia Rowe can be reached at 206-448-8320 or

© 1998-2006 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Anonymous said...

Adoptive mother charged with abuse
By: Becky Clark, staff writer


Between March 31 and April 13 Cynthia Lynn Richardson, 44, allegedly used "extreme punishment" by bandaging the 8-year-old girl's arms together at night so tightly as to cause bruising, according to court documents.

Richardson "continually abused the victim by wrapping the victim's arms and hands every night with Ace bandages even though this caused red marks and numbness of the victim's hands," the documents state.

She allegedly further punished the child by "swatting her with a wooden spoon on the back of her head and her buttocks if she complained about the wraps being too tight and hurting," according to court documents.

The abuse was to have occurred at Richardson's home in Rogers County, northeast of Owasso.

A Barnes Elementary School counselor was listed among the witnesses on the court documents.

Richardson's arraignment has been set for July 19 before Rogers County Special Judge L. Joe Smith.

Anonymous said...

Report: More Evaluations Of Foster Parents Needed

POSTED: 11:39 pm EDT July 6, 2006
UPDATED: 8:20 am EDT July 7, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Foster parents should undergo behavioral evaluations before being allowed to adopt their foster children, Wake County Human Services officials said in a report released Thursday.

The report is the culmination of an internal examination following the February death of a 4-year-old boy whose adoptive mother has been charged with the slaying.

Investigators said Sean Paddock was wrapped so tightly in a blanket that he suffocated. An autopsy also showed numerous bruises from beatings with a plastic plumbing pipe.

Lynn Marie Paddock has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the boy's Feb. 26 death in their Johnston County home.

The Wake County report concluded that social workers did the best they could for Sean Paddock and his siblings at the time.

"We don't think this represents any neglect on the part of the public system. We think it was a tragedy," said Dr. Peter Morris, chairman of the county Child Fatality Prevention Team.

Still, because the boy was adopted in Wake County, officials with the county's social services agency hope to use his death as a lesson that could prevent similar events in the future.

A report detailing the findings of a state investigation into the boy's death is expected within the next two weeks.

"The family who adopted Sean actually had been known for over 10 years to the Children's Home Society and had successfully adopted three previous children, including children with special needs," Morris said. "Usually, the best indicator of a good outcome with adoption is previous experience with the system."

But authorities alleged that Lynn Paddock also abused her other adoptive children. Authorities now say agencies should look deeper before finalizing adoptions.

"One of our recommendations is, in selected case, that we should look into the emotional and psychological stability of the family that's adopting," Morris said. "There was little indication the Paddock family wouldn’t succeed with this adoption since they had succeeded in the past. But we wonder whether the state would allow behavioral evaluations."

Other recommendations included in the report call for improved communication among agencies, more intensive follow-up on abuse or neglect charges and better support for adoptive families.

Anonymous said...

N.J. Adoptive Mother of Starved Sons Gets 7 Years

Saturday , February 11, 2006

CAMDEN, N.J. — Bruce Jackson walked into court Friday with a swagger, 15 inches taller and nearly 100 pounds heavier than the 45-pound teenager found foraging through a trash can for food less than two and a half years ago.

With anger in his still high-pitched voice, the 21-year-old took the stand to confront the woman he and his three adoptive brothers say went for years denying them not just food, but the chance to grow up like normal kids.

"You were mean to me for my whole life," Jackson told his adoptive mother, Vanessa Jackson, before she was sentenced to seven years in prison for child endangerment. "You took my childhood. I'm so disappointed I will never get that back."

It was the first time Bruce Jackson and his younger brothers had appeared in public since their ordeal became national news in October 2003. All four are thin, but nothing like the gaunt figures investigators found after a neighbor spotted Bruce rummaging through the garbage.

They told the judge about childhoods Vanessa Jackson wrecked by not taking them to a doctor, serving them only water for dinner sometimes, not letting them play outside and even not letting them bathe.

The three younger brothers, testifying in videos they had recorded before the sentencing, spoke of being accused of stealing when they went into the kitchen to get food, being beaten with belts and shoes and being given meals such as dry oatmeal and tonic water.

"We each had our own bowl we ate from," said Keith Jackson, now 16. "Sometimes they didn't wash it out. This woman, I don't know why she did it."

Vanessa Jackson sat motionless throughout the 2 1/2-hour court proceeding and chose not to speak.

Bruce Jackson, who spent 12 years under Vanessa Jackson's care, told about how he and his adoptive brothers were forced to sit on stairs in the family's Collingswood houses while the Jacksons' biological children, two adopted daughters and foster daughter were allowed to lead more normal lives.

"You wouldn't let us go to bed when we wanted to," he said. "You made us stay up until 12 a.m. You wouldn't let us get up when we wanted to. You made us stay in bed until 1 or 2 p.m."

The boys were removed from the home of Vanessa Jackson and her husband, Raymond, who were each charged with 28 counts of child endangerment and aggravated assault. Raymond Jackson died a little over a year later.

Vanessa Jackson struck a plea deal with prosecutors in November, admitting guilt to one charge of child endangerment and agreeing to a prison term of up to seven years. She could be eligible for parole in about two years.

Her lawyer, Alan Dexter Bowman, argued that she deserved a shorter sentence because the state Division of Youth and Family Services sent them foster children that he said had "a history of complex problems."

DYFS has acknowledged failing the children because caseworkers who visited the family to check on a foster daughter did nothing to get the boys help. The state agreed last October to pay the four boys a total of $12.5 million.

Four of Vanessa Jackson's biological children told Judge Robert G. Millenky that the accounts from the adopted sons were wrong and pleaded that their mother not be sent to prison.

"We went to church events. We went outside. We went to stores," said Raymond Jackson Jr. "We went to my grandmother's house and ate."

The Rev. Harry Thomas, founding pastor at a church the family attended, said the boys suffered from an eating disorder, but prosecutor Donna Spinosi noted that all four boys have more than doubled in weight since leaving the Jacksons' home.

Millenky lectured Vanessa Jackson, especially for not taking the boys to doctors.

"Had you simply taken them to a doctor, a doctor would have told you what was wrong," he said.

Anonymous said...

Read this total crap from McConnville - SHE IS STILL DEFENDING WHAT HAPPENED TO JEFFREY AND BLAMING IT ON POLICY? It is a disgusting display. The police should be arresting her, not those protesting against CCAS.

CCAS fixing its mistake

Catholic Register Special

On April 7, the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto made a public statement expressing its deep regrets over Jeffrey Baldwin's tragic death.

The agency takes full responsibility for its dealings with the Bottineau/Kidman family and will provide a full accounting of its involvement in Jeffrey's troubled life and death through the coroner's inquest. The agency also wishes to provide the community with assurances that we have eliminated our own service gaps and have helped to strengthen the child protection capacity here and throughout Ontario.

The Catholic Children's Aid Society became involved with Jeffrey's parents as protection clients in the 1990s. His grandparents were not protection clients at that time, nor were they foster parents. They were reporting concerns and taking part in case conferences about how the children were being treated by their parents over the course of four years. The grandparents eventually came to be viewed by CCAS staff as advocates for the welfare of their grandchildren. Had CCAS conducted a record check on these grandparents, it would have discovered they were former clients who had been criminally convicted of child abuse in the 1970s.

In the meantime, the grandparents brought forward private applications to family court, seeking custody of Jeffrey and his older siblings, with the backing of Jeffrey's parents and the approval of the CCAS. A younger sibling was later placed through Child Welfare Court, with the approval of the agency.

Why would CCAS have not checked its records? Part of the answer relates to the framework for child welfare practice during that period. The focus and legislative context of child welfare intervention in the 1990s and earlier was on family preservation, including the consideration of extended family members, or kin, as potential caregivers. Previously, as today, Ontario's Children's Aid Societies followed standardized protocols and practices for considering all applicants who wish to foster or adopt children, including relatives of children admitted into Children's Aid Society care. However, until very recently, there were no sector-wide guidelines for assessing extended family as caregivers for children in need of protection but who were not in the care of a Children's Aid. As a result, such practice was inconsistent at best both within CCAS and the field of child welfare.

Despite extensive child welfare reforms in 2000 that emphasized the safety of the child as the paramount principle in protection service, the gap in the regulations and standards to assess extended family of out of care children remained.

The agency came into contact with Jeffrey's family again in the summer of 2000 during a strike, when it investigated an allegation of abuse made by an online acquaintance of an adult in the Bottineau/Kidman home. A CCAS supervisor visited the home and saw Jeffrey and the other children. The effects of maltreatment were not evident more than two years prior to his death. A record check was done, however, it was not extensive enough to detect the historical record. The case was closed. This was the last contact the society had with the family until Jeffrey's death.

In 2003, we moved quickly to make substantial changes to our practices to reduce the risks of a tragedy like Jeffrey's. The changes to our practices included: mandatory record checking and assessment of all persons including family members who come forward as potential caregivers as an alternative to placing children in foster care; retraining for existing staff and mandatory training for new staff in conducting comprehensive record checks and reviewing family histories; and improvements to our record keeping system to simplify record retrieval by eliminating multiple systems, creating a master database and making historic records accessible from various CCAS branch offices online.

The case was independently reviewed by an expert in child welfare and the review of child deaths. The recommendations of the review supported the operational changes CCAS had already made but it also flagged the need for systemic change including provincial standards and protocols regarding background checks and the assessment of kin homes where family members come forward as potential caregivers. The expert's recommendations were sent to the Coroner's Office and the ministry, advocating for government regulations which were introduced in February, 2006 that standardize record checking and home study practices across Ontario.

The Catholic Children's Aid Society has taken swift action to remedy the gaps in its procedures and bolster its protection capacity and it has shared these hard-learned lessons so that the child welfare system can be strengthened as a whole.

We hope the inquest into the death of Jeffrey Baldwin will help further strengthen the value of Ontario's child welfare system, by identifying additional improvements that will reduce the risk of other tragedies.

(McConville is executive director of the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto.)

Anonymous said...

Ms Reed is also asking for Oversight of the CAS agencys. Its falling on deaf ears.
I must agree with the reporter, people treat dogs better then humans, children the sick and elderly. Your Golden can have a hip replacement in a week, your mother, 3 years maybe.

Anonymous said...

You are right - it is falling on deaf ears because the CCAS and CAS do not want to be responsible what so ever, and neither do our politicians. The lot of them simply do not care with the exception of a few like MPP Andrea Horwath who drafted Bill 88 asking for Ombudsman oversight. In truth many have wanted CAS oversight for years, but Jeffrey's death brought to light the entire ball of wax and the total failure of the system at large.

Maybe they all don't want to address the corruption of the system but at some point they need to. We do treat animals better then children in a country where people gloat about child protection on one hand being the CAS yet refuse to be responsible. They want their cake, and they want to eat it too. What has eaten at them though is that the corruption has been brought to the attention of the public with this case.

CCAS did not want to even cooperate with the police in this case. Really says it all. The inquiry will be interesting and the further spin doctoring of the CAS and politicians that seem to want to do nothing but defend an archaic, corrupt system. How dare any of them defend the system after Jeffrey. The public can likely expect more of the same from the CCAS with this case - more lies, more disregard, and more stupidity. They should be shut down completely.

Anonymous said...

I agree, they harm more children then ever help. I have letters from people who have even tried to adopt children from the CAS, one agency wrote an apology letter to the family, they messed even that up, and the child ended up in care in the US. This was a case one of the few I have run across that the child really needed to be protected, they failed, and failed the family that were willing to provide the child with a home, if the women that wanted to adopt the child was not a social worker, they would have been treated like the rest, scum.

Foster children so many foster children, the government knew there were no services for families when they empowered CAS with the lower risk levels to remove children, risk of MAYBE emotional harm, hearing about parents with no GP in Ontario being harassed by CAS for medical neglect!! how are they expected to pull a GP from there hat. People that spoke in front of the social policy committee in regards to Bill 210, now being threatened one with jail?
What do they think that makes the agency look like, acting like nazis, Overtly Orwellian !!!! of course that is the publics perception. Slander, how much money did the agency lose as a result of the person in questions opinions?
Can it be proven? I don't think so,but that's only my opinion, and we all must be so careful to have one today, or voice them in this so called democratic society.
THIS IS TAX PAYERS MONEY they are using to take Mr Ellis to court?? surely we could use this money for something less petty. And how silly, most people who have dealt with CAS agencies feel the same way, and many that have NOT. Are we all going to jail?
On this site Ms Reed refers to them as the Mafia, so what? her opinions is based on what she has seen and read, and researched.
Its not all about Jeffrey, but how sad, it has effected everyone that read about it, The Fifth Estate, made us all cringe, not even Edger Allan Poe, could have haunted us more.
But this was real, and the public has asked loud and clear for change, not just for Jeffrey but Matthew Reid, and the long list of children that have died in care.
The long list of Crown Wards that have been abused by the system.
In the Crown Wards, a young pretty girl sits with her social worker, the same worker I believe that came to see her under a bridge, that's where she was living, that's better then where they took her from??
and we were paying and entrusting them with her care?
The social worker young and perhaps with good intentions herself, asked the her client if she knew when she stopped being sent in and out of hospital, for mental health reasons, the girl answers YES, WHEN I LEFT THE SYSTEM. but the social workers says well ok but also because you took responsibility for your self. a twist, and trying to soften the blow of what the client knew to be true.

What's wrong with love she asked, a mothers love, foster parents do not touch foster children they know better, parents do hug and love our children.

The agencies have failed, failed to many to be trusted.
I believe even many good workers in the child protection would prefer to go back to using there trained skills, social work. Are we even listening to them.

One American State said it so well, we are getting out of the business of tearing families apart, and working on families and children.
This was the director own quote.

This minster should be moved from the post as well. She is Not listening to the very people she said she would. And misleads the press about oversight

Anonymous said...

We're Allowing Environmental Child Abuse:


Date: 000824

A report released this week and changes to an Ontario law put new responsibility on us to protect future generations

Trevor Hancock, Globe and Mail, August 24, 2000

Is what we are doing to the environment a form of child abuse? Richard Jackson, director of the U.S. National Center for Environmental Health, has said, "People who wouldn't dream of abusing a child think nothing of giving their children and grandchildren an environment that has been abused."

I wouldn't suggest -- at least, not yet -- that either the manufacturers of products known or believed to cause harm to children, or the federal and provincial governments whose job it is to regulate them, should be formally charged with child abuse.

But a review of recent amendments to Ontario's Child and Family Services Act (OCFSA), and a dire environmental report released Tuesday by the Canadian Institute of Child Health, does raise the question.

The act now requires people to report suspected child maltreatment by "the person having charge of the child." That maltreatment includes both actual physical harm and "a risk that the child is likely to suffer physical harm resulting from the person's failure to adequately . . . protect the child."

It also extends the definition of child maltreatment to include both actual emotional harm and the "risk that the child is likely to suffer emotional harm . . . demonstrated by serious . . . anxiety, depression or delayed development" where "there are reasonable grounds to believe" that this harm resulted from a "failure to act . . . on the part of . . . the person having charge of the child."

This is a broad definition, and indeed may be broad enough to encompass some aspects of the concept of environmental child abuse that I'm advancing. For example, given the evidence of the impact of second-hand smoke on infants and children, one could certainly argue that smoking in a house where children live is a form of child abuse. Indeed, the presence of a smoker in a household has already been used as grounds for refusing adoption and for denying custody in divorce cases. And we may not be too far from the day when the use of household and garden pesticides in the presence of children could be identified as a form of environmental child abuse.

Certainly, the sanctioning by boards of education of the use of pesticides in schools is a clear example of the "person having charge of the child" creating a situation where there is a risk that children may suffer physical harm, given what we know about the relationship between pesticides and environmental sensitivity, allergies, and neurological, immunological and other health effects, including cancer. The Institute of Child Health report found a 25-per-cent increase in the rate of childhood cancers in the past 25 years.

Surely, any board of education that approves the use of pesticides in schools should be reported to the Children's Aid Society (CAS), at least in Ontario. Indeed, failure to make such a report by a professional (including teachers and physicians) who knows of or suspects such a situation, under the new OCFSA, would open that professional up to a fine of $1,000.

However, I'm not concerned so much with these individual acts of environmental child abuse and their potential legal implications, as I am with our collective societal contribution to environmental abuse that will, in turn, have profound consequences for our children and grandchildren.

Clearly, the principal target of the OCFSA is the parent or those acting in loco parentis. But when it comes to potentially harmful chemicals to which children may be exposed -- such as chlorpyrifos, a common pesticide that has been in use for decades but now is being removed from the market because of evidence that it may cause neurological damage in children -- who has charge of the child? It cannot be the parent or daycare worker or teacher if they are using a product that both the manufacturer and the regulator have approved. So surely, in a very real sense, it is the manufacturer and the regulator who have charge of the child.

Under the terms of the OCFSA, then, it seems reasonable to suggest that the physician, other professional, or indeed any ordinary citizen, must report to the CAS if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is likely to suffer physical harm or emotional harm, including serious delayed development, as a result of the failure of a manufacturer or regulator to adequately protect the child. Surely, the failure to immediately remove a product when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that it might cause physical harm to a child constitutes such a failure. And the repeated failure to remove such products constitutes "a pattern of neglect in . . . protecting the child," which is also a basis for a mandatory report to the CAS.

Just how far should we extend this argument?

Hard to say. Can anyone seriously doubt that Inuit children born with a high body burden of persistent organic pollutants might suffer physical harm and/or delayed development? Or that some children exposed to the levels of urban smog we experience on a regular basis in and around Canada's cities will suffer from asthma or other health problems? Or that children for several generations to come, for whom we surely bear some responsibility, will likely suffer both physical and emotional harm, including serious anxiety and depression, as a result of the depletion of resources, the warming of the climate, the destruction of habitats, the extinction of species and other damage we are wreaking on the Earth's ecosystems?

In short, we are abusing our children's environment and in the process we are, in effect, abusing our children and grandchildren.

We are reducing their opportunities for a long and healthy life, undermining the ecological systems on which they will depend for sustenance and bringing them into the world with a body burden of persistent organic pollutants.

If these activities do not constitute environmental child abuse, I don't know what does.

As a society, we can no longer afford an economic system that provides us with excessive wealth and instant gratification at the expense of future generations' health and wellbeing. Only through a massive transformation of our economic system to one that is fully sustainable in environmental, social and human health terms can we hope to provide our children with the same or better level of health, wellbeing, and quality of life that we enjoy today.

As a society we are collectively responsible for what amounts to environmental child abuse.

It is time to take this responsibility seriously -- at least as seriously as we take other forms of child abuse -- and begin to make changes in our production and use of chemicals, our use of resources, and our way of life that will ensure a healthy environment for our children and their descendants. Trevor Hancock is a public-health physician and health-promotion consultant. He is chair of the board of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

But wait what do doctors know about enviro risk to children, NOT MUCH, not even lead, or treated wood and arsenic, Nor do social workers, I had on social worker from a childrens hospital tell me EVERYONE has inorganic arsenic in their blood, well what can I say,
I agree with Dr Hancock, the government is lack when it comes to emmison laws, and its the PMRA job to protect industry, and HC to protect them as well, public health is always the last on the list.

Anonymous said...

The eletican is coming up, remind then CAS and CCAS agencys NEED Oversight,

Anonymous said...

Please note: The election that is coming is MUNICIPAL and has nothing whatsoever to do with CAS or CCAS.

The Provincial ELECTION is 2 years away.

Anonymous said...

Go get' em, Andre !:

August 4, 2006
Marin's 'vox populi'

Andre Marin admits he's made few friends since he became the province's crusading watchdog, battling bureaucratic bafflegab and government bungling at every turn. His take-no-prisoners approach to some high-profile issues has caused quite a stink in civil service circles.

"You are very much a skunk at a garden party, but you don't strive to be popular. You strive to be credible, to be taken seriously," Marin said in a frank, wide-ranging interview this week.

The fearless former Crown attorney, military watchdog and one-time head of the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is no newcomer to controversy. He's ruffled feathers before with his tireless defence of the underdog.

Since he took over as Ontario's Ombudsman 16 months ago, he's tackled such high-profile issues as the botched property assessment system to help for children with special needs.

A graduate of University of Ottawa's law school, Marin always wanted to defend the underdog.

"I always thought what I wanted to do was to be a strong voice for the public interest," Marin said. He was drawn to the SIU because the agency has a tough task -- investigating police.

"It's also an organization that can be prone to intimidation or easily recoil under the pressure of the public glare," he said.

One of Marin's pet peeves is what he calls "rulitis" -- that annoying habit some civil servants have of sticking too closely to the letter of the rules without considering the spirit in which they were made. Sometimes bureaucrats and civil servants get so tied up in red tape that the little guy gets forgotten.

"It becomes a reflex to say, 'All the rules were followed,'" Marin said. "Well, maybe the rules don't make sense."

Phrases like, "We can't do that because it will create a precedent," irk him as well. "Maybe you need a precedent. I think complacency is the biggest enemy.

"In many senses, this office is the conscience of the public service. We are there to remind them, 'hold on, did you think of this, did you think of that?'"

Marin is also frustrated about the scope of his mandate (something he also chafed against in his military role). He points out that 80% of tax revenues go to private organizations to deliver services, yet he has no oversight over them.

He can't probe school boards, hospitals or the CAS -- and he would dearly like to take on all those organizations.

"What's happened over the past 30 years is that the provincial government privatizes and downloads to municipalities," he says. "Every time it does that, we are losing the ability to help people with their problems.

"Talk about an area that spends billions of dollars of provincial funds," he points out. "If you have a complaint about a hospital, where do you go? Nowhere."

And much as he'd make a star candidate with a reputation as an honest broker, Marin has no plans to go into politics. He likes to make a difference in people's lives -- and the Ombudsman role is the best way to do that, he says.

"I consider this to be my calling. This is ultimately what I want to do. I enjoy it."

Almost two years ago, in November 2004, Ontario bureaucrats suggested eliminating the Ombudsman's job as a cost-saving measure. Marin believes that by tackling thorny issues -- and getting results -- he can earn a stay of execution for the position.

So far, he's been successful. Recently, in response to one of his most controversial reports, the province announced a freeze in property assessments.

"A lot of these people who are aggrieved, they don't have well-heeled, well-funded, well-oiled machines to make a point. That's where a strong Ombudsman's office can be their biggest advocate for fairness."

He's most proud of an award he won in a 60-year-old case he took on as Armed Forces ombudsman on behalf of 3,500 veterans who had been part of toxic weapons testing, mostly during World War II.

Soldiers were exposed to chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Suffield, Alberta. Many of them suffered respiratory diseases, skin conditions -- even cancer as a result.

In 2004, Marin released a report calling it a "blot on our history," and the federal government responded with a $24,000 payment to each veteran or his beneficiary.

"The federal government treated that as a sacrosanct war secret to the extent that none of them ever got a penny, until they were in their 80s and came to the office," he recalls. "I heard their case and said, 'we're going to deal with it and you're going to get some money.'

"They (the vets) looked at me, gave me a slap on the back and said, 'Keep on dreaming sonny boy.'"

Instead, he -- and they -- won. That's the kind of difference Marin likes to make. A group that had spent the better part of 60 years mustering support in legion halls across the country finally had their plight acknowledged in a tangible fashion.

More recently, he took the greatest satisfaction from a report his Ombudsman's office released on newborn testing that revealed 50 babies a year are disabled or die in Ontario because they are not tested at birth for preventable and treatable conditions.

"Can you imagine losing your baby because we were operating in a context that was below Third World countries in a city like Toronto?" he asks.

In the wake of that report, Health Minister George Smitherman announced the government would increase the number of diseases for which it screens to 21.

Marin says he's worried about new legislation that allows municipalities to appoint their own ombudsmen, pointing out they can even appoint a civil servant to the position. He says municipalities don't have enough money to fund an effective watchdog.

"Don't turn it into a ridiculous dog and pony show," he warns. "They (the municipalities) will say, "Look, it will be just like having Andre Marin. Do we want that?"

A skunk at a garden party? Not really. More like a breath of fresh air in the murky corridors of provincial power.

Anonymous said...

What's happened over the past 30 years is that the provincial government privatizes and downloads to municipalities," he says. "Every time it does that, we are losing the ability to help people with their problems.

yes the next vote does matter get out and speak to everyone you can

Anonymous said...

What's happened over the past 30 years is that the provincial government privatizes and downloads to municipalities," he says. "Every time it does that, we are losing the ability to help people with their problems.

yes the next vote does matter get out and speak to everyone you can

Anonymous said...


August 8, 2006
For Immediate Release:

The Ombudsman of Ontario, André Marin, will hold a press conference to release his findings and recommendations following an investigation into the Family Responsibility Office titled It’s All in a Name.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 9, 2006
10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Legislature Media Studio
1st Floor, West Wing
Queen’s Park

- 30 -

For information, contact:
Gail Scala
Manager, Communications
Ombudsman Ontario
Tel: 416-586-3402

Anonymous said...

While politicians are on holidays it is good that the media is keeping CAS oversight an issue over the summer. Let us not forget that little angel or what can be done to chane the CAS. Here is a letter in support of the Ombudsman in the Toronto Sun today.

Awesome ombudsman

Re “Marin’s Vox Populi,” (Christina Blizzard, Aug. 4): Andre Marin is one of the best Ombudsman that Ontario has ever seen. He has been asking for oversight of the CAS for months, and is supported by various groups and individuals. Many politicians do not seem to be taking CAS accountability seriously, and in doing so they are failing all children. It is long overdue that the CAS, and other organizations had responsible oversight. Mr. Marin is a gem, and it only makes sense that his dedication, honesty and perseverance to the underdog be directed to our most vulnerable.

Anne Patterson


Anonymous said...

While politicians are on holidays it is good that the media is keeping CAS oversight an issue over the summer. Let us not forget that little angel or what can be done to change the CAS. Here is a letter in support of the Ombudsman in the Toronto Sun today.

Awesome ombudsman

Re “Marin’s Vox Populi,” (Christina Blizzard, Aug. 4): Andre Marin is one of the best Ombudsman that Ontario has ever seen. He has been asking for oversight of the CAS for months, and is supported by various groups and individuals. Many politicians do not seem to be taking CAS accountability seriously, and in doing so they are failing all children. It is long overdue that the CAS, and other organizations had responsible oversight. Mr. Marin is a gem, and it only makes sense that his dedication, honesty and perseverance to the underdog be directed to our most vulnerable.

Anne Patterson


Anonymous said...

This blog is dying a slow death. It's important that you keep oversight of CAS in the limelight. Without public pressure nothing will happen.

Anonymous said...

Problems persist
Welland Tribune (ON)
Wed 09 Aug 2006
Page: A5
Section: Local/Region
Byline: James Wallace
Source: Osprey News Network
Ontario's Ombudsman is expected to issue yet another scathing indictment of the province's problem-plagued Family Responsibility Office at a press conference today.

The Ombudsman's office has repeatedly highlighted numerous shortcomings within the provincial body charged with ensuring dead- beat parents pay support bills.

Government sources told Osprey News yesterday that significant problems continue to persist despite repeated warnings from the Ombudsman and elsewhere.

In the report being released today, Ombudsman Andre Marin will reveal details of his systemic investigation into the Family Responsibility Office.

Those details will likely include concerns that the office is "careless and negligent" in the work it does and is substantially failing to carry out its duty to enforce court-ordered support payments.

Such concerns have been repeatedly reflected in past reports.

In fact, as far back as 1994 former Ombudsman Clare Lewis reported the office failed to enforce court-ordered support payments and effectively pushed some single parents and their children onto welfare.

"One of my greatest disappointments in my term of office is that after almost five years, I'm still unable to report to the public that the FRO has implemented a more efficient computer system and improved its service delivery," Lewis said in 1994 while commenting on technological problems within the office.

"I have no doubt that my successor will be reporting here next year and the year after on matters to deal with the Family Responsibility Office," he said.

Fathers who pay support, meanwhile, have complained repeatedly and bitterly that the family responsibility office fails to process cheques and money orders they write in a timely manner, resulting in wrongful default findings, fines and hardship for parents who are owed money.

The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) has broad authority to garnishee bank accounts, seize lottery winnings, suspend driver's licences and use private collection agencies to track down parents who try to avoid paying support or haul them into court.

Some $1.32 billion in support payments remain outstanding and $210 million is owed taxpayers for welfare payments made to families and children that were due support.

Madeleine Meilleur, the Minister of Community and Social Services, recently announced government plans to "cut through the red tape" at the office to ensure family support payments are made in a way that is fair to all parents.

"We're on the side of Ontario families who want the best for their children," Meilleur said in a release. "That's why we're implementing changes that will make the family support payment process more equitable for all parents - those paying support and those receiving it."

The changes gave officials at the office flexibility to change support orders with the consent of both parties without requiring immediate court approval.

The government is also phasing in legislation passed in 2004 that gives stronger enforcement authority to the FRO and doubles the maximum jail term for failure to comply with court orders to 180 days.

James Wallace is the Queen's Park bureau chief for the Osprey News Network. Contact the writer at:

© 2006 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

• marin

Anonymous said...

The Toronto Sun
Wed 09 Aug 2006
Page: 5
Section: News
A wide-ranging report on problems within the provincial agency that ensures spousal- and child-support orders are paid is expected today from the Ontario ombudsman.

The report by Ombudsman Andre Marin will look at improving enforcement within the Family Responsibility Office, said Barbara Finlay, an official with the watchdog.

The agency, which has been under the ombudsman's scrutiny before, makes sure that support orders issued by Ontario courts are fully paid.

"The ombudsman was dealing with an individual complaint," said Finlay, who refused to give details on the report in advance of Marin's announcement, scheduled for this morning at Queen's Park.

"But the findings build on that complaint and are wider-ranging ... similar to the MPAC report," she said.

Last March, Marin issued a scathing report on the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. -- the agency that determines values on which property taxes are based -- making 22 recommendations to make it less of a "cloak-and-dagger" operation.

The report, which eventually led the provincial government to freeze assessments for two years so that improvements could be made, was also sparked by a single complaint.

© 2006 Sun Media Corporation. All rights reserved.

Anonymous said...

Ontario's Family Responsibility Office Dropped the Ball in Collecting Delinquent Child Support
Wed 09 Aug 2006
Time: 10:31 AM
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 9, 2006) - In his most recent report titled, "Its All in the Name," Ontario's Ombudsman Andre Marin found that the Ontario Family Responsibility Office needs to accept greater responsibility for ensuring that the rights of Ontario's Families are protected in the enforcement of support orders.

The Ombudsman found in his investigation, that the enforcement office failed to warn a father who was owed child support arrears that a Writ of Seizure and Sale it had registered against the property of the delinquent support payor, his former wife, was useless because it was in the wrong name.

"The Family Responsibility Office dropped the ball" Mr. Marin commented. "Its practices have cost the complainant at least $2422.00 - money which should have gone to feed and clothe his son. He should be compensated for his loss and systems should be put in place to prevent this from happening again.

"Sadly this case reflects the very malaise which is all too prevalent among government bureaucrats. Administrators have taken a wooden view of their rules and obligations and forgotten that they are dealing with real people."

The Ombudsman noted that the Family Responsibility Office could not rely on the defense that it had followed its own internal policies and procedures, when it allowed the worthless enforcement Writ to be filed and did not warn the support recipient that they would need to get a new court order so that a new Writ could be filed, if they wanted to be able to collect on the back support owed.

"The Family Responsibility Office was content just to sit back and lead the support recipient on. It neglected its fiduciary responsibility and displayed a cavalier attitude towards an individual it was duty-bound to serve," remarked Mr. Marin. "It is no answer to the complaint that ineffective policies and procedures were followed."

The Ombudsman rejected the Family Responsibility Office's argument that it was a "neutral" agency which had no obligation to advise support recipients that enforcement Writs may be useless to collect money owed in arrears if the support payor has changed their name.

"One does not have to be rehearsed in the law of government fiduciary obligations to know that this kind of attitude and behaviour is malodorous." Mr. Marin commented "Those charged with the enforcement of support orders must accept that they have a duty to act in the best interest of those who the support was intended for.

"It is evident to me that a cultural change is required in the way the Family Responsibility Office views its role. Its passive "hands off" approach must be replaced by a proactive, common sense, and good faith attitude towards support recipients."

The Ombudsman's report contains five recommendations including that the Family Responsibility Office change its policy and procedures to inform recipients about the use of Writs of Seizure and Sale where support payors may have changed their name or use different names and that legislative changes be made to ensure more effective enforcement of support obligations.

This press release is available in French

The Ombudsman is an officer of the Legislature and is independent of both the political process and government administration. Generally an office of last resort, the Ombudsman investigates and resolves complaints about provincial governmental organizations and recommends corrective action. Services are free and confidential. Other languages can be arranged. For further information, call 416-586-3300, TTY 1-866-411-4211 or visit our website:


"It's All in the Name"

Ombudsman investigation into complaint of the Family Responsibility Office's ineffective enforcement using a Writ of Seizure and Sale

The Ombudsman's Investigation and Findings

The Ombudsman found that the Family Responsibility Office (the FRO) had acted unreasonably when it failed to inform a father that a Writ of Seizure and Sale to collect arrears of child support for his son, which had been filed against the property of his former wife, could not be enforced because it was in the wrong name. The Writ was in the former wife's name as it appeared on the court order requiring her to pay child support to the father and she had since remarried and had used a different name to register her property.

Both the father and the FRO were aware that the former wife was using a different name but no one told the father that he might want to get a new court order so a new Writ could be issued. This was despite the fact that the father had repeatedly advised the FRO that his former wife was about to sell her property and had sought and received their assurance that a Writ was in place so he could collect on the unpaid support monies. As a result of the problem with the Writ, the father was unable to recoup $2,422.00, which he could have gotten from the proceeds when his former wife sold her property.

The Ombudsman found that both the FRO's conduct in this individual case and its policies and procedures relating to the use of Writs of Seizure and Sale were unreasonable, noting that the FRO routinely neglected to inform support recipients that a Writ of Seizure and Sale would not be enforceable to collect support arrears if the support payor has changed their name and has a different name registered on their property. The Ombudsman did not accept the FRO's explanations that it was not obligated to provide this information to support recipients because it was a "neutral" agency or that providing the information would violate the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or amount to providing legal advice to support recipients.

The Ombudsman also found that the FRO owes support recipients an obligation to act in their best interests, given its legislated mandate to enforce support orders. The government, he noted, by assuming the role it has through the FRO, is obliged whether by law or simple notions of fairness to use its powers in good faith, with appropriate standards of care, and in the best interests of those lawfully entitled to support.

The Ombudsman's Recommendations

The Ombudsman recommended that the FRO pay compensation in the amount of $2,422.00 to the father, which represents the amount which he could have collected from the proceeds of the sale of his former wife's home if the Writ had been enforced. He also recommended that the FRO change its policy and procedures so that support recipients are advised of the possibility that a Writ may not be enforceable if the support payor has changed their name or uses a different name, in order to allow them to protect their interests and attempt to obtain an amended court order and new Writ. In addition he recommended that legislative changes be considered to ensure that Writs of Seizure and Sale can be more effectively and efficiently enforced when support payors who are in arrears change their name or use different names.

The Minister of Community and Social Services responded to the Ombudsman's report noting that the Ministry takes the concerns it identified very seriously. On behalf of the Minister and the Ministry, the FRO accepted all 5 of the Ombudsman's recommendations including agreeing to pay compensation to the complainant. The FRO also undertook to report back to the Ombudsman in six months time on the implementation of all of the recommendations.

The Family Responsibility Office

With a budget of over 48 million dollars, the Family Responsibility Office enforces support obligations on behalf of approximately 185,000 families in Ontario. According to the Family Responsibility Office's records, as of March 31, 2006, over $1.3 billion in support arrears remained uncollected; including almost $200 million representing money owed to Government as a result of social assistance payments to support families of delinquent support payors.

Court-ordered support must be enforced through the Family Responsibility Office. While there are some circumstances in which individuals can "opt out" of this enforcement program, of necessity, the vast majority of support recipients are completely dependent on the Family Responsibility Office to ensure that they receive the support they are entitled to.

The Family Responsibility Office has historically experienced administrative problems, which it attributed to an antiquated computer system. An overhaul of the Office's computer and case management system is not scheduled to begin until November 2006.



Office of the Ombudsman
Gail Scala
Manager, Communications
(416) 586-3402

Anonymous said...


22 January, 2003

CAS defied order to return boy
Prescott and Russell branch, worker guilty of contempt; thought it
was in child's interests

The Children's Aid Society of Prescott and Russell
and one of its workers have been found guilty of
contempt of court for not returning a two-year-old
boy to his parents despite a judge ordering them to
do so. They will be sentenced next month.

The lawyers who successfully prosecuted the
contempt charge on behalf of the child's parents,
who live in Hawkesbury, but cannot be identified in
order to protect the identity of the child, believe this
is a judicial first.

The society and its worker, Marie-Claude Belanger,
were convicted last week after Ontario Superior
Court Justice Michel Charbonneau found they
deliberately didn't return the child, without legal
justification, after a judge ordered them to do so
following a five-day trial in October 2003. They said
they thought they were acting in the child's best

Julie Bergeron, who represented the mother, said she
and the father's lawyer, Jocelyne Paquette-Landry,
haven't decided on what sentence they will ask the
judge to impose because they can find no precedent.
A stiff fine for the organization and community
work for Ms. Belanger is her best guess at the

Whatever the eventual sentence Judge Charbonneau
passes, however, Ms. Bergeron said she hopes it's
strong enough to send the message that this type of
behaviour is never acceptable.

"The judge's order was and I still don't understand
why they didn't return the child," Bergeron said.
"You have to respect court orders for the system to

In his reasons for conviction, Judge Charbonneau
was even more explicit than Ms. Bergeron.

"Rulings of the court must be respected and obeyed
because the community has chosen democratically to
give the courts the mandate to deal with these
matters," he said. "The survival of our democratic
society and good public order depends on this."

Raymond Lemay, director of the CAS in Prescott
and Russell, said at all times the worker and the
society did the things they did because they felt it
was in the best interests of the child, and that an
appeal may be launched.

"We're consulting our lawyers, and reviewing the
decision to see if there are grounds for an appeal," he
said. He added that Ms. Belanger was simply
following orders by not returning the child. "She
didn't act on her own. We, as an organization, take
full responsibility for what went on, and what will
happen as a result."

The boy was born in April 2001. His parents are in
their 30s. They earn modest salaries, but alcohol
abuse is a concern for both. The boy was taken from
his parents in November 2002 due to these concerns,
and from then until March 2003, the parents were
permitted three visits of three hours per week.

In March, the society cut the visits to one three-hour
period a week and decided it would ask a court to
order the boy be made a permanent ward of the state
and put up for adoption.

In October, a five-day trial was held in which the
society brought evidence to show the parents were
hopeless drunks, prone to violence, who should
never be allowed to see their boy again. The parents'
lawyers argued the boy should be returned.

On Oct. 24, a Friday, the judge ruled the child
should be returned to the parents no later than the
next day. He found the child still needed protection
and ordered the society to supervise the parents for
one year on conditions. Before the judge finished the
decision, the CAS lawyers asked that the judge make
an inspection of the parents' home a condition of the
child's return.

The judge heard the argument and decided against
this. Outside the court after the ruling, Ms. Belanger
asked the parents to submit to an inspection.

They refused, then went to dinner where they
consumed some alcohol.

At roughly 9 a.m. the next morning, Ms. Belanger,
accompanied by fellow worker Micheline
Surprenant, showed up at the parents' home without
the child and proceeded to do an inspection.

In an affidavit filed in court, Ms. Belanger says
essentially the house was an unhealthy, dangerous
wreck. She notes mildew everywhere, broken
windows, dirty dishes, no fresh food and general
filth, among other things.

After the unauthorized inspection, she left and
discussed the alleged situation with her supervisor,
Francine Groulx, who made the decision to proceed
with a reapprehension of the child.

Ms. Belanger then got two police officers to come
with her to inform the parents that they wouldn't be
getting their boy back until all the conditions she
imposed were met.

In their affidavits, the parents say the house wasn't
100 per cent and they needed a few things, but that
Ms. Belanger's description of conditions was grossly
exaggerated. Still, they went out that day and bought
a number of things, including a new bed for the boy,
did some minor repairs on cupboards and cleaned.

The next day, they called Ms. Belanger and told her
everything was done and to come over to check. Ms.
Belanger came the next day, a Monday, this time
with two police officers and a municipal building
inspector, checked out the place and told the parents
she'd get back to them.

After this, the parents called their lawyers, who put
together a notice of contempt motion and served it
on the society the next day. After getting the notice,
Ms. Belanger met with her supervisor, and they
decided to return the child.

At contempt hearings for knowingly breaching court
orders where it is clear the orders were breached,
lawful justification is the only defence, so that's what
lawyers representing the society and Ms. Belanger

Judge Charbonneau rejected this and concluded Ms.
Belanger and the society didn't like the judge's order
sending the boy back to his parents and set out to
find reasons not to obey it.

What led him to the conclusion, he said were, among
other things: the fact the society didn't bring up the
state of the house at the original trial; the police
officers, municipal building inspector, and two other
workers who saw the house didn't testify to
corroborate Ms. Belanger's findings that the house
was unfit; many of the findings were minor in the
extreme; the child wasn't returned until after the
parents' lawyers gave notice of contempt; and Ms.
Belanger showed up unannounced at the house
without the child.

"Ms. Belanger undoubtedly believed she had to
disobey the order to protect the child, but one must
not forget there-were specific reasons for the order,"
Judge Charbonneau said.

"Everyone will agree that the system of child
protection ... can only function if court orders are
strictly observed. It's essential to the whole system,
and consequently it is essential to the protection of

"If a worker or society can overlook an order
because it believes an order isn't in the interests of
the child, the whole system is compromised."

After this, he said with reluctance he-convicted Ms.
Belanger and the Children's Aid Society of Prescott
and Russell of knowingly disobeying a court order
without lawful excuse.

No date has been set for sentencing.

Anonymous said...

Deadbeat parents getting free ride: Ont. watchdog
Updated Wed. Aug. 9 2006 2:51 PM ET

Canadian Press

TORONTO -- A name change that kept a man from collecting child support is just the latest in routine "carelessness'' at the office tasked with collecting from deadbeat parents, Ontario's ombudsman said Wednesday.

Andre Marin called on the province to take action after finding the Family Responsibility Office is "inept'' and has a "lackadaisical'' attitude when it comes to collecting outstanding child support.

He wants the provincial government to fix the system -- which was set up a decade ago to enforce court-awarded support orders -- because "deadbeats have been having a free ride for too long.''

"This can't go on,'' said Marin, who released a report on the issue Wednesday.

"There's got to be a point where we agree either the government can pull up its socks and do it right, or we look at other options.''

Marin said other options could include turning to a private collection agency to make sure parents pay the child support set out by courts.

In reviewing the office's records, Marin found that as of March 2005, over $1.3 billion in child support remains uncollected.

As a result, the government is paying out nearly $200 million in social assistance "because enforcement is not vigorous enough,'' said Marin.

"That's a lot of money,'' he added.

Marin's report was based on the case of a father, identified as Mr. F, who was unable to collect support because the office used the wrong name in filing a writ of seizure against his former wife's house.

She was able to pocket $20,000 in profits from a house sale because she changed her name back to its maiden form, rendering the legal documents useless.

Anonymous said...

August 10, 2006
Deadbeat bureaucrats?
Parents owing child support get 'free ride' from province: Report

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin speaks to the media yesterday in Toronto after unveiling his report on the Family Responsibility Office, which he blasted for being "too laid back." (Joe O'Connal SUN)
TORONTO -- The provincial office in charge of collecting support payments from deadbeat parents needs an attitude change and a complete overhaul of how it does business, Ombudsman Andre Marin says.

The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) has been in place for over a decade and has continuously been the bane of the provincial watchdog, he said yesterday during the unveiling of his scathing report.

"FRO is lackadaisical in its approach, is too laid back," Marin charged. "And its approach has resulted in over a billion dollars not being pursued properly and the government being indebted to the tune of $200 million."

Marin found that the province had to pay out that money in social assistance to parents and children not receiving court-ordered support while parents under those orders are $1.35 billion in arrears as of March 2005.


"Deadbeats in this province have been having a free ride on the backs of the citizens of Ontario," he said.

Marin's report was based on the case of Michael F., who asked his last name not be used. He was unable to collect support because the FRO used the wrong name in filing a writ of seizure against his ex-wife's house.

She was able to keep $20,000 because she changed her name, leaving the FRO documents useless.

Michael, who spoke at Queen's Park yesterday after Marin's announcement, said his former spouse is still about $7,000 in arrears on support payments for their son.

"It's obviously affected my son," he said, adding his wife still had regular contact with their son. "I had every intention of using the money from this writ to get braces for him."

Marin said employees of the FRO would offer the "unseemly excuse" that vigorous enforcement was not their department or that the office had to remain neutral.

The ombudsman said it was another example of "rule-itis" -- "where the slavish and blind adherence to rules is done at the expense of common sense."

Officials at FRO have also argued they are improving their performance but Marin said it isn't good enough to go from dismal to mediocre.

"What I consider to be baby steps in improvements are being touted by the FRO as monumental leaps in progress," he said.

"Look at the bottom line, the amount in arrears and the amount this is costing the government."

Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur said the government knew the FRO needed an overhaul.

The FRO has been directed to review its current policies and procedures as part of an ongoing plan implemented when the Liberal government took power almost three years ago, Meilleur said.

"It's a four-year plan. We still have improvements to make. We're going to do it," she said.

If the problems of the office cannot be fixed, Marin suggested it might be time to look at other more cost-effective ways of getting the FRO's job done -- including privatization.

"This can't go on," he said. "There's got to be a point where we agree either government can pull up its socks and do it right or we look at other options."

Anonymous said...

Deadbeat dilemma
Chatham Daily News (ON)
Sat 12 Aug 2006
Page: A9
Section: Opinion
Ontario's ombudsman chastised the province's Family Responsibility Office this week for being "inept" and having a "lackadaisical" attitude when working to collect from deadbeat parents.

The provincial government must quickly act to alter the horrible mentality at the office. To do anything less would be an outrage, and add further insult to the single parents who now act as both mother and father when raising their children, and who have been betrayed by the system.

Most of us know cases of deadbeat parents, whether they involve a friend or a family member whose ex-spouse had dodged on child support. Often, the dodger was the higher income earner of the two spouses when they were a family. After breakup, some bitterness can lead to men and women skipping out on the financial responsibility of supporting their children.

To have people basically aiding and abetting such deadbeat actions is terrible. For those people to be paid by our tax dollars - including from taxes collected from the single parents waiting for child support from a deadbeat spouse - is reprehensible.

It's not that Family Responsibility Office staff are deliberately trying to hide the deadbeats, but any carelessness, as ombudsman Andre Marin says regularly occurs there, cannot be tolerated. As of March 2005, deadbeats in this province owed their exes more than $1.3 billion in support.

Such woeful results have led to more people relying on social assistance -Marin estimates to the tune of $200 million.

The Family Responsibility Office was created a decade ago to enforce court-mandated support orders. But when a simple name change allowed a woman to escape paying child support - she pocketed $20,000 on the sale of her home even though she was in arrears in terms of paying child support to her ex - it's obvious the effort isn't there.

The province has lobbed more money at the office - $40 million over four years - in an effort to rectify matters. Complaints have dropped, but the $1.3 billion in uncollected deadbeat dollars remains a glaring sign of continued failure.

For anyone not giving 100 per cent to their job in tracking down deadbeat parents, we remind them to take a look at the name of their department. You have a responsibility to these families. Don't take it lightly. Otherwise, you could be out of a job as the province may hand over duties to a private collections firm.

Anonymous said...

Righting the wrongs of big bureaucracy
St. Catharines Standard (ON)
Mon 14 Aug 2006
Page: A6
Section: Viewpoint
Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has been having some fun with provincial government agencies of late.

Shortly after ripping a strip off the Municipal Property Assessment Corp., and rightly so, Marin took aim at the much- maligned Family Responsibility Office.

The funny thing is, many of the criticisms Marin used to describe the FRO - like it's conflicted, and has an attitude problem and is wooden - are also fitting descriptions of MPAC.

It makes one wonder if there are as serious problems among the other government agencies in this province.

But we digress.

Marin's damning report of the FRO raises serious questions about the agency responsible for administering child support payments for separated and divorced families.

And the complaints don't just stem from custodial parents who aren't getting support payments.

There are concerns from non-custodial parents who dutifully make their payments, but experience difficulties getting the money through the FRO to the child.

If nothing else, this report should compel the province into action.

In the wake of the report, Community and Social Service Minister Madeleine Meilleur committed to review the document, but quickly added the province has pumped $40 million in the FRO over the past four years.

If that's the case, we'd suggest it hasn't been money well spent.

Despite Meilleur's claims of reduced wait times for payments, improved service and more efficient efforts to gain arrears, Marin found just 70 per cent of the orders filed with the FRO are compliant.

He also estimated deadbeat parents owe an all-time high of $1.35 billion in arrears.

That number is staggering, and has had an effect on the province's social service infrastructure.

Without support payments coming in, some parents have had to resort to welfare which has added $200 million to what is doled out in social assistance.

With a recent Supreme Court ruling holding up the principle of enforcing support orders, it's imperative the province take every step possible to improve the operation of the FRO.

And if it means deconstructing the entire office and starting from scratch, so be it.

The function of government bureaucracies is to serve the people of this province, and as in the case of MPAC, that seems to have been lost on the FRO.

NDP critic Michael Prue called the FRO a "billion-dollar mess" and called for a complete audit of the agency.

That's a good place to start.

Opposition Leader John Tory said someone has to be accountable and lose their job for the fact $1.35 billion in arrears is uncollected.

Another good point.

For the sake of our social services and, more importantly, for the sake of our children, it's time the structure intended to process support payments worked.

We'd suggest Meilleur do more than review Marin's report.

He has identified some real problems.

It's time for some real solutions.

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Anonymous said...

Bureaucracy lets kids suffer
Charles Dickens' Department of Circumlocution is alive and well and living at Queen's Park.

Dickens dreamed up the facetious department as a vicious satire of bureaucracy: the way it passes the buck, makes us run in circles, observes arcane rules that make no sense, thwarts all reason and generally makes life miserable.

Its latest incarnation is the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), responsible for enforcing child-support payment orders in Ontario. A recent report by provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin would make Dickens wince.

As of March 2005, parents were in arrears by $1.35 billion, Marin reported. The province has had to kick in $200 million in social assistance to the parents who are getting stiffed.

The FRO is afflicted by "rule-itis," Marin reported, "where the slavish and blind adherence to rules is done at the expense of common sense."

It would be comic if it weren't for the cost in human misery. The victims of this bureaucratic incompetence are divorced and separated parents and their children, some forced to live in poverty while their estranged or former spouses pocket the child-support money.

The FRO has been in existence for more than 10 years and has a long record of failure. The Liberals, when in opposition, railed against its bungling.

Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur says the agency is under review -- a review that has been dragging on since the Liberals took power three years ago.

"What I consider to be baby steps in improvements are being touted by the FRO as monumental leaps in progress," Marin said.

The agency told him they should agree to disagree.

"That of course is not where I chose to go," Marin said.

He said if all else fails, the office should be privatized. That could be a good option.

Governments provide essential services that benefit the entire public. When they fail to do so, they lend aid to those who would dismantle government services piece by piece.

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Anonymous said...

Another Ont. board to undergo ombudsman probe
CanWest News Service
Wed 23 Aug 2006
Byline: April Lindgren
Dateline: TORONTO
Source: CanWest News Service
TORONTO - The Ontario agency that awards compensation to crime victims is expected to be the subject of a special investigation to be announced today.

Provincial ombudsman Andre Marin's probe into how the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board goes about its business will be his seventh special investigation since his April 2005 appointment by the Liberals.

An official in Marin's office refused to confirm the identity of his latest probe, but noted ``he is concerned that (this) could be yet another example of a government agency's failure to meet its obligations.''

Conservative legislature member Bob Runciman said he has information indicating the board may have a backlog of as many as 10,000 cases.

``People get into a queue and they are there forever,'' he said. ``It's a bureaucratic morass. They aren't dealing with victims in a timely or a fair way.''

The board, with a 2004-2005 budget of about $21 million, is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that provides compensation to innocent victims of crimes of violence. Awards are made to victims who have suffered physical or psychological injuries, the dependents of deceased victims and people who are injured while trying to prevent a crime or assist police.

Board spokesperson Patricia Fiorini said Tuesday it takes more than two years to process a claim from start to finish and the average award is between $6,500 and $7,000.

In 2004-2005, the board accepted 2,654 applications and denied 143. A total of 4,157 applications were received over the course of the year.

The board and its role in compensating crime victims made headlines in the spring after news of an usual plea bargain became public in Toronto. The terms of the deal required the four men charged in the shooting of an innocent victim to pay her as much as $2.5 million. Louise Russo was left paralysed following the April 2004 shooting at a Toronto sandwich shop.

Critics at the time attacked the deal, saying the Crown shouldn't be negotiating deals that link financial payments and prison sentences.

Ontario's provisions for compensating the victims of crime also came under fire for being too low.

CanWest News Service

Anonymous said...

Ombud orders probe of victims' fund
Long delays cited in a number of complaints
Aug. 23, 2006. 01:20 PM

Ontario’s ombudsman is launching a special investigation into the province’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which he says has been the subject of an increasing number of complaints during the past five years.
Victims of crime in Ontario are awarded on average about $7,200 in compensation by the board, which has an annual budget of $21 million.

But some crime victims have complained that it took years before they ever saw any money from the board, and many felt they were treated as if they’d done something wrong by even applying for compensation, Morin said Wednesday.

“Delays are a huge issue, according to complainants to our office,” he said. “Delays that are measured not in days or weeks, but in months and years.”

The provincial board adjudicates about 2,500 cases a year — about half the number of cases it receives — and Marin said he wants to know if that means the backlog of cases is doubling every year, creating even longer delays.

“Some allege they were treated shabbily by this agency, that they felt as if they were ripping off the system and they were crooks,” he said.

“Some people tell us that it had taken them years to get to the hearing, and then it took years to get a decision.”

Others allege victims of crime are re-victimized as they go through the drawn-out process of seeking compensation from the board, Morin said.

“They’re normal, productive people in society for the most part who become the victim of a violent crime and their life changes forever,” he said.

“They don’t come to this board as capricious, eccentric characters looking for the state to carry them. They’re looking for some help to get through some hurdles that life has thrown in front of them.”

Marin said he has not reached any conclusions about whether or not the complaints are justified, which is why he launched a special investigation.

He’s encouraging anyone who has information of relevance to the investigation to call the ombudsman’s office or visit the website at

The Attorney General’s office, which is responsible for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, was expected to issue a response to Morin’s announcement later Wednesday.

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Anonymous said...

The Toronto Star
Mon 28 Aug 2006
Page: A01
Section: News
Byline: Rob Ferguson
Source: Toronto Star

Ontario to speed $25M to disabled

Also ran in: Kitchener-Waterloo Record, Hamilton Spectator

Cheques totalling $25 million will start going out in November to thousands
of disabled Ontarians left impoverished by backlogs in government support
payments, the Toronto Star has learned.

The plan, approved at a provincial cabinet meeting last week, comes less
than three months after provincial Ombudsman Andre Marin slammed the
Ministry of Community and Social Services for the long- standing problem.

Troubles with the Ontario Disability Support Plan left many applicants
relying on food banks.

The government has determined about 19,000 people are owed money, although
only 13,000 are currently in the ministry's computer system, said Community
and Social Services Minister Madeleine Meilleur.

The remaining 6,000 will have to be tracked down.

"I'm confident we will be able to reach most of them," Meilleur said in an
interview from Ottawa. The difficulty is that 6,000 cases were from before
2002 when the system was not computerized. The ministry is hiring more staff
and devoting 20 experienced employees to tracking down the older cases and
reviewing the claims.

Letters will be sent to last known addresses, the new program will be
promoted on the Internet and phone lines set up.

"We want it to be done right," said Meilleur, adding it will take more than
two months to make the first payments because a computer program must be
developed, tested and implemented.

The government's reaction is well ahead of a year-end deadline set by the
ombudsman's office.

"It's certainly a pleasant surprise," said Marin. "They moved with blazing
speed. It'll make a huge difference in these peoples' lives."

Marin's report detailed several troublesome cases, including one man who
couldn't afford enough food or winter boots for his 10-year- old girl
because the province delayed and underpaid the disability support owed him
after a serious back injury.

Ontario spends $2.4 billion a year on support payments for more than 215,000
citizens with severe physical and mental disabilities. The maximum payout is
$959 monthly for a single person.

The problem has been that it was taking bureaucrats an average of eight
months to process applications for disability support payments. That
conflicted with what Marin dubbed a "morally repugnant" rule implemented in
1998 stating the government would pay only four months of retroactive

The backlog meant people who were entitled to benefits couldn't get them
retroactively because of the long waiting list. The four-month rule was
suspended on May 31, the day Marin released his scathing report.

With the average wait now down to six months for processing applications,
approved cases are now getting retroactive payments more quickly, Meilleur

Efforts are continuing to get the backlog below four months by the end of
the year, including a new database enabling staff to review applications for
support more quickly, the hiring of another medical adviser to help decide
on claims and overtime for staff who have cleared more than 3,000
applications since February.

It's hoped the 19,000 people entitled to retroactive payments will get their
money within nine months, said Meilleur.

Anonymous said...

The Toronto Sun
Mon 28 Aug 2006
Page: 20
Section: Editorial/Opinion
Column: Editorial


Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has an instinct for sniffing out injustice,
befitting his role as "Ontario's watchdog."

So it's welcome news -- and no surprise -- that his latest target for
investigtion is an agency facing numerous complaints from the very crime
victims it is supposed to help.

Marin announced last week he is launching a systemic investigation into the
Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, after his office received a wave of
complaints from individual crime victims and victims' groups.

"Some allege they were treated shabbily by this agency, that they felt as if
they were ripping off the system and they were crooks, Marin told The
Canadian Press, noting complaints often take years to process and leave
people feeling revictimized.

The Ombudsman rightly stressed that he has "not reached any conclusion about
whether or not these complaints in this paper are justified" (the probe will
last until the end of the year). But after reporting on similar complaints
for years, we're confident an overhaul of the board and its policies is in

Even Attorney General Michael Bryant, to whom the 35-year-old board reports,
acknowledges "its ability to serve victims of crime in the way they deserve
needs to be updated."

Bryant has heard the same concerns from victims' advocates that we have.
Among them, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, whose public safety
director John Muise wrote in the Sun in April: "Our Criminal Injuries
Compensation Board is hopelessly backlogged, pays a pittance, sometimes
takes years to pay out, and during that arduous process, often offends,
frustrates and revictimizes crime victims."

Even victims well-versed in the system have hit a wall with the board.
High-profile advocate Joe Wamback (father of 1999 beating victim Jonathan),
withdrew his family's application in 2002 after hearing nothing from the
board for years.

Among those demanding action at that time was none other than Dalton
McGuinty, then in Opposition, who declared: "(Victims) need immediate
assistance, not bureaucracy and revictimization. This province continually
makes people beg on their knees for help that never, ever comes."

As complaints continue to mount, clearly McGuinty and Bryant have done
little about the problem since they've been in power. We trust the Ombudsman
to help where they failed.

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Anonymous said...

Marin keeps getting results
Lindsay Daily Post (ON)
Wed 30 Aug 2006
Page: 4
Section: Opinion
An ombudsman's job is to act as a watchdog at the highest level, protecting the rights of the average person and making sure that those in power perform their duties properly and efficiently.

There have been many of note who have performed the duties but can anyone remember an individual who has shaken things up like Ontario's current ombudsman Andre Marin.

On issue after issue, Marin has taken the government and the bureaucracy to task for preying on the 'little guy' or causing undue grief for those in need.

Marin first drew attention earlier this year for slamming the way the Municipal Property Assessment Corp. (MPAC) performs its assessments and for ensuring that the appeal process favoured the corporation over property owners.

Surprisingly, he got results and the McGuinty government placed a freeze on assessments for two years.

As a follow up, Marin revealed that the Ministry of Community and Social Services owed money to 19,000 disabled individuals and had an application backlog for the Ontario Disability Support Plan of eight months. At the same time the ministry only allowed for a four- month retroactive period for funds.

Marin laid out the hypocrisy for all to see, using a number of heart-wrenching examples where the province's disabled had to turn to food banks or were unable to provide for their families.

Now comes word that the ministry is ahead of the schedule Marin set and is getting money to those who need it. It would be an admirable effort if there wasn't such neglect in the first place.

Marin should be lauded for defending all Ontarians and for standing up to the government and bureaucracy and telling them they are wrong. Let's hope he can keep up the good fight.

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Anonymous said...

CBC News, August 31, 2006:
Ombudsman investigating child's death takes province to court

New Brunswick's ombudsman has taken the province's Family and Community Services Department to court to try to facilitate his investigation into the death of a two-year-old in 2004.

Juli-Anna St. Peter of Canterbury died in a Fredericton hospital in April 2004. Her mother, Anna Marie Mooers, and her former common-law partner, Curtis Brent Hathaway, have been charged with criminal negligence causing death for failing to provide medical assistance.

Ombudsman Bernard Richard said he started looking into the case after allegations surfaced that child welfare officials were alerted to the young girl's plight before she died.

He said his investigation is stalled because he can't get files he needs from department officials.

"They don't object to our jurisdiction to investigate this type of complaint," he said. "But they don't think we should have access to the information that we're looking for. It seems to us to be fairly absurd."

Richard said he gets personal and confidential information from Family and Community Services almost every day, so he can't understand why this particular case is an exception.

The court hearing has been adjourned until a decision is made on the Crown's request for a broadcast ban on evidence.

Family and Community Services officials wouldn't comment on the ombudsman's court action.

The preliminary hearing for Mooers and Hathaway is Oct. 2.

Copyright © CBC 2006

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Anonymous said...

We wille not forgot what they did to you Jeffrey. As you where forced to drink from a toliat, so should they.

We will join forces for oversight, for an inquiry, into all CAS and CCAS agencys.
then you will rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Andre Marin, you are doing great work. I appreciate your efforts and your dedication. You are a modern day hero!

Anonymous said...

Its the government they ALL know the CAS and CCAS agency do not follow the law, from and never have. Its a scam , its used to kept the so called less elite, shut down, take the children and give to the state for jobs, to shut up parents, mothers that know to much, its a crimetoday. All the systems working in this criminal scam, know as well, the Canada Health care act states you have a right to make medical desions for your own children, tell a doctor that, they call CAS, and call it MSBP or FII. Take a child out of hospital, they call CAS, your abusing a child. Ask a school for an IEP, they call the CAS. your abusing the child.
Why did they not listen to Jeffreys mother, his father the other grandparent, not the ones with the long past of REAL abuse, even murder, sexual abuse and took 4 children off a couple because they were young and argued??????? to give to criminals that saw the children as meal tickets, but not enough of a meal ticket to feed the children.

Why did they not NOTE this women was a moron in case meetings????

Can they ever judge anyone suitable or not, given they placed for children with a women with marginal itellegence?????

Of course not. And this government knows, they have for years, it will not change till the lawyers judges CAS CCAS and potitians are all retired, same as all huge scandles keep them buried till they are gone.

How many more children will they bury, before someone is brave enough to say enough???

How many more mothers will wept, stolen children, for standing up for the child.

Nothing changes, Add scam they all knew reporters knew, this as well,
Its just so ugly so big now, its criminal and far to many have done nothing.

Anonymous said...

Article27 June 2005
Expert witnesses, suspect science and dead babies
Why have women been wrongly convicted of killing their children? Dr James Le Fanu points the finger at medical experts. Below, Dr Michael Fitzpatrick responds.

by Dr James Le Fanu

'Please, if there is any way you could help with our situation, by yourself or anyone you know, could you please get in touch. We can honestly say, hand on heart, we haven't done anything to hurt our baby. We are now been [sic] assessed and we got told [sic] that when we go to the finding of facts hearing and we still insist we haven't done anything, our twins will go up for adoption.' - Letter from parent

'For me, the unusual feature is death so soon after being seen well, the fact that there have been previous deaths in the family and the fact that he had had an episode of some sort only nine days before he died that caused him to be assessed in hospital, because those features are ones that are found really quite commonly in children who have been smothered by their mothers. So the diagnosis for me, the clinical diagnosis, would be this was characteristic of smothering.' - Testimony of Professor Sir Roy Meadow, R v Cannings, March 2002

The authority of medicine derives from its science base, so it would be reasonable to assume that doctors when called on to give their expert opinion in court would have a thorough balanced grasp of the relevant scientific evidence. The successful appeals of Sally Clark and Angela Cannings against their convictions for child murder would suggest otherwise, as does the recent ruling of the attorney general that a further 28 cases of parents convicted of smothering or shaking their children are 'potentially unsafe' (1).

Nor can that be all, for the attorney general's review was restricted to the criminal courts, and thus does not take into account the several hundred cases a year heard in the family courts whose less stringent standards of proof ('balance of probability' rather than 'beyond reasonable doubt') would further increase the risk of unsafe convictions. Thus the medical advocacy of contentious theories of the mechanisms of child abuse is likely to have been responsible for a systematic miscarriage of justice on a scale without precedent in British legal history - with devastating consequences for the parents wrongly convicted. Here I offer a 'master theory' to explain how this extraordinary situation has come about.

The hidden epidemic of child abuse

Since Kempe's description of the 'battered-child syndrome' in 1962, paediatricians have become only too familiar with the burns, bruises, fractures and neglect of the child victim of abusive physical assault (2). The current concerns about the wrongful diagnosis of child abuse, however, centre on a trio of very different clinical situations whose defining characteristic might be described rather as one of uncertainty or ambiguity.

-- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - SIDS remains much the commonest cause of unexpected death in childhood, whose primary aetiology, despite much research, has proved elusive.

-- Childhood injuries - children are by nature accident-prone but sometimes the severity of their injuries might seem disproportionate to the explanation provided.

-- Medically unexplained symptoms - all doctors have patients whose signs and symptoms are difficult to explain.

Doctors are no different from anyone else in being reluctant to admit they 'do not know'. Why, for example, might SIDS affect two or more children in the same family, or how might a seemingly trivial accident cause an acute intracranial injury? Some might thus be unduly susceptible to the notion that the uncertainties arise not from their lack of knowledge or clinical skills but from parental concealment - that each of these ambiguous clinical situations is potentially a form of hidden or covert abuse inflicted by parents in such a way as to hide their intentions from external scrutiny. Further, these clinically ambiguous situations are not uncommon, which would suggest that child abuse is both more prevalent than is widely appreciated and perpetrated by even the most apparently respectable of parents. Paediatricians clearly have a major responsibility in identifying these concealed forms of abuse if they are to protect children from further injury or death.

The evidence for a hidden epidemic of child abuse

The proposition that there might be a hidden epidemic of abusive injury of children emerged in the 1980s with the description by British paediatricians of two covert forms of child abuse - factitious illness and smothering. Roy Meadow, in his pioneering paper on Munchausen's syndrome by proxy (3), described two cases illustrating a phenomenon, familiar now but puzzling at the time, where mothers sought the sympathy of doctors and nursing staff by fabricating the symptoms of a perplexing illness in their child that warranted repeated hospital admissions and investigative procedures. In the first case the mother contaminated her six-year-old daughter's urine specimens to simulate recurrent urinary tract infections, while in the second the mother fed her six-week-old son high doses of salt, causing him to be admitted to hospital several times with 'unexplained' hypernatraemia. Four years later Meadow reported a further series of 19 cases in which 'fraudulent clinical histories and fabricated signs' encompassed the entire spectrum of paediatric illness - bleeding from every orifice, neurological symptoms of drowsiness, seizures and unsteadiness, rashes, glycosuria, fevers and 'biochemical chaos' (4).

The implications of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy were twofold: it alerted doctors to the possibility of fabricated illness as a potential differential diagnosis in children with unexplained symptoms. But it also demonstrated how the seemingly most devoted of parents might, in reality, be potential child abusers. Meadow himself, commenting on the mothers in the cases he described, observed how they were 'very pleasant to deal with, cooperative and appreciative of good medical care'.

David Southall's innovative technique of covert video surveillance for investigating apnoeic episodes in children vividly confirmed the sinister reality of hidden abuse (5,6). Now paediatricians attending meetings and conferences could see for themselves the blurry black and white images of mothers caught in the act of smothering or choking their babies. Southall's study widened the spectrum of child abuse in two significant directions. It offered, in smothering, a plausible explanation for why a child might experience recurrent acute life-threatening events necessitating urgent admission to hospital. And it emphasised, once again, the possibility that some at least of those children whose deaths were labelled as SIDS might have been the victims of smothering. Southall in a further report of 30 children undergoing covert video surveillance identified 12 siblings who had died unexpectedly, eight of whom the parents subsequently confessed to having smothered. Thus parental smothering must be a clear possibility in any child with recurrent acute life-threatening events where there has been more than one unexplained childhood death in the family (7).

The hidden epidemic revealed

There could be no doubt following Meadow and Southall's findings that paediatricians must have been missing a substantial number of cases of child abuse and would in future need to be much more alert to the possibility of parental harm where the diagnosis was not clear (8). Frequently, however, such suspicions could not be confirmed with the sort of direct evidence provided by techniques such as covert video surveillance. So how could doctors be confident that covert abuse was the cause - and convince others to take the necessary steps to protect the child from further danger?

Significantly, there were certain similarities in the signs and symptoms of children with these clinically ambiguous situations and those recorded in well-authenticated forms of abuse such as smothering, poisoning and abusive head injury. Thus it seemed reasonable to infer, by extrapolation, that these presentations were 'characteristic' of covert forms of abuse which could then be confidently diagnosed - even in the absence of any other circumstantial evidence such as bruises, signs of neglect or parental history of violence. During the 1980s the trio of clinically ambiguous situations would become redesignated as 'child abuse syndromes'. A key influence was 'Meadow's rule' regarding SIDS. While the absence of reliable pathological findings made it difficult to distinguish SIDS from smothering, Meadow argued that two or more childhood deaths in the same family, along with a recognisable 'pattern' of events (such as previous acute life-threatening episodes) was strongly suggestive of infanticide: 'two is suspicious and three murder unless proved otherwise...' (9, 10, 11).

Another was the proposal that two specific presentations of childhood injury were 'characteristic' of abusive assault. Caffey's original description of shaken baby syndrome suggested that the whiplash effect of vigorous shaking offered a 'reasonable explanation' for the presence of subdural and retinal haemorrhages in severely abused children (12). The imagery of how the violent to-and-fro movement of the baby's head could cause bleeding of the vessels of the eye and brain proved very persuasive, and it seemed logical to infer that any child presenting with retinal and subdural haemorrhages must have been shaken - despite the absence of other circumstantial evidence of abuse (13, 14, 15)

Similarly, Caffey attributed a radiological 'bucket handle' appearance of the metaphyses of the long bones in severely abused children as being due to a 'twisting and wrenching' of the child's limbs by the parents (16). Subsequently, it was suggested that those children in whom abuse was suspected should have a skeletal survey for similar 'suspicious' metaphyseal lesions that were interpreted as being characteristic of abusive assault - again, despite the absence of clinical signs of fracture or subsequent radiological evidence of healing (17, 18). A third was a widened case definition for Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. Meadow, in his initial series, had confirmed the diagnosis either by covert surveillance or by confronting the perpetrator and obtaining a confession. In a widened definition the presence of 'diagnostic pointers' was proposed for use in children with medically unexplained symptoms. They included:

-- Parents unusually calm for the severity of illness;

-- Parents unusually knowledgeable about the illness;

-- Parents fitting in contentedly with ward life and attention from staff;

-- Symptoms and signs inconsistent with known pathophysiology;

-- Treatments ineffective or poorly tolerated (19, 20).

The hidden epidemic confirmed

These novel child abuse syndromes, taken together, represented a major conceptual breakthrough in paediatrics. The uncertainty of clinically ambiguous situations had given place to the certainty of the single unifying and plausible diagnosis of covert abuse. The scale of the hidden epidemic then turned out to be substantially greater than had been expected, with a fourfold increase in the number of child abuse cases in the 10 years from 1978 to 1988. This was reflected regionally in an increase from 40 to over 200 cases a year in the City of Leeds while, by the end of the decade, an extra 7,500 children every year were being placed on the child protection register on the grounds of physical abuse (21, 22, 23).

Nonetheless, the facility with which the syndromes could bring to light covert abuse concealed from view their poor evidential basis. The causal link between the putative mechanism of assault and subsequent injury could be neither independently confirmed nor experimentally investigated. It might seem reasonable to extrapolate from the presence of retinal and subdural haemorrhages in the battered child that these features had the same significance in a child with no other circumstantial evidence of injury. Certainly the powerful imagery of violent shearing forces disrupting the blood vessels was persuasive, but shaking has never been directly observed or proven to cause such injuries; the supposition that they do is based on (contested) theories of biomechanics (24).

Rather, the legitimacy of the syndromes was predicated on two related and highly improbable assumptions, scientific and legal. The scientific assumption was that there could be no other explanation, either known or that might be discovered at some time in the future, that might explain these 'characteristic' presentations. Meadow's 'rule', for example, precluded the possibility that there might be some unknown genetic explanation for multiple unexpected childhood deaths in the same family, while the 'characteristic' pattern of shaken baby syndrome precluded the possibility of some alternative explanation for the retinal and subdural haemorrhages - such as an acute increase in retinal venous pressure from intracranial bleeding caused by accidental head injury (25). The legal assumption presupposed that these presentations were so specific for abuse that they were by themselves sufficient to secure a conviction - even in the absence of the sort of circumstantial evidence of violence or neglect that would normally be required to return a guilty verdict in a court of law.

Put another way, the 'characteristic' presentations of the syndromes could not sustain the interpretation placed upon them: they might be 'consistent with' but could not, by themselves, be 'diagnostic of' child abuse. Thus some at least of the parents contributing to the statistics of the fourfold rise in child abuse were likely to be innocent. Three additional factors, in particular, bolstered the credibility of the syndromes in the family and criminal courts.

The authority of the child abuse expert

By the close of the 1980s, the leading experts in child abuse had acquired an international reputation and were thus called on to instruct and educate not just their fellow paediatricians but also the police, lawyers, social workers and judges in the child abuse syndromes. Their persuasive expert opinion, when expressed in court, was guaranteed a sympathetic hearing, while their confidence in the syndromes they had discovered was virtually unchallengeable. Further, they could scarcely accept the force of contrary evidence since to do so would require them to concede that their expert testimonies might, in similar cases, have resulted in wrongful conviction. Meanwhile the costs of the process of investigating allegations arising out of the child abuse syndromes rose to an estimated £1billion per year, with the more prominent experts receiving fees for the preparation of their reports and appearances in court in excess of £100,000 a year (26).

The circular argument of successful convictions

The validity of the child abuse syndromes would appear to be confirmed by the high proportion of successful convictions that followed the courts' careful scrutiny of the allegations against parents. These convictions, however, came to rely increasingly on a circular argument - whereby the main evidence for the child abuse syndrome of which the parents were accused was that parents had been convicted of it in the past. Thus parents whose child presents with subdural and retinal haemorrhages are accused of inflicting shaken baby syndrome because, in the vast majority of cases, parents of children with subdural and retinal haemorrhages are convicted of causing shaken baby syndrome (27). Similarly, Meadow argued that 'the likelihood that the court verdicts about parental responsibility for [causing their children's death] were correct was very high indeed', without making clear that it was his expert testimony that repetitive SIDS was 'murder unless proved otherwise' that had been a major factor in securing those convictions (10).

There is a further element of circularity in the presumed pathogenesis of the syndrome of which the parents are accused. The theory of shaken baby syndrome presupposes that violent, abusive force (comparable, it is claimed, to that sustained in a high-speed road traffic accident or a fall from a second storey window) is necessary to cause retinal and subdural haemorrhages. The parents are then caught in the catch-22 of either confessing to the alleged assault (for which they might be offered the inducement 'if you say you did it we will let you have your child back') or denying it, in which case their denial is evidence they must be lying about the events surrounding their child's injury, which is then further evidence of their guilt (28).

The silencing of parents

The forces of expertise ranged against the parents were formidable enough, but it is apparent too from their personal accounts that they were subjected to a series of intimidatory tactics to silence their protestations of innocence and deny the validity of their testimony as the only witnesses of the circumstances surrounding their child's injury or death (29, 30). Thus parents describe how, when summoned to see the consultant to learn (they presume) about their child's progress, they were 'ambushed' with the diagnosis of, for example, shaken baby syndrome, presented to them as irrefutable fact ('your son must have been violently shaken for several minutes to cause these injuries') without any suggestion that there could be some alternative explanation.

The prompt involvement of the police and social workers would lead to further accusatory interrogations that begin from the principle that the parents must be guilty - as the doctors would not have made such serious accusations if they were not convinced they were true. The transcript of these interrogations would subsequently be turned against them in court so that any inconsistencies in their explanations of how their child's injuries might have occurred were then presented as evidence of their efforts to conceal their guilt (31). Parents describe the same pattern of events where they would only be informed late on a Friday evening that a preliminary court hearing had been arranged for the following Monday morning - thus leaving them the weekend to find a lawyer (who was unlikely to have any expertise in this field) to contest their child being taken into foster care (32).

These psychological tactics were a prelude to the yet more powerful intimidatory weapon of technical obscurantism - the description of their child's injuries and couching of the charges against them in a language in which the professionals were fluent but the bewildered parents were not. How could they hope to dispute the allegations when they did not know what was being talked about? Parents are of course entitled to seek their own expert opinion, but soon discovered that the overwhelming consensus about the validity of the child abuse syndromes meant it was very difficult to find anyone to argue in their defence; or worse, the expert reports they requested were actively detrimental to their case (33).

This silencing of parents was made more effective still by the rules of confidentiality that wrap the proceedings of the family courts in a cocoon of secrecy, making parents liable to a charge of contempt of court if they sought advice or support from anyone not directly involved in their case. This secrecy in turn protected the proceedings of the court, and in particular the testimony of expert witnesses, from external scrutiny while concealing from public view the spectacle of so many apparently respectable parents being convicted of inflicting these terrible injuries on their children - without any circumstantial evidence that they had done so.

The unmasking of the child abuse syndromes and the crisis for paediatrics

For parents there was no escaping their fate. From the moment of the initial allegation against them, the alliance of medical experts, police, social workers and an unsympathetic judiciary - well organised, experienced and well financed - meant that their eventual conviction was almost a foregone conclusion. Nonetheless, the two assumptions, scientific and legal, of the specificity of the syndromes as being diagnostic of abuse remained as insecure as ever, with the courts' willingness to convict parents in the absence of circumstantial evidence of abuse resting almost entirely on their faith in the reliability and trustworthiness of medical expert opinion.

The first sign that such faith might be misplaced came in 2003 during Sally Clark's successful appeal, with the revelation of 'fundamental errors' in the testimony of Meadow and other prominent experts that had resulted in her original conviction (34, 35, 36). Their credibility was further undermined by Justice Judge's Appeal Court ruling exonerating Angela Cannings of murdering her two children (37). Justice Judge dismissed the central plank of the prosecution case, Meadow's claim that there had been a 'pattern of events' leading up to the deaths of children that was 'characteristic' of smothering: 'We doubt the aptness of the description "pattern"...the history of each child was different from every other child.' Further research would refute Meadow's claim (as reflected in his 'rule') that recurrent SIDS in the same family was 'extremely rare' - in other words, that in such cases the cause was likely to be unnatural. On the contrary, a follow-up study of SIDS families found two or more deaths in the same family to be 'not uncommon' with the overwhelming majority (80-90 per cent) due to natural causes (38). There are, it has subsequently emerged, several genetic mechanisms that could account for recurrent SIDS including congenital visceroautonomic dysfunction and cardiac dysrhythmias (39, 40).

Similarly, further research has undermined the validity of retinal and subdural haemorrhages as being characteristic of shaken baby syndrome, with an evidence-based review finding 'serious data gaps, flaws of logic and inconsistency of case definition' in the relevant scientific work (41). Shaken baby syndrome was not, as its name implied, a 'syndrome', but rather encompassed several different forms of brain injury, with different clinical history and neuropathology, involving some mechanism other than shaking to account for the presence of retinal haemorrhages (42, 43). Thus a series of independently witnessed accidents confirmed that, as parents had maintained, minor falls could cause an acute subdural bleed with the retinal haemorrhages being due to a sudden rise in retinal venous pressure (44). Further, parental histories of a preceding episode of respiratory collapse were compatible with the very different pathological findings of anoxic brain damage, with disturbance of the microcirculation causing thin subdural and retinal haemorrhages (45, 46).

Meanwhile, the widened definition of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy based on 'diagnostic pointers' has also resulted in wrongful convictions, with the child's unexplained symptoms proving to be due to some rare or unusual medical condition with which the doctor was not familiar (47). Subsequently the syndrome would be renamed 'factitious illness' in recognition of the fact that, while some parents may fabricate the symptoms of their child's illness, the combination of unexplained symptoms and the mother's personality profile did not constitute a syndrome of abuse (48, 49). Finally, radiologists' misinterpretation of normal variants of ossification in the first year of life as being metaphyseal fractures accounts for the obvious discrepancy between the findings of multiple fractures on skeletal survey and the absence of any clinical signs of abusive injury (50).

This serial collapse of the improbable scientific assumption that there could be no explanation other than abuse for the characteristic presentation of these syndromes has exposed in turn the equally improbable legal assumption that, contrary to sound judicial practice, it is possible to convict parents without there being additional circumstantial evidence or reasonable motive for their abusive intentions. Thus Justice Judge would, in his exoneration of Angela Cannings, draw attention to 'the absence of the slightest evidence of physical interference which might support the allegation she had deliberately harmed them'. And, again, he emphasised how 'the absence of any indication of ill temper or ill treatment of any child at any time' and 'the evidence of both her family and outsiders about the love and care she bestowed on her children' made it extraordinarily unlikely that she might have smothered them. Justice Judge's exoneration of Angela Cannings' character as a loving mother focuses attention on the moral and judgmental dimension of the child abuse syndromes, arising from extrapolation from Meadow's original description of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, that all parents are potential child abusers. Is this extrapolation plausible? The psychological profile of those who unambiguously have harmed their children reveals, as would be expected, them to be psychopaths, criminals, opioid abusers, alcoholics and so on (51, 52). So when parents such as Angela Cannings, with no blemish on their character, appear as loving, concerned parents, the likelihood must be that it is because they are loving concerned parents - and very powerful evidence is required to argue otherwise.

Meadow and the proponents of the child abuse syndromes necessarily take the contrary view, and in so doing are required to portray parents' protestations of innocence as deceitful. That moral judgment, together with the failure to recognise that medical knowledge may be incomplete, meant that Angela Cannings' wrongful conviction for infanticide was almost inevitable (53). The question remains how many other parents have similarly been wrongly convicted of the terrible crime of injuring their children, and been robbed of their families, livelihoods and good name.

Read Dr Michael Fitzpatrick's response to Dr James Le Fanu here.

James Le Fanu is a medical writer for the Daily Telegraph and author of The Rise and Fall of Modern Medicine, published by Abacus (Buy this book from Amazon(UK) or Amazon(USA)).This article was first published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Issue 98, available to subscribers here.

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Anonymous said...

Cleveland child sexual abuse scandle

An Abuse and Misuse of Professional Power
by Charles Pragnell

In early summer 1987, the United Kingdom and the world were rocked by allegations of child sexual abuse occurring in Cleveland, a major industrial conurbation in the North-East of England.
The Cleveland area was mainly comprised of three major towns, Middlesbrough, Stockton-on-Tees, and Hartlepool, and was administered at that time by a single local authority, Cleveland County Council, which had been formed in 1974. The area has since been divided into four local authorities and the name Cleveland only forms part of one of those councils.

Historically, Middlesbrough only came into existence at the beginning of the 19th century when iron ore was found in the nearby hills and it became a steel-making area, attracting workers from Ireland, Scotland and many other areas of the U.K. and from Eastern European countries such as Poland. Being at the mouth of a major river, the River Tees, the area then began to develop as a shipbuilding centre, and in the early part of the 20th century, petro-chemical industries were introduced and it became one of the largest centres in Europe for chemical and plastic production.

In the 1970s the steel-making, ship-building, and chemical industries went into rapid decline leading to high levels of unemployment which still persist among the mainly working-class population.

In the years leading up to 1987, the incidence of allegations of child sexual abuse for Cleveland was no greater than other parts of the U.K. but in January 1987 the numbers began to escalate rapidly, reaching a peak in May, June, and July. The total referrals to Cleveland Social Services for all forms of child abuse during the period January to July 1987 were 505 referrals compared with only 288 referrals in the equivalent period in the previous year.

Increasing numbers of allegations of child sexual abuse were being made by two consultant paediatricians at a Middlesbrough hospital and were based on an unproven medical diagnosis termed the anal dilatation test. Once these allegations had been made, social workers were removing the children from their families on Place of Safety Orders, often in midnight and dawn raids on the family home where children were taken from their beds and placed in foster homes and residential homes.

The initial crisis came when there were no more foster homes or residential home placements to accommodate the numbers of children involved and a special ward had to be set up at the hospital to accommodate the children who continued to be diagnosed as having been sexually abused.

Increasingly the diagnosis using the anal dilation test was being challenged by the police surgeon, who questioned the validity of such a test, and the police gradually withdrew their co-operation in the cases referred by the consultant paediatricians. Relationships between the police, social workers, and the paediatricians broke down as the dispute in medical opinions escalated.

It is alarming to note that there is no requirement for paediatric diagnoses to be scientifically-based, despite the present emphasis on `evidence-based' social work and medicine, and there is no system of verifying and validating paediatric diagnoses on which child abuse allegations may be based, before they can be used in clinical practice. This was acknowledged by John Forfar, the then President of the British Paediatric Association, who wrote to one of the paediatricians involved, Dr. Marietta Higgs, in July 1987 and gave an admonishment in regard to the use of the anal dilatation test :

"The regulation of medical practice is achieved best when it is accomplished within the medical profession. New stances based on a new awareness of clinical signs, or new significances being attached to them, require first to be established within the profession. This takes some time and requires persuasion and scientific evidence of validity, based on the accepted method of communication to professional journals or scientific meetings."

In the early months of the crisis, the allegations involved working-class families, who were confused, bewildered, and angry at being accused of sexually abusing their children, but they were powerless against middle-class professionals with the authority, power, and legal sanctions to support their actions. Gradually, however, the allegations began to involve middle-class families who were highly educated, employed in professional occupations, and with access to legal and political advice and to the media. They were to use such powerful allies to considerable effect. From a sociological perspective, therefore, the events in Cleveland could be seen as a punitive form of middle-class oppression of working-class families by middle-class professionals and an imposition of middle-class values on the working classes. Some aspects of the Cleveland Child Sexual Abuse Scandal have been likened to a mediaeval witch-hunt by at least one author (`When Salem came to the Boro' - Rt. Hon. Stuart Bell, Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough - 1988).

In the initial months of the crisis, public sympathy and concern was strongly in support of the social workers and paediatricians and the media, pursuing their simplistic analysis of all situations as having `goodies' and `baddies', also supported the social workers. Several social workers and managers within the Social Services had serious doubts about what was happening, but although they voiced their concerns to senior managers, they too were powerless to change events.

Public concern centred on the removal of children from their beds at all hours of the night and fear spread among the local population, as these were painful reminders of events which occurred in Germany between 1933 and 1945, when there were similar misuses of state power by police and government officials.

The turning point of events came in late May on the day that the parents decided to march from the hospital where their children were being held to the offices of the local newspaper, and they began telling their versions of events, which of course varied considerably from the narrative constructions of the paediatricians and social workers. Gradually, the media turned to support the parents, and the social workers came under intense public and political scrutiny, which eventually led to the setting up of a Public Inquiry led by Justice Butler-Sloss.

The Inquiry examined the cases involving 121 children where sexual abuse was alleged to have been identified using the anal dilation test and the actions of the paediatricians and social workers involved. Of these 121 cases where sexual abuse of the children was alleged, the Courts subsequently dismissed the proceedings involving 96 of the children, i.e. over 80% were found to be false accusations. There are some social workers and medical professionals who have found difficulty in accepting the findings of the Courts and are `in denial' that they were wrong in their allegations. They have sought to use the findings of a medical panel which claimed that, on the basis of an examination of cases involving 29 of the children, 75% of the children had been sexually abused. Medical opinion is not, of course, proven fact, whereas opinions and supportive evidence given in courts can be challenged and tested under cross-examination as to their validity and veracity.

One of the major findings of the Butler-Sloss Inquiry was that children had been removed precipitately by social workers who had failed to seek corroborative evidence to support the allegations of the paediatricians and had failed to carry out comprehensive assessments of the children and their families. Consequently a requirement was introduced that social workers should not act solely on the basis of medical opinion.

Concerns were also expressed at the Inquiry regarding the use of video-recording equipment for surveillance of interviews with children and the use of anatomically-correct dolls in the questioning of children where sexual abuse was alleged. During such video-recorded sessions, social workers were seen to threaten and attempt to bribe children in order to bring pressure on the children to confirm the social worker's views that they had been abused and leading questions were asked of the children which would not have been permitted in courts. The interviews of the children by the social workers also confused the investigatory nature of such interviews with a therapeutic purpose. Where interviews containing a therapeutic element with children where abuse is alleged are conducted before trial, courts could take the view that such interviews contaminated and corrupted the children's evidence.

Anatomically correct dolls can now only be used by professionals who have undertaken intensive training in their use, and serious doubts have been raised by some psychologists regarding the use of such dolls, citing the difficulties of interpretations of children's behaviours which can be made and how readily false assumptions can be made.

One of the key issues in the Cleveland Child Sex Abuse Scandal was the power of professional groups in U.K. society, and how those powers can be misused and abused in the absence of accountability in law and for professional practice. Social workers are not personally liable in law for their actions in child protection matters, as they can be in mental health work and it could be argued that this is a necessary development. It is only recently that a General Social Care Council (G.S.C.C.) has been introduced in the U.K. under which social workers will now be registered and can be held responsible for their professional practice. However there is little public confidence in the General Medical Council to which medical practitioners are accountable for malpractice and misconduct, and it remains to be seen whether the G.S.C.C. is effective in its role and is thereby able to command public confidence.

There is a belief in some quarters that the events in Cleveland in 1987 led to the Children Act 1989 but this is incorrect. The need for the reform of child care legislation, both public and private law relating to children, had been identified several years earlier by the House of Commons Social Services Select Committee of 1984 (Children In Care) which described the then situation as "complex, confusing, and unsatisfactory". A Review of Child Care Law followed and led to a White Paper, "The Law on Child Care and Family Services", which was published before the findings of the Butler-Sloss Inquiry were known. The Law Commission was also examining the reform of private law relating to children and published its findings in July 1988.

There had been numerous Public Inquiries during the 1970s and 1980s into the deaths of children whilst under the care and supervision of social workers e.g. Maria Colwell, Kimberley Carlisle, Jasmine Beckford, Stephen Meurs, Tyra Henry, etc, and these cases had a major impact on the preparation of the Bill which led to the Children Act 1989. The other major influence on the Children Act was the need to encompass the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which was finally signed by the U.K. government in 1991.

There was some delay in publishing the Act during the Inquiry into the Cleveland Child Abuse Scandal and the effects on the Act were the introduction of the Emergency Protection Order lasting only seven days and which could be challenged in the courts by the parents after 72 hours. The previous Place of Safety Orders used extensively in Cleveland could not be challenged for 28 days. The guidance to the Act also required that in Care Proceedings, courts should seek to reach decisions as quickly as possible, as in many of the cases concerning children involved in the Cleveland Scandal, they were left in the limbo of Interim Care Orders, lasting in some cases up to two years. Wardship proceedings had also been used in Cleveland where difficulties would have been experienced by social workers in bringing Care Proceedings and so changes were made to Wardship Proceedings restricting such uses and may now only be used in specific circumstances.

Since 1987, the people of Cleveland have sought to move on from this unsavoury episode in the area's history and to gradually remove the slurs and scars to the reputation of what has always been a vibrant industrial and commercial community.

Perhaps the most lasting effect has been the climate of fear which was created and engendered in the parents of young children by events in Cleveland in 1987, not only in Cleveland but the rest of the U.K. In the 1980s male parents were becoming more accepting of their role as direct carers of their children and to share roles with their female partners, commonly referred to as the `Sensitive New Age Guys' [SNAGs]. This involved the male parent in bathing and dressing their children and performing other acts of personal care. Following Cleveland, many male parents withdrew from these activities from fear that their actions might be seen as unhealthy by social workers and might be misinterpreted by social workers as having an unnatural interest in their children, and they feared allegations of child abuse could be made against them..

In 1987, Charles Pragnell was the Head of Research and Management Information Systems with Cleveland Social Services Department and was involved in the collection and collation of the data and statistics concerning the events which took place.

Anonymous said...

Society's unhealthy obsession with abuse
Sir Roy Meadow is not single-handedly responsible for a culture that sees child abuse everywhere.

No the doctors in the child abuse teams at the childrens hospitals lie so much, its sick

Anonymous said...

Is Jeffreys plake been put on yet? does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Kids in provincial care less healthy
Far more likely to be medicated, in hospital
Jeff Rud, Times Colonist Victoria, BC
Published: Thursday, September 21, 2006
Children in the continuing care of the provincial government are four times more likely to be treated for a mental disorder, a joint report by B.C.'s provincial health and children's officers shows.

The report, released yesterday, also shows children in care have been prescribed Ritalin-type medications, for conditions such as attention deficit disorder, up to 12 times more often than children who have never been in care.

Co-authored by B.C.'s child and youth officer Jane Morley and provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, the 89-page report offers the first "baseline" data reflecting the health and well-being of the approximately 5,000 children in continuing care at any given time between 1997 and 2005.

The picture is not a positive one. Children in continuing care were hospitalized between two and 3.5 times more frequently than those in the general population. Young women in continuing care became pregnant at a rate more than four times higher than those who had never been in care.

The data also show that 85 per cent of these children received treatment for respiratory conditions, a rate 15 per cent higher than normal.

As a result, the most concrete of 13 recommendations in the report calls for a no-smoking policy in B.C. foster homes.

The report also recommends the Ministry of Children and Family Development engage research on whether such children are being appropriately medicated. Besides Ritalin, the report shows that psychotherapeutic agents to treat things such as depression and anxiety are prescribed up to eight times more often than normal. Sixty-five per cent of these children were treated for mental disorders.

Another recommendation is investment in a cross-ministry plan to help those "aging out" of care at 19. The report showed that between the ages of 19 and 25, former children in care died at a rate 6.5 times higher than normal.

Morley said the current government made cuts to already limited transition programs after taking power in 2001. "It's a very difficult period of time and it needs managing, and there's a certain number of children who fall through the gap.''

Children and Families Minister Tom Christensen said the stats are disturbing, but not surprising. "These are typically children who have faced a number of challenges in their lives. There's a reason they're in the permanent care of the province and they tend to be some of the most vulnerable children.''

Christensen supports recommendations that similar reports be done regularly. He also favours a no-smoking policy in foster homes, but will have to talk to the B.C. Federation of Foster Parent Associations about the implications.

With the exception of mental health diagnoses, most other outcomes have "trended down" during the eight-year span of the report, which is a positive thing, the authors said.

"It does imply that in the care we are providing we are doing some things right,'' Kendall said.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006

Anonymous said...


Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills
Ms. Andrea Horwath (NDP) presented a report from the committee regarding
Bill 89 (Kevin & Jared's Law). The Bill was ordered for third reading.

Anonymous said...

Kids' lives worth cost of inquest
Sudbury Star (ON)
Thu 28 Sep 2006
Page: A10
Section: Editorial & Opinion
Premier Dalton McGuinty need not have hesitated to support a private member's bill that will force automatic inquests into the deaths of children during court-ordered visits with their parents.

This one was a gut call, not one of pragmatism.

The bill, called Kevin and Jared's law, will incur a cost - inquests can be expensive - but given the array of government programs that are supported by public money, can protecting children who are abused or killed by a parent involved in a messy domestic dispute be anywhere but at the top of the list?

Private member's bills rarely pass, but this one, introduced by longtime Burlington Conservative MPP Cam Jackson, passed the first two readings after it was introduced in April. The Liberals were hesitant to support the final reading because of the costs involved with inquests, but McGuinty finally decided to support it.

Said the premier: "It occurred to me that we were missing the boat and that there was a germ of a good idea to be found in Cam Jackson's bill."

In reality, the governing Liberals should have moved on the issue before Jackson did.

The bill is named after two children who were killed by their fathers during unsupervised visits. Kevin Latimer was just 18 months old when he died after falling from a third-floor window of a Hamilton apartment in February 2004 while he was on an unsupervised visit with his father - who was drunk at the time.

Eight-year-old Jared Osidacz was stabbed and killed in March in Brantford by his father, Andrew Osidacz, who was shot and killed by police after the boy's death as he held a knife at the neck of his estranged wife, Julie Craven. Osidacz had been granted unsupervised visits with his son despite an earlier violent assault on Craven. Before Jared died, he intervened in an attack by his father on two other people, a move that allowed them to escape the townhouse where Jared eventually died.

It was a heartbreaking story and one that should never be repeated. Jared died a hero that day and his legacy, says his mother, will live on in the new law. Said Craven: "My Jared will get a little bit of rest now. This bill is going to save other children's lives."

There is every reason to believe that is possible. The bill provides victims families with government-funded representation at inquests, which means families will be able to seek public answers from agencies that might be prone to protecting themselves in the event of an investigation.

Recall that earlier this year, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin called for his office to have more powers of investigation into Children's Aid Societies after five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin died of starvation-induced pneumonia and septic shock. He was in the custody of his maternal grandparents, who were approved by the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Toronto as acceptable caregivers, despite the fact they were convicted child abusers. The CAS involved, said Marin, provided little co-operation in his investigation.

Craven and Kevin's mother, Jenny, lobbied relentlessly for the law. They have done well in memory of their children. Their efforts may indeed save the lives of others.

What do you think? Send us your opinion in a Letter to the Editor at 33 MacKenzie St., Sudbury, P3C 4Y1, or fax it to 674-6834 or e- mail it to

© 2006 Osprey Media Group Inc. All rights reserved.

Anonymous said...

CAS dirty fingers in the pot again!!!

Role of CAS questioned after Barrie slayings


The mother accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of her two little girls last week was admitted to a psychiatric ward of a local hospital as a suicidal patient just five months earlier.

Frances Elaine Campione, The Globe and Mail has confirmed, was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Barrie, Ont., for an emergency assessment.

The 31-year-old's history in an active file at the Children's Aid Society of Simcoe County raises alarming questions about why the agency returned her two vulnerable youngsters -- Serena, 3, and Sophia, who was just a year old -- to her care and what workers and supervisors were doing to monitor her.

Ms. Campione was admitted to hospital early last June after taking an overdose of medication and leaving a suicide note. She was discharged June 30, and within a week or so, The Globe has learned, had managed to regain custody of the little girls and had them back living with her.

Print Edition - Section Front
Enlarge Image

Ms. Campione was discharged the same day that another mother who was on the ward at the same time walked out of the Royal Vic -- but with a battery of support services in place.

This woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, was suffering from postpartum depression after the recent birth of a second daughter.

When released, she was involved with various community agencies, on medication and feeling much better.

But, she told The Globe in a lengthy interview, Ms. Campione was "still acting very erratic, right to the last day . . . I have no idea how she got out at the same time. . . ."

Indeed, on their last day in hospital, the woman said, Ms. Campione, who had fought with other patients and was considered very difficult to get along with, improbably presented them with fancy pens from the hospital gift shop as well as thank you cards.

Even on the ward, where the woman said people "were all there for different reasons and . . . extremely supportive" of one another, Ms. Campione kept her distance.

According to this woman, it seemed Ms. Campione "felt the whole world was against her. . . . It seemed like she would just kind of blame everything on everything that was going around her. It was her in-laws' fault that she doesn't have the kids; it was the CAS's problem; her husband destroyed her life, you know."

Ms. Campione and her husband, Leo, whom she had accused of assault and threatening, were going through a bitter custody battle.

As a result of those unproven charges, Mr. Campione was under a restraining order that prohibited him from being alone with his children.

When Ms. Campione was hospitalized, Serena and Sophia moved in with their paternal grandparents, which meant that Mr. Campione, who was living with his folks, had to move out so that his daughters could live there without him being in violation of his bail conditions.

But the suicide attempt and hospitalization were not the only warning signs that the young mother may have been in trouble.

At least one of Ms. Campione's relatives, a member of the Goodine family, and one professional had expressed concern to authorities about the safety of the little girls in the months before their slayings.

As well as the criminal investigation of the children's deaths, the Office of the Ontario Coroner is conducting a separate review of any community agency involvement with the Campione family.

It is this Ontario government office that drove, through various coroner's inquests into the deaths of children who were either in the care of, or ostensibly being monitored by, children's aid societies, the most significant recent legislative change in child welfare: the requirement in law that it is the child's best interest, not the family's or a parent's, that must be paramount in child protection.

There have been a raft of notorious cases in the past 15 years where youngsters, purportedly being watched over by one children's aid society or another, were revealed after their deaths to have been the victims of battering, abuse and even starvation.

Inquests have shown that time and time again, child-care workers identify too closely with the mother's needs to the detriment of the vulnerable children involved.

Indeed, a sweeping review of the death of a 13-month-old Newfoundland boy named Zachary Turner, released last week, found that despite the massive publicity in the deaths of other youngsters across the country, the social workers in Zachary's case made the same mistake.

Anonymous said...

Surprise, surprise!...

Barrie family's file opened
Oct. 18, 2006. 01:00 AM

BARRIE—The Children's Aid Society was twice alerted to the mental problems suffered by a Barrie mother accused of killing her two preschoolers, but only removed them from her custody temporarily during hospital stays, newly released court documents show.
The Simcoe County Children's Aid Society was first alerted to the problems last October, after Frances Elaine Campione left daughters Serena, 3, and Sophia, 1, with family and checked herself into a hospital for psychiatric care, according to an affidavit filed by the girls' paternal grandfather, Diego Campione.
A year later — after Elaine had to forgo caring for her children twice in a seven-month period in order to get treatment — the girls were found dead in her Barrie apartment. Questions about the Children's Aid's involvement in the case were raised immediately following the deaths. Those questions were heightened yesterday when a family court file was opened to the public, revealing a family that has been battling severe troubles for years.
In a sworn statement, Diego says Elaine appeared unexpectedly at his Woodbridge home last October with his grandchildren "because she could not take care of them."
Four months earlier, the mother took custody of the girls after a blow-out with her husband, Leo Campione, which resulted in her fleeing their Bradford home for a shelter. Afterward, Leo was criminally charged with several counts of assault, including one against his eldest daughter, who was 22 months old at the time of the incident; a restraining order preventing him from seeing his family was imposed.
He and his parents had little contact with the children until Elaine showed up at their family home.
"Elaine's behaviour was strange and disturbing ... She was incoherent. She stated that she wanted us to take care of the children and not let them forget their mother ... She stated that someone wanted to kill her," Diego's statement says.
At the hospital, a nurse told Diego "Elaine was in very bad shape mentally and at a stage where she might have harmed herself and the children." Children's Aid was notified of the situation and Diego and his wife Anna were granted temporary custody of their grandchildren, the documents say.
However, the girls were returned to their mother in Barrie a week later when she was released, court documents say.
Seven months later, the situation repeated itself.
The children stayed with the elder Campiones until July 9 of this year "when Elaine's doctor stated that she was no longer a risk to the children," Diego's affidavit says.
Elaine has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. She remains in custody at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene.
Mary Ballantyne, executive director of Children's Aid in Simcoe County, said she could not discuss the specifics of the Campione case, but said an external investigator will be hired to conduct a review.
Ballantyne said she's not yet in a position to say whether her agency dropped the ball.
"In all of the families that we are working with, there are risks for the children. We do try to ... have a place that is safe for the children. Sometimes there are issues with both parents. It's not directly obvious exactly where the best place is," she said.
The court documents show her agency took some steps to safeguard the children, including completing a risk-assessment of Leo. They found no "safety issues" with him seeing the kids.
In a statement released yesterday, Leo said he is "innocent of these allegations and have maintained my innocence from the beginning."

Anonymous said...

When will he come OUR way?

Ontario's Ombudsman Now has the Power to Investigate Catholic District School Board
Mon 23 Oct 2006
Time: 16:42 PM
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 23, 2006) -


Since the Ministry of Education has assumed control over the administration of the Boards' affairs, complaints about Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board can now be investigated by the Ontario Ombudsman.

Through an Order in Council issued on October 10, 2006, control and charge over the administration of the affairs of the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board were taken over by the Ministry of Education.

"While the functions of school boards are not generally within the scope of my office," explained Mr. Andre Marin, Ombudsman of Ontario, "as the Board is currently controlled by the Ministry, issues occurring after October 10 are now within my jurisdiction."

The ombudsman is an independent officer of the Legislature with the power to investigate complaints about services provided by the government of Ontario and its agencies.

If you are not sure whether your concern or complaint falls within the purview of the Ombudsman Act, please contact the office at 1-800-263-1830 and a member of staff will be pleased to assist.

Anonymous said...

Exactly, and they should have the Ombudsman in charge. But the government does not want him to investigate the CAS, and the filthy realm of fraud and corruption. After all a former CAS supervisor was just in the news for gun running. One wonders what else Andre Marin might find in the various CAS agencies.

McGuinty is McGutless when it comes to this!

Anonymous said...

Boo-Hoo-Hoo!!! pass me the kleenex...

Nicholas Davis
Mon, October 23, 2006

CAS getting a bad rap
News coverage of Children's Aid Society focuses on bad, overlooks good, says Foster Parents' prez


It was early in the morning on Oct. 4 when police were dispatched to a Barrie highrise where Elaine Campione lived with her two young daughters.

When they arr-ived on scene, they found the lifeless bodies of 3-year-old Serena Campione and 1-year-old Sophia. A few hours after removing the bodies from the apartment, police charged their mother with two counts of first-degree murder.

At the time of the deaths, Campione and her estranged husband, Leonardo, were in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle. They had a family court proceeding scheduled for Oct. 5.

Leonardo Campione's family blamed a "catastrophic failure of the system" for the death of the two girls. And last week the Ontario Coroner's office launched an investigation to see whether the system did fail the two sisters.

The Simcoe County Children's Aid Society is also preparing an internal review.

The is one of several cases over the past few years that have put a negative spotlight on the CAS.

But Marlyn Wall, president of the Foster Parents Society of Ontario, feels people who work for Children's Aid societies often don't get enough credit for the good work they do.

"I have to say the balance is missing in terms of the coverage foster care and Children's Aid gets," says Wall, who has been a foster care provider for the past 12 years with her husband, Patrick.


"You always hear the bad messages and how the system failed someone. Don't get me wrong, it's important the negative stuff is not hidden because we need to know when there are failures in the system so we can correct them. But you rarely hear about what's working well in the system."

Wall believes the things that work well are often taken for granted. The Ottawa area, where she works, has more than 800 children in CAS care and it works with 10,000 children who live at home with their parents. But she admits that with the volume of children it deals with, sometimes things can go wrong.

"People don't understand the types of kids you get in foster care," Wall says.

"They often need extra attention and often times we are already behind the eight ball by the time we get them. Some of them have suffered through horrendous cases of abuse and they come with multiple complications.


"But for most kids, regardless of what we give them, they want to be home with their parents. And in the end, what we're trying to do is keep families together if we can."

One thing Wall thinks could help is if more people were familiar with the Use Your Voice Campaign.

Last week, the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies celebrated the second anniversary of the campaign designed to prevent child abuse in Ontario.

The website for the campaign provides information about the signs and indicators of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, including neglect, and how to contact a local CAS.

"We have to make sure that people know how to read the signs of abuse to prevent children from getting hurt," Wall says. "And we need people to feel comfortable about approaching Children's Aid if they suspect a child is in danger. It can't wait until there's stress at the door."

Anonymous said...

Pass the Kleenex for sure, isn't it ridiculous for the CAS to whine about their image, when they are the very people blatantly refusing to change it. They are the one's who do not want Ombudsman oversight, and they are the one's who refuse to answer to their victims. For the public to have sympathy for these agencies considering their overt lack of smypathy let alone empathy to anyone that they have been involved with is more then arrogant.

Anonymous said...

And if the CAS is in the actual business of child protection why did they send Jeffrey and his siblings to two convicted child abusers, not to mention all the other abusers those agencies have sent people to. And if it is all above board why not have oversight?

If the CAS is actually acting accordingly to their mandate then why are they refusing to be responsible to the public, their wards, former one's etc...

Anonymous said...

I really hope that the inquiry makes that agency be accountable for once!

Jonh Neo said...

Good day Jeffrey's, This is a good article site.
i found many information here.
Good luck, Jeffrey's

Anonymous said...

The Holland verdict: A system failed Ricky
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
With the climax of the Lisa Holland murder trial, it is now legally certain what had become obvious to any interested observer: Both Lisa and Tim Holland failed their 7-year-old adopted son Ricky in the most basic of all parental duties -- to protect your children. In fact, Lisa Holland engineered Ricky's torture and death while her husband stood mutely by. Rotting in prison is an appropriate punishment.

During the trials both of Lisa and her husband Tim (who pled guilty to second-degree murder earlier and agreed to testify against Lisa), it became clear that neither of these people should have been parents. When Ricky first disappeared from the Hollands' Williamston home, Tim and Lisa told police the boy had run away. That sparked a nine-day search, involving 1,700 volunteers and hundreds of law-enforcement officers.

Actually, Ricky likely died from brain injuries inflicted a week before he died. His parents chose not to seek medical attention, no doubt because questions would be asked. So Ricky died a slow death, unable to talk, eat or drink.

Eventually, his body was found in an Ingham County game area. Only then did Tim admit dumping his son's remains rather than following one of his wife's suggestions -- to feed Ricky to alligators.

How did two such abysmal human beings end up as Ricky's parents?

Originally, the Jackson County Department of Human Services placed little Ricky in the Holland home in 2000 after the couple applied to be foster parents. In 2003, the Hollands were allowed to adopt the boy. Yet documents obtained by a Detroit newspaper showed that there was little oversight. During nearly a two-year period, there was not one documented visit to the home.

In retrospect, there were points at which someone should have picked up on the Hollands' abusive home -- here in Jackson County and, when the Hollands moved to Williamston in May of 2005 in Ingham County as well.

In fact, someone did try to intervene at one point, but was rebuffed. That came out during a court hearing earlier this year. Carol Coxon, formerly a school nurse at Cascades Elementary School in Jackson, said she examined Ricky at the principal's request and found bruises on his shoulders, upper back and chest. She reported the injuries to Child Protective Services, which responded that the complaint did not warrant investigation. She said she filed at least two other reports as well.

Yet the system failed to respond -- until the boy disappeared for good. Then hundreds of people were concerned enough to act. Then all the bureaucratic officials began reviewing policies and procedures. Then the case took on political overtones and even developed into an issue in the 2006 gubernatorial campaign.

It doesn't matter to Ricky who was elected Tuesday in the governor's race. It no longer matters that his birth parents neglected him, his foster parents abused him and his adopted parents killed him. After all, Ricky is in a better place, where the judge of all who abuse children must ultimately find justice, or mercy.

But there is one thing that does still matter very much -- the quality of oversight of foster children and their homes by the agencies established for that purpose. We hope that in Jackson County, at least, the lessons of the Holland case have been learned, and appropriate changes made.

-- Jackson Citizen Patriot

Anonymous said...

Jury finds mother guilty of murder
Lisa Holland convicted of murdering her son
By Josh DeVine
INGHAM COUNTY (WJRT) - (10/27/06)--In a full Ingham County courtroom Friday morning, Judge Paula Manderfield asked the foreman to read the verdict.

The formeman complied, announcing that the jury of 12 found the Lansing-area mother guilty on charges she abused and murdered her son.
Lisa Holland now faces life in prison without parole in connection with last year's death of 7-year-old Ricky Holland. When the judge announced the verdict, Holland appeared visibly disappointed.

Friday's verdict capped six weeks of testimony from more than 50 witnesses. Jurors also considered more than 300 pieces of evidence during the trial, which began with testimony Sept. 18.

In early July 2005, Tim Holland called 911 to report Ricky Holland missing. His call sparked a 10-day search of 18 square miles of rural Ingham County. As the case grew cold, investigators shifted their attention to the boy's two parents.

In late January, Ingham County sheriff's deputies arrested Lisa Holland and her husband, Tim. Prosecutors soon charged the pair with open murder and child abuse. During a search of the family's Williamston-area home, investigators found items connected to Ricky Holland bagged, thrown out or concealed.

In April, following a 14-day preliminary examination, a district judge sent the case to circuit court.

There, it took attorneys on both sides a week to narrow down a pool of dozens of potential jurors to the 16 who heard opening statements Sept. 18.

For six weeks, attorneys poured over dozens of witnesses and piles of evidence, including blood stains found in the Holland home and a small tack hammer prosecutors told the judge and jury they believed was the murder weapon.

The state tried to make the case that the murder of Ricky Holland was part of a pattern of abuse in the family's home. The judge and jury heard from Ricky Holland's first-grade principal, bus driver, bus aide and neighbors, who testified they suspected abuse in the Holland home.

To counter, defense attorneys offered testimony from family members who told the judge and jury Lisa Holland was a good mother who did the best she could. The defense also highlighted what it considered flaws in Tim Holland's character.

Evidence suggests the U.S. Army fired Tim Holland from a civilian job for viewing pornography and soliciting sexual relationships on a work computer.

In closing arguments Wednesday, an attorney for Lisa Holland further tried to cast doubt on the state's story by assuming the role of Ricky Holland. "I was you that [SIC] hurt me," Abood said. "You picked me up and threw me in the ditch."

Andrew Abood further clarified, telling the jury prosecutors already had the person responsible for the crime.

Last month, Tim Holland accepted a prosecution plea deal in exchange for his testimony against his wife. He told the judge and jury she hit the boy with a hammer at least twice and told him to get rid of the boy's body.

Tim Holland also admitted he led investigators to the boy's body in a swampy ditch in rural Dansville in southern Ingham County.

Under defense cross examination, however, Tim Holland admitted he lied to investigators, the media and most recently, the jury.

"When is it easier to lie than to tell the truth?" Abood asked the jury redundantly in closing arguments. "When you've killed your own son."

The Ingham County assistant prosecutor earlier summed up his case by referring jurors to 10 strands of evidence he first introduced in opening statements.

Before deliberations Wednesday afternoon, Ingham County Circuit Judge Paula Manderfield excused two male jurors and separated a third female juror. That pared the group of 15 jurors to the 12 who decided Lisa Holland's fate.

The female juror would replace one of the 12 -- eight men and four women -- in the event of an emergency.

One of the excused jurors who only wanted to be identified as Gene said he felt relieved his role in the case was over.

A father of two children, he told reporters gathered outside the courthouse Wednesday afternoon he felt he knew who was responsible for the little boy's death.

"I thought she was guilty," he said.

He also told reporters he believed jurors would quickly reach a verdict.

The second juror released Wednesday afternoon chose not to speak with reporters.

You can see the ABC12 report by clicking on the video icon above. You will need Windows Media Player to view this video. You can get it FREE by clicking here. NOTE: Video clips will only be available for 7-days from the date they were created. ALSO: Video clips may play in a separate window, without audio, on Mac OS X machines. is aware of this issue and is working with the video player vendor to correct it as soon as possible.Copyright 2006 ABC Inc., WJRT-TV Inc.

ABC12 News Team

Josh DeVine

Anonymous said...

February 9, 1996 - David Polreis, Jr: age 2, of Greeley, Colorado was beaten to death. Over 90% of David's body was covered in cuts, which his adoptive mother, Renee Polreis, claimed was due to the boys severe RAD. Renee stated that David would hit himself with a wooden spoon. Husband, David Polreis, Sr. was out of town at time of attack and was not implicated. Rene Polreis was convicted of child abuse resulting in death and sentenced to 18 years in prison. David was adopted 6 months before his death.
November 25, 1998 - Logan Higginbotham: age 3, of Shelburne, Vermont died of massive head injuries. Adoptive mother Laura Higginbotham, stated that Logan fell and hit her head on the floor of an upstairs bedroom. It took 3 years for the medical examiner to determine whether the case was accidental or homicide. In 2004, Laura Higginbotham pled no contest to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 1 year in prison. Logan was in US 7 months before her death.
October 31, 2000 - Viktor Matthey: age 6, of Hunterdon County, New Jersey died of cardiac arrest due to hyperthermia after adoptive parents Robert and Brenda Matthey locked him overnight in a damp unheated pump room. Viktor was also severely beaten by his adoptive father. Both parents are sentenced to 10 years for confining Viktor to a pump room, 10 years for excessive corporal punishment and 7 years for failing to provide medical care. The sentences run concurrently. Viktor was in the US 10 months before his death.
November 30, 2001 - Luke Evans: age 1.5 of Lowell, Indiana died of massive head injuries, shaken baby syndrome, and poor nutrition. Adoptive mother, Natalie Fabian Evans, stated that she couldn't wake Luke one morning and so placed him in a tub of water to "stimulate him" where she says he may have bumped his head on the tub. The authorities took a year to investigate the case. Evans is scheduled to stand trial for murder in October 2005. Luke was in the US 6 months before his death.
December 14, 2001 - Jacob Lindorff: age 5, of Gloucester Twp, New Jersey died of blunt force trauma to head. Also suffered from 2nd degree burns on feet, hemorrhaging in 1 eye; bruises, and seizures. Adoptive mother Heather Lindorff, was found guilty of 2nd degree endangering, aggravated assault and sentenced to 6 years. Adoptive father, James, sentenced to 4 years probation and 400 hours of community service for child abuse. Adoptive mother claimed that the injuries were accidents. Jacob was in the US 6 weeks before his death.
August 15, 2002 - Zachary Higier: age 2, of Braintree, Massachusetts, died of severe head trauma. Adoptive mother Natalia Higier, stated that he had fallen out of his crib or hit his head on the floor. She later admitted to tossing him into the air and he hit his head on the coffee table. Zachary sustained a bilateral skull fracture, strokes, brain swelling, and detached retinas. Natalia pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail with 18 months balance of sentence suspended for 4 years.
October 23, 2002 - Maria Bennett: age 2, of Lancaster, Ohio, died from shaken baby syndrome. Adoptive mother Susan Jane Bennett, said that she had tripped while carrying Maria and had dropped her. Medical evidence proved otherwise. Susan Bennett pled no contest to 1 count of reckless homicide and was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Maria was adopted 9 months before her death.
August 11, 2003 - Jessica Albina Hagmann: age 2, died from smothering. Adoptive mother, Patrice Hagmann claimed that she accidently killed Jessica while trying to stop her from having a tantrum. Patrice was sentenced to probation and to 2 suspended 5 year terms.
October 16, 2003 - Liam Thompson: age 3, of Columbus, Ohio, died from scalding and neglect. His adoptive father, Gary, placed him in a tub of 140 degree water. He recieved 2nd and 3rd degree burns. His LPN adoptive mother, Amy, neglected treatment for 2 days, then treated him with Tylenol and Vaseline. She took Liam to the hospital only after he went into respitory failure. Amy was sentence to 15 years for child endangering and involuntary manslaughter. Gary received 15-life for murder. Liam was adopted 5 months prior.
December 18, 2003 - Alex Pavlis: age 6, of Illinois, was beaten to death by his U.S. adopted mother, Irma, 6 weeks after his adoption from Russia. He was found to have 32 bruises, scars, and cuts. Irma had a difficult time with Alex. He banged his head on the walls, floors, and defecated and urinated on himself. Reports indicate that his injuries could have been self-inflicted. Irma was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

January 22, 2005 - Dennis Merryman:
age 8, born Dennis Uritsky, of Harford County, Maryland died after suffering cardiac arrest brought on by starvation. He weighed 37 pounds. Both parents, Samuel and Donna Merryman, were arrested and charged with manslaughter and first degree child abuse resulting in death and reckless endangerment. He was adopted almost 5 years ago.

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Anonymous said...

Schaumburg woman charged with killing adoptive sonEvelyn Holmes
December 22, 2003 (SCHAUMBURG, Ill.) - A Schaumburg mother charged with the murder of her six-year-old adopted son will stay in jail. An autopsy showed that Alex Pavlis died from a head injury.

A Cook County judge set a high bond for Irma Pavlis, despite her attorney's assertions that she is a one-time journalist and now stay at home mom -- who didn't beat her adopted son to death. While prosecutors say the woman abused the child, her attorney characterizes her as a woman who suffered two miscarriages and was overjoyed to finally have children.

Dino Pavlis wouldn't comment as he walked out of a Rolling Meadows courtroom a day after police accused his wife of killing their six-year-old adopted Russian son -- Alex Pavlis.

A judge set a $3 million bond for 32-year-old Irma Pavlis as she stood in court Monday morning charged with first-degree murder. Prosecutors say she confessed to the crime.

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Paramedics found Alex unresponsive Thursday afternoon in the family's Schaumburg home after Pavlis called 9-1-1 to report the boy wasn't breathing. He died at an area hospital. One of Palvis' attorneys admits the Mexican national may have hit the child, but says she didn't kill him.

"It's fair to say that in the upbringing of the children there was some reasonable discipline that the parents engaged in," said Stuart Goldberg, Pavlis attorney.

The Pavlis' adopted both -- Alex and his 5-year-old sister from the same Russian town last month after it was determined Mrs. Pavlis could not have children. She found the children by searching the internet.

"There was an agency in Russia and they had an independent person that they dealt with that worked with that agency in Russia," said Donna Rotunno, Pavlis attorney.

State child welfare authorities say the Pavlis' adoption was private. They went through all the legal channels by using a private agency to conduct the home study that is required by state agencies and immigration authorities for international adoptions. The home study turned up no criminal background or neglect charges for either parent.

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The Department of Children and Family Services says there was nothing illegal about the method the Pavlis' used to adopt the children. Some child welfare officials say going through a private agency may have given the couple the support they needed.

Irma Pavlis is due back in court next month

Anonymous said...

Did anyone hear the story on CBC radio this morning? OMG!!
Accoding to a leaked Auditor General Report, CAS in York, Peel, Toronto and Thunder Bay ripping off taxpayers...big asses bosses driving around in Cadillac Escalades, taking trip around the world without justification, billing gym memberships and personal trainers all on the PUBLIC tab, for god's sake...SCANDALOUS...all the while missing the mark when it comes to protecting children...
NO WONDER they don't want Ombudsman oversight!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Here's a transcript:

Subject: Auditor General Report
CBC: Ontario's Auditor General has found money the province provided for the protection of young children was misspent on expensive cars, meals and other perks for staff at some Children's Aid Societies. CBC News has obtained a final draft of the province's first value for money audit of Children's Aid which is to be released next week. The report looks at four of Ontario's biggest agencies in Toronto, York, Peel and Thunder Bay. The audit details the lack of controls on more than a billion dollars worth of taxpayers money that Ontario Children's Aid Societies spend every year, and as Margo Kelly reports, the Auditor also says the agencies aren't following the laws that protect children.

REPORTER: The Auditor's report contains disturbing details of misspent money. Several executives were given luxury vehicles including two SUV's worth more than $50,000. An employee had a staff car, but was also given $600 a month for the use of their own vehicle. One manager received a $2,000 a year gym membership and $650 every three months for a personal trainer. Numerous meals for child welfare staff at high end restaurants were expensed with no explanation. And the Auditor also questions expensive trips to the Caribbean, China and Buenos Aires.

MICHAEL DAVIS (Retired homicide detective): It's outrageous when you read it.

REPORTER: Retired homicide detective Michael Davis helped Ontario's Coroner review the deaths of hundreds of children who died while in the care of the Children's Aid. He's upset about the Auditor General's revelations about the lack of controls on hundreds of millions of dollars handed out to group and foster homes, and concerns that some services were never delivered.

DAVIS: Where is the paper trail with regard to the money that you're spending, the taxpayers money that you are spending, and...but where is the Minister in this?

REPORTER: Other findings illustrate how the societies aren't following the law to protect children. In one-third of cases reviewed, initial visits to children at risk were late by an average of three weeks, some children weren't seen at all. In the cases reviewed 90 per cent of the plans meant to keep children safe weren't completed as required and some were 10 months late. The Auditor asks why government funding for Ontario's Children's Aid Societies has more than doubled over six years, while the number of families served increased by only 40 per cent. The Children's Aid Societies have refused to comment, but CBC News has learned that the agencies have hired a public relations firm to help managed the damaging news. In their words - to preserve the reputation of Children's Aid Societies and their leaders. Margo Kelly, CBC News, Toronto.

Anonymous said...

From the CBC website:

AG report details improper spending at Ontario children's aid
Last Updated: Thursday, November 30, 2006 | 10:00 AM ET
CBC News
Ontario's auditor general has found stunning evidence of improper spending at children's aid societies, CBC News has learned.

CBC News has obtained a final draft of the province's first value for money audit of children's aid societies. The report looks at four of Ontario's biggest agencies, those in Toronto, York, Peel and Thunder Bay.

Calls were made to agencies in Toronto and Thunder Bay as well as the Ontario Association of the Children's Aid Societies, but no one would comment on the report before its official release next week.

The audit details the lack of controls on more than $1 billion in taxpayers' money that Ontario's children's aid societies spend every year.

The auditor's report contains disturbing details of allegedly misspent money.
For example, several executives were apparently given luxury vehicles - including two SUVs worth more than $50,000.
An employee had a staff car, but was also allegedly given $600 per month for the use of their own vehicle.
Numerous meals for child welfare staff at high-end restaurants were expensed, with no explanation.
The auditor also questions expensive trips to the Caribbean, China and Buenos Aires.
Other findings allege the societies aren't following the law to protect children.
In one-third of cases reviewed, initial visits to children at risk were late by an average of three weeks. Some children weren't seen at all.

In the report, the auditor asks why government funding for Ontario's children's aid societies has more than doubled over six years, while the number of families served increased by 40 per cent.

Retired homicide detective Michael Davis says the report makes him angry and disappointed. He's reviewed the deaths of hundreds of children who died while in the care of children's aid societies.

"I think the public is going to be outraged when they hear this," said Davis. "When they look at these perks being used by children's aid societies.

Anonymous said...

I think the public will be outraged to say the least and they should be. What were the social workers doing when Jeffrey Baldwin and his three innocent siblings, were locked in a chamber of horrors for years.

Anonymous said...

Provincial audit criticizes children's aid societies
Report finds pricey executive perks as kids wait for help
Dec. 1, 2006. 01:00 AM

Revelations that several children's aid societies have bought executives pricey SUVs, personal training sessions and trips abroad while children in risky homes wait too long to be checked by case workers put the Ontario government on the defensive yesterday.
The details, which opposition parties and the government's own child advocate called "disturbing," came in a rare leak of the provincial auditor general's report, which is to be released Tuesday.
The value-for-money audit centred on children's aid societies for Toronto, Peel, York Region and Thunder Bay.
Critics said it looks bad that vulnerable kids are in danger while the people responsible for their welfare are driving SUVs that in at least two cases cost more than $50,000.
"We've had inquests where children have died and where it's been determined that children's aid societies were not doing their job," said NDP Leader Howard Hampton.
"The children's aid societies are failing the very kids they're supposed to protect," Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory charged in the Legislature's daily question period.
The cabinet minister responsible for Ontario's 53 children's aid societies said she could not comment on the report until it's official next week, a response that further enraged critics calling on the government to immediately stop the "scandalous" spending.
Ontario taxpayers give children's aid societies almost $1.5 billion a year in funding.
"I am not hiding from anything. I think it's very appropriate that we allow the auditor general to release his final report," said Children and Youth Services Minister Mary Anne Chambers, who argued that making detailed comments would put her in contempt of the Legislature.
"I will look forward to taking whatever action is necessary," she added. "I'm dying to be able to speak."
Children's aid societies, for the most part, also declined comment.
"We feel confident that, when we are able to talk about the report as it relates to York Region, the people of our community will be reassured that they have been and will continue to be well served," spokeswoman Jennifer Grant said in a statement.
The Toronto society said the board of directors decides fringe benefits to executives.
"Part of executive compensation is considering what's necessary to keep top people ... in difficult jobs," said spokeswoman Melanie Persaud.
"We need good people to be leaders in child welfare."
A final draft of the audit, which did not specify which aid society did what, was obtained by CBC Radio.
Other findings:
A spot review of cases found one-third of initial visits to children at risk were an average of three weeks late, with some children never visited.
A staffer double-dipping by collecting a $600 monthly car allowance while having the use of a society-paid vehicle.
One society owned or leased a fleet of 50 vehicles, with half logging fewer than 10,000 kilometres a year and casting doubt on whether that is enough travel to justify that part of the fleet.
Two senior managers at one society getting luxury SUVs worth $53,000 and $59,000, well above the $30,000 allowed for the provincial government's deputy ministers.
"Questionable" business trips to conferences in Beijing, Buenos Aires and the Caribbean, including society staff accompanying children to visit their families in the islands.
Tuesday's report from the auditor general will look into other areas, including community colleges, hospitals, Hydro One, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan and school boards.

Anonymous said...

No minister, we can't wait


A sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach gave way to a bitter bile that rose in my throat as I listened to Ontario Children's Minister Mary Anne Chambers bob and weave yesterday.

She was asked to respond to the findings of a leaked draft report by the provincial auditor that slams four of the largest Children's Aid Societies (CAS) in the province -- Thunder Bay, Toronto, Peel Region and in York Region. The report was obtained by CBC Radio.

It said the auditor's investigation found some CAS executives were driving leased, luxury SUVs and that some senior staff had gym memberships and personal trainers, paid for out of CAS funds.

Among other questionable items, the report cited scores of trips to the Caribbean taken by staff members and children in their care, as well as personal trips to all-inclusive resorts.

The report said one of the societies paid $1,700 for a seven-day, all-inclusive trip to a resort in St. Maarten and another paid $4,000 for a one-week trip to St. Lucia. This for a caseworker to accompany a child returning to its biological family.

What is most shocking, though, is that the report says many children in need of CAS protection were not getting the care they need.

On average, in a third of cases, visits to vulnerable children were late by three weeks and some children weren't seen at all.

Chambers didn't have a response to any of this yesterday and simply came across as arrogant.

It is usual for ministers to be given a draft of an auditor's findings, before they are officially released, so they can respond. But Chambers wouldn't say if her ministry had done anything in light of the report's findings.

Grilled by Progressive Conservative leader John Tory during Question Period yesterday, Chambers responded: "The Leader of the Opposition is unnecessarily complicating things. This is really simple. Today is Thursday, November 30, 2006. The report from the auditor will be released on Tuesday, December 5, 2006. You can wait until then and I'll be very happy to respond at that time."

Yes, Minister, Tory can wait. But why should children in the care of the CAS have to wait? What about all those vulnerable little ones who need our help and who apparently aren't getting it?

Can they wait?

These allegations, if accurate, are a disgrace. And looking back over the years, children's aid societies in this province have not exactly covered themselves in glory.

Here are some of the names that keep going through my kind: Jordan Heikamp, Randal Dooley, Jeffrey Baldwin.

Little Jordan, just five weeks old, was left to starve to death in a women's shelter while under the watch of the Catholic Children's Aid Society in 1997. He weighed 4 lb. 2 oz when he died -- four ounces less than his birth weight.

Randal Dooley was beaten to death in 1998. Teachers at his school called the CAS who, incredibly, told them it was a police matter and were not heard from until two weeks after his death.

Remember Jeffrey Baldwin? The little boy was murdered in 2002 by his grandparents - who'd been awarded custody of the child by the CCAS -- even though both had previous records for child abuse?

It's too late for them.

But other unknown, abused, battered children out there who need help cannot wait -- especially if it is true that CAS officials are driving around in luxury cars and jetting off for tax -funded vacations.

What about good foster parents, who, for a small allowance, love and care for these children?

They're told there's no money for a raise? Well, if there's cash for cars and gyms and vacations for CAS execs then there's cash to help them in their important work.

What about the many dedicated front-line child care workers who work for a relative pittance? If they ask for a raise, are they going to be told there's no funding?

Apparently, we all have to wait until Tuesday to start getting some answers. Have a nice weekend, minister.

Anonymous said...

Blizzard in her typical stupid fashion, is giving far too much credit to John Tory. That man and his party blocked a bill giving access to many who simply wanted to see their own families - this after being sent to foster homes, and adopted by abusers. The numbers are huge.

Tory DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE CAS DISASTER. He is using this as a political weapon.

The rest of the article was very good but let's not get carried away in suggesting that Tory will fix it - he will bury it, as the purse strings of Big Brother are more important to him then children!!!

Anonymous said...

After all if you are blocking a bill (Bill 183)to let people find their own families, you are also blocking out the persons involved, and the public from knowing the corrupt merry go round of fraud and corruption with the CAS. Paranoid no, read Hansard for Frank Klees that actually had a small hint of "balls" in suggesting that opening adoption records, might open litigation.

They do not care about children, if they did they would have supported the Ontario Ombudsman in having oversight? Have they - NO!!!

Anonymous said...

And the Liberal's were on the right track until Bill 210 when hell arised from it. The NDP are trying but maybe what takes an overhaul is from the voices of the very people who were in the CAS system. And boy does one mass have a lot to say!!!

It is a putrid, corrupt system that has not been accountable since it's inception.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with the article in the Sun that foster strangers should be paid more money - in many cases you are paying child abusers money to abuse children.

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My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

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Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

* The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

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