Ontario Opioid Epidemic Plunges Children's Aid Societies Into Crisis...

Ontario Opioid Epidemic Plunges Children's Aid Societies Into Crisis...
Posted on April 6, 2019 | Derek Flegg | Written on April 6, 2019
Letter type:
Blog Post

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

The Progressive Conservative government recently announced that it would continue to fund the province’s supervised-injection and overdose-prevention sites. Some were surprised by the move: Doug Ford, after all, once said that he was “dead against” such sites — so much so that he put the opening of three overdose prevention sites on hold this summer, pending a review of Ontario’s drug strategy. Thankfully, the government seems to have drawn the same conclusion as many health experts: these sites save lives. But the good news came with caveats. A lot of them.
The 18 sites that received funding before the review will have to reapply to receive more. And the government has not only refused to fund pop-up services, such as tents: it has prohibited them. That’s an especially troubling move, considering the government has also capped the number of sites at 21. Almost 4,000 people in Canada died from opioid overdoses last year — the number is expected to rise in 2018.
Why would the government limit its ability to address the crisis?
But in the news first we have....
A 14-year-old girl is a ‘sexually mature young woman,’ not a child, CAS lawyer argues in sex abuse suit. NEWS Mar 24, 2019 by Jacques Gallant Toronto Star.
Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services tells the Star it disagrees with what its lawyer argued in an ongoing sexual abuse court case, but refused to say whether it plans to rectify the statement in court.
Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services. 820 Lakeview Drive Kenora Ontario P9N 3P7 Canada Phone: 807-467-5437 Fax: 807-467-5539.
A 14- or 15-year-old girl is not a child, but rather a "sexually mature young woman," according to a lawyer for a Northern Ontario children's aid society.
The statement by Toronto lawyer Gary McCallum is contained in a July 2018 affidavit in an ongoing civil court case, in which a woman is suing Kenora-Rainy River Districts Child and Family Services, claiming she was sexually abused as a child by her foster father in the 1980s while under the care of the agency's predecessor organization.
Affidavit. ... In our Plain Language Legal Dictionary, we define affidavit as “A written statement of facts, sworn to and signed by a deponent before a notary public or some other authority having the power to witness an oath.”
It was again referenced in a January 2019 ruling from the lengthy case, which is playing out in a Toronto court.
The statement has been described to the Star by other lawyers and a professor of social work as "offensive," "shocking," and "appalling" — doubly so because it was made by the lawyer for the very agency charged with protecting the most vulnerable children.
"This is outrageous," said Melissa Redmond, assistant professor of social work at Carleton University. "You represent the organization that is responsible for protecting children in this community, protecting children from exactly the sorts of horrific circumstances that this child found herself in."
Read more:
Man from London, Ont., facing sexual exploitation, child porn charges
Police overwhelmed by rampant, 'hidden evil' of child exploitation online
Redmond, whose research interests include child protection policy, said she can't understand why there have not been consequences for the statement. "I don't understand how this is in the public record and (Kenora CFS) have not been seen to distance themselves as quickly as possible and to talk about how they value the children in the community and the children they have served in the past."
Read more:
It is not necessary to be certain that a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report to a children’s aid society.
Under section 125 of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act every person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection must promptly report the suspicion and the information upon which it is based to a Children’s Aid Society. “Reasonable grounds” refers to the information that an average person, using normal and honest judgment, would need in order to decide to report. This standard has been recognized by courts in Ontario as establishing a lower threshold for reporting.
2014: Three former County foster children have reached out-of-court settlements with the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society for damages stemming from sexual abuse sustained while they were in the society’s care.
An order dismissing further action against the child welfare agency has been approved by a judge at the Prince Edward County superior court where the lawsuit was filed in April 2013. Court staff confirmed only three of the five cases have been settled to date, leaving two outstanding plaintiffs.
2018: Children’s Aid executive facing 20 charges in child abuse case. By Alexandra Mazur and Mike Postovit Global News
OPP has charged William Sweet, a resident of Picton, Ont., after allegations of wrongdoing during his work as the executive director of the Prince Edward County Children’s Aid Society between 2002 and 2010.
After investigating cases of children placed with foster parents who themselves were convicted of child abuse, this led the OPP to look into Sweet’s involvement as executive director of the child care organization.
The 67-year-old Picton resident was charged with 10 counts each of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and failure to provide the necessities of life. The accused appeared at the Ontario Court of Justice in Picton on May 2.
Sgt. Carolle Dionne, provincial media relations coordinator, says that although Sweet never fostered any children of his own, he is being charged because as she said, “he ought to have known better” than to place children with the foster parents who have since been convicted in child abuse cases.
For a period of eight years, nine foster children were placed with six foster parents who have since been convicted of sexual abuse against those children.
According to Dionne, Sweet’s investigation encompassed a review of those previous abuse investigations and convictions between 2013 and 2016. Police then conducted additional interviews, executed search warrants and seized evidence to put before the court for Sweet’s charges.
OPP officers are not commenting on specific details of the allegations as the matter is now before the courts.
Children’s Aid Society moves on
Mark Kartusch is the current executive director of the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society. In 2012, after the Ministry of Children and Youth Services reviewed the Prince Edward County Children Services, Sweet left his post, and his branch dissolved. What came from that was an amalgamation of several children’s aid offices, an organization which Kartusch now heads.
He says that Sweet’s charges are bringing up bad memories, but that he hopes people will have faith in the workers.
“We didn’t have a lot of people coming forward to become foster parents,” said Kartusch, although he said that things have changed in the last few years.
He also emphasized that events like those that happened to the children placed out of the Prince Edward County children’s aid are highly unusual.
“Kids are safe in foster homes,” Kartusch emphasized.
He finished by saying that although there are employees from the now defunct Prince Edward Country chapter working within the Highland Shores organization, they were not involved in any criminal activity.
“The charges are isolated with Bill,” said Kartusch about Sweet.
Ontario group-home owner faces sex assault charges.
The owner of a group-home agency with close to 40 of Ontario's most disturbed teenagers in its care has been charged with two counts of sexual assault, the latest sign of trouble in an industry looking after thousands of the province's children.
Stephen Mitchell, 40, the owner and executive director of Mitchell Group Homes, was charged by the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service this week, after two episodes of unwelcome sexual contact last fall with a female group-home worker who called police. The employee no longer works for the company.
A few more who had special relationships.
Maple Ridge youth worker charged with sex assault, child pornography: (March 14, 2019)
A youth care worker with the Maple Ridge School District has been charged with production and possession of child pornography as well as sexual assault and sexual interference.
RCMP say the 52 year-old Daniel Jon Olson appeared in provincial court in Port Coquitlam BC for offences that are alleged to have occurred between 2008 and 2019.
:One count of possessing child pornography.
:One count of making, printing, publishing or
possessing for the purpose of publication
child pornography.
:Eight counts of sexual interference.
:Two counts of sexual assault with a weapon.
According to Ridge Meadows RCMP, the detachment's Serious Crime Unit is continuing to investigate Olson, who has been released from custody with conditions.
The school district says Olson worked in a number of elementary and secondary schools over the course of his employment..
Sylvia Russell, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District superintendent, sent a notice to parents in the district on Thursday. "The charges are very serious and deeply concerning, the notice reads."
The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district says in a letter to parents that Olson is a child and youth care worker who has worked in a number of elementary and secondary schools over the years.
It says Olson has been on unpaid leave since the district was notified of his arrest.
Superintendent Sylvia Russell says in the letter that the safety and well-being of students is the district’s first priority.
“While we have no first-hand knowledge about the charges, we are informing all our families out of an abundance of caution so that parents/guardians can direct any information they may have about this matter directly to the Ridge Meadows RCMP,” said Russell.
Neglect is one of the most common child protection concerns in Ontario.
Mary Ballantyne, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, discusses how Children’s Aid Societies help families dealing with this issue.
How is neglect a form of child abuse?
A child who is neglected is consistently not having their vital needs met. That could mean poor nutrition, lack of attention to hygiene, and so on. From a child welfare perspective, neglect is a concern because it ultimately affects a child’s ability to thrive.
With very young children, neglect is obviously a real, immediate risk. Inadequate feeding can be life threatening, and lack of attention to hygiene can lead to serious illness. As children mature, neglect might not be a matter of life and death, but it does affect how a child manages day-to-day.
A hungry child will struggle in school and can be bullied and ridiculed by peers because of poor hygiene. As children enter adolescence, we start seeing the impacts of neglect on their behaviour, including lower self-esteem and an inability to engage in school because they lack the confidence and skills.
Eliminating the Ontario Child Advocate’s Office a mistake
By Marv Bernstein Opinion Birgitte Granofsky Mon., Nov. 19, 2018.
Waking up to the news Thursday morning that the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, 2007 would be repealed, and that the Ontario Child Advocate’s Office would be closed, and its duties transferred to the Ombudsman’s Office, was like waking up to a whole new reality, one where young people’s voices are silenced and rights curtailed.
Hopefully, this recent announcement is a correctable misunderstanding and the government still means to honour the child-centred practice stipulated in the new Child, Youth and Family Services Act. That act guarantees children and youth in care, or in receipt of child welfare services, a voice and a “right to express their own views freely and safely … and to be informed, in language suitable to their understanding, of the existence and role of [the Child Advocate’s Office] and of how [that Office] may be contacted.”
Ontario’s child advocate had 27 on-going investigations into foster homes as province shuts him down. National News | November 20, 2018 by Kenneth Jackson. APTN News.
After first dealing with the shock of learning through the media that his office was being axed by the Ford government, Ontario’s child advocate’s focus shifted and it was not about his future.
Irwin Elman began thinking of the children his office is trying to help.
More so the 27 individual investigations currently on-going into residential care, like group homes and foster care said Elman.
Agencies and service providers funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) are legally required to inform the Ontario Child Advocate when they become aware of an incident where a child or youth who has had any involvement with a children’s aid society in the past 12 months dies or has suffered serious bodily harm. The agencies must provide this notification in writing without unreasonable delay.
“I have been very clear what I think about this change. I absolutely do not agree with it. Now I have been working, thinking and turning my mind to how we can we preserve all the things we do,” said Elman, 61, Tuesday.
He said right now it is “unclear” what happens to those investigations if he isn’t able to complete them before new legislation is passed that will officially close his office.
“We’re talking to the ombudsman to ensure any investigation that isn’t wrapped up transfers over. We don’t know where the government’s mind is,” said Elman.
“We intend to complete them. Our office expects those investigations will go over if they are not completed. We will fight to ensure that happens.”
He also said more investigations are expected to start and that the province is notified each time one is opened.
Elman couldn’t speak specifically to any individual investigation, just that they are based on complaints his office received into group and foster care homes.
APTN News knows one of them appears to be Johnson Children’s Services (JCS) which operated three foster homes in Thunder Bay when Tammy Keeash died in May 2017.
APTN reported last week that the three homes were closed after Keeash’s death but had been investigated at least seven times within a year of her dying.
This was all found in an on-going court battle between two Indigenous child welfare agencies fighting over jurisdiction. In documents filed as part of the litigation the advocate’s office first wrote Dilico Anishinabek Family Care of its intention to investigate JSC in August 2016. It appears, from the court documents, Dilico asked the advocate’s office to wait until the agency first investigated JSC.
It was then again confirmed in documents the advocate’s office was investigating JSC following Keeash’s death.
“We can’t allow Indigenous children to fall through the cracks of saying ‘oh you called this ombudsman’s office’ and they’ll sit in Toronto and they’ll tell you use a complaints process. Tell that to a 15-year-old First Nations child, to use a complaint process. When our process is we will go out and stand with the child and walk them through some of the options they have to ensure their voices are heard,” said Elman.
“The ombudsman is not used to working with children. The ombudsman doesn’t have any ability, yet, or capacity, yet, to use an Indigenous lens in its work but we have strived to develop one.”
Elman’s term officially ends Friday as the child advocate. Before he learned his office was being closed he was supposed to be attending a meeting with the provincial government Nov. 26 to discuss what the province is going to do about problems with residential care.
He’s unsure if he’ll still be invited to that meeting if he’s told between now and Friday he is no longer the advocate.
The meeting was scheduled after Ontario’s chief coroner released the findings of the so-called expert panel report into the deaths of 12 children living at group or foster homes in Ontario between 2014 and 2017. Eight were Indigenous and included Keeash.
The panel of experts picked by the coroner reviewed each child’s death and provided recommendations after finding the system failed each of them and continues to do so.
But it wasn’t news to those that have been listening for the last 10 years since the child advocate’s office was first opened.
“This is not news,” said Elman of the report. “We supported the process but we were sort of astounded that people pretended like this is the first they ever heard about it.”
Regardless, if it created action by the government Elman supported that.
But the first move the Ontario government publicly made after the report was released in September was to announce the closure of his office.
That means Elman will be the first and last child advocate in the province.
Tags: child advocate, Featured, ford government, foster homes, Ontario, ontario government, tammy keeash, Thunder Bay.
More than a tragedy' Ontario child advocate says of youth who die when taken into care.
Irwin Elman says he still wants inquests for every child who dies while in care of child welfare. Matt Prokopchuk · CBC News · Posted: Nov 28, 2017 7:15 AM ET.
Ontario's child and youth advocate Irwin Elman says a coroner's review of 11 young people who died while in care of child welfare services has to have the children at its core. (CBC)
The review to explore the deaths of 11 young people in Ontario who died while in the care of child welfare agencies must, at its core, focus on the children's stories, according to the province's advocate for children and youth.
Ontario's chief coroner, Dirk Huyer, confirmed that the months-long "expert review" will probe how the youth were cared for when they were placed in homes or facilities away from their communities, and issues that may have arisen.
Grassy Narrows teen's death to be part of 'expert review' of youth who died in child welfare care
"I think it's really important," Children and Youth Advocate Irwin Elman said of the review. "I'm not ready to say it's something that should happen instead of an inquest [but] I will support it." Huyer said the review does not preclude inquests from being called into any of the young people's deaths, something Elman also acknowledged.
Elman said he wants to make sure "the children, through this process, are honoured."
"That means their lives are explored with care, with honour and wonder about what we can do so that others don't face a similar fate."
Elman confirmed that he is not one of the seven members of the panel who will be charged with taking a closer look at how the young people — seven of whom are Indigenous and from the northwest part of the province — died, what systemic issues may have been present as well as coming up with recommendations. He said, however, that he will be involved in other ways.
"If families require advocacy support in this process, the coroner's asked us to be available to them," he said. "We would start by ensuring ... that families have, if they're going to be involved, have emotional support ... because this is an arduous process."
Elman added that his office will also help facilitate discussion and publicize any recommendations that come out of the review.
'More than a tragedy'
While Elman said he still wants to see an inquest called "every time a child dies in a residential care facility," he added that this process still has the potential to shed some light on an important issue.
"For me, when the state ... says to a child, 'you are coming with us for your own safety and protection,' that's a covenant we make with that child," he said. "When those children, who have had a promise made to them by the province die ... this is more than a tragedy."
"It's a broken covenant to a child."
One of the deaths being examined by the panel is that of Azraya Kokopenace, a 14-year-old from Grassy Narrows First Nation who was found dead in Kenora in 2016, two days after police dropped her off at the local hospital.
At the time, she was, by her own request, in the care of an agency in the city so she could receive counselling after the death of her brother Calvin in 2014 from mercury poisoning — a decades-old, and ongoing, heath crisis in Grassy Narrows.
SPECIAL FEATURE: Children Of the Poisoned River
Azraya's family has been calling for an inquest into her death; their lawyer told CBC News that hasn't changed in light of the coroner's decision to hold the panel review, but the family will cooperate with it. Elman said he echoes those sentiments.
"This process (the panel review) is a collective process, bringing young people who had died together, in some ways," Elman said. "For me, the process elevates their voice but when you do that, you can sometimes miss — and that would be my worry — the distinct voice of individual children."
"If her voice — and her family feels her voice — is not heard in the review's report, then I think another process is necessary to honour her," he continued. "An inquest, from my point of view, can do that."
The panel's report is expected to be complete in the spring or summer of 2018.
“It is stunning to me how these children... are rendered invisible while they are alive and invisible in their death,” said Irwin Elman, Ontario’s advocate for children and youth. Between 90 and 120 children and youth connected to children’s aid die every year.
2018: Vulnerable children are being warehoused and forgotten.
The report describes a fragmented system with no means of monitoring quality of care, where ministry oversight is inadequate, caregivers lack training, and children are poorly supervised.
By LAURIE MONSEBRAATEN Social Justice Reporter SANDRO CONTENTA Feature Writer. Tues., Sept. 25, 2018.
The expert panel convened by Ontario chief coroner Dirk Huyer found a litany of other problems, including:
Evidence that some of the youths were "at risk of and/or engaged in human trafficking."
A lack of communication between child welfare societies.
Poor case file management.
An "absence" of quality care in residential placements.
Eleven of the young people ranged in age from 11 to 18. The exact age of one youth when she died wasn't clear in the report.
Dr. Dirk Huyer said the need for change is starkly spelled out in a report commissioned by his office after 12 youth in the care of a children's aid society or Indigenous Child Wellbeing Society died over a three-and-a-half-year stretch from 2014 to mid 2017.
Two thirds of those children were Indigenous, most died by suicide, and all contended with mental health struggles while living away from home.
Of the 12 cases examined by the report, eight were Indigenous youth who came from families that showed signs of "intergenerational trauma." They also routinely dealt with the effects of poverty in their remote northern communities, including inadequate housing, contaminated drinking water, and lack of access to educational, health and recreational resources, the report said.
Once the child welfare system became involved, the report found many of the children bounced between numerous residential placements ranging from formal care arrangements with more distant relatives to group homes hundreds of kilometres away from family.
The report found the 12 children lived in an average of 12 placements each. One one young girl stayed in 20 different placements over 18 months, the report said.
All the children had a history of harming themselves, but most received little to no treatment for underlying mental health issues, it said.
Eight killed themselves, two deaths were ruled accidental, one was undetermined, and the death of one 14-year-old girl was ultimately deemed a homicide, the report said.
Grassy Narrows teen's death to be part of 'expert review' of youth who died in child welfare care
Ontarios Most Vulnerable Children Kept In The Shadows.
Michelle McQuigge , The Canadian Press. Published Tuesday, September 25, 2018.
Between 2014\15 the Ontario children's aid society claim to have spent $467.9 million dollars providing protective services that doesn't seem to extent to the 90 to 120 children that die in Ontario's foster care and group homes that are overseen and funded by the CAS.
In a National Post feature article in June 2009, Kevin Libin portrayed an industry in which abuses are all too common. One source, a professor of social work, claims that a shocking 15%-20% of children under CAS oversight suffer injury or neglect.
Several CAS insiders whom Libin interviewed regard the situation as systemically hopeless.
A clinical psychologist with decades of experience advocating for children said, “I would love to just demolish the system and start from scratch again.”
“There are lots of kids in group homes all over Ontario and they are not doing well — and everybody knows it,” says Kiaras Gharabaghi, a member of a government-appointed panel that examined the residential care system in 2016.
Between 2008/2012 natural causes was listed as the least likely way for a child in care to die at 7% of the total deaths reviewed while "undetermined cause" was listed as the leading cause of death of children in Ontario's child protection system at only 43% of the total deaths reviewed.
92 children equals 43% of the deaths reviewed by the PDRC. 92 mystery deaths and like every other year no further action was taken to determine the cause...
Use of 'behaviour-altering' drugs widespread in foster, group homes.
2014.. Almost half of children and youth in foster and group home care aged 5 to 17 — 48.6 percent — are on drugs, such as Ritalin, tranquilizers and anticonvulsants, according to a yearly survey conducted for the provincial government and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). At ages 16 and 17, fully 57 per cent are on these medications.
In group homes, the figure is even higher — an average of 64 percent of children and youth are taking behaviour-altering drugs. For 10- to 15-year-olds, the number is a staggering 74 per cent.
“Why are these kids on medication? Because people are desperate to make them functional,” Baird says, and “there’s so little else to offer.
Yet if the parents take medication to help make them more "functional" it's a reason for to keep a file open or apprehend a child, not render assistance or relief.
The figures are found in “Looking After Children in Ontario,” a provincially mandated survey known as OnLAC. It collects data on the 7,000 children who have spent at least one year in care. After requests by the Star, the 2014 numbers were made public for the first time.
What’s worse is that the number of children prescribed dangerous drugs is on the rise. Doctors seem to prescribe medication without being concerned with the side-effects.
Worldwide, 17 million children, some as young as five years old, are given a variety of different prescription drugs, including psychiatric drugs that are dangerous enough that regulatory agencies in Europe, Australia, and the US have issued warnings on the side effects that include suicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior.
According to Fight For Kids, an organization that “educates parents worldwide on the facts about today’s widespread practice of labeling children mentally ill and drugging them with heavy, mind-altering, psychiatric drugs,” says over 10 million children in the US are prescribed addictive stimulants, antidepressants and other psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs for alleged educational and behavioral problems.
In fact, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World, every day, 2,500 youth (12 to 17) will abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time (4). Even more frightening, prescription medications like depressants, opioids and antidepressants cause more overdose deaths (45 percent) than illicit drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and amphetamines (39 percent) combined. Worldwide, prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death.
Strange that an agency that is against any form of corporal punishment isn't against giving children to people that are so willing deny children their rights as they drug, restrain and label them "problem children."
Ontario Opioid Epidemic Plunges Children's Aid Societies Into Crisis...
Agencies from Sault Ste. Marie to Brantford are laying off workers as the number of kids who need care mounts.
Kim Streich-Poser has tried to reduce her staff with early retirement offers, but most of them are too dedicated to their work to take the bait.
"We've got people who are very, very committed to working with some of the most vulnerable children and families in our community," the executive director of the Children's Aid Society of Algoma told HuffPost Canada.
Streich-Poser, who is based in Sault Ste. Marie, says she's given layoff notices to six of her 141 employees and is negotiating other "displacements" with their union. She'll also close Algoma's office in Hornepayne, Ont. and reduce two full-service district offices in Wawa and Blind River into small satellite offices with one employee each.
Painkiller: Inside the Opioid Crisis.
Painkiller delves into the opioid epidemic. It features interviews with families who have lost loved ones, as well as healthcare workers and policy experts who question a health system that favours corporate profits over patients.
“Harmful Impacts” is the title of the commission report written by the Honourable Judith C. Beaman after two years of study. After reading it, “harmful” seems almost to be putting it lightly. Out of the over 16 000 tests the commission examined 56 cases in which the flawed Motherisk tests, administered by the Motherisk lab between 2005 and 2015, were determined to have a “substantial impact” on the decisions of child protection agencies, led to children being permanently removed from their families.
Parents rights were ripped out by the roots along with their children...
Lives were ruined. Parents’ lives, and quite possibly children’s lives. Siblings and grandparents and other family members’ lives, too. Irreversibly ruined. And in many cases, it seems this was allowed to happen primarily because people were poor.
“In many of the cases we reviewed, when a Motherisk hair test came back positive, CAS (Children’s Aid Society) workers focused solely on the apparent substance use instead of considering any actual effect on parenting,” Beaman writes. Use was considered proof of addiction, and addiction was considered proof of “an inability to parent.” That, sometimes in the absence of any other meaningful evidence at all, led to children being taken away from their parents.
Removal from the home — permanent removal — is not supposed to be a move taken lightly. The report goes over the legal principles, laying out that it should be a last resort. It is the “capital punishment” of child protection, according to one citation, absolutely devastating to parents, and for children it is “often the beginning of a life sentence.”
Yet in the cases reviewed here, it is imposed, often apparently cavalierly and without even a trial, for reasons that amount to a punishment for being poor.
Rich parents who are alcoholics, after all, are not having their children taken from them after a single relapse. Few rich parents, in fact, are having their children taken from them at all.
“The underlying issue in many child protection cases before the court is poverty,” the report says. Much of the time, Beaman writes she heard what families most needed was help with groceries or babysitting, counselling or mental health treatment, help providing safe shelter.
What these parents and children needed, in other words, was help.
Helping struggling families takes billions of dollars in resources families need, like 5160 unregistered workers and large costly office buildings obviously of which OACAS admits in their own report over 1500 of them are not qualified by College standards. And as we see all too clearly, they are the systematic ruination of thousands of people’s lives.
What they got instead was the irrevocable breakup of their families. The loss for life of any contact at all with those in the world they loved most, and those who loved them most. They got harm, permanent harm.
It is hard to think of anything worse than that.
By EDWARD KEENAN Star Columnist Fri., March 2, 2018.
Respecting The Canadian Constitution And Our Procedural Safeguards..
The Motherisk Commission details years of rights infringements by courts. "If the same problems were identified in criminal court, there would be a huge public outcry." Tammy Law.
(put up your hand if you think CAS workers would recognize their own rights were being violated in a court of law)
There is a major power imbalance between an impoverished parent (we know that families of low socio-economic status are hugely over-represented in the child welfare system and race has little to do with it) and the state funded agency. To guard against such an imbalance, it is critical that our legal system respect the time-tested procedural safeguards developed to specifically ensure that the disadvantaged party is treated fairly.
Yet according to the Motherisk report, these safeguards were ignored. The report describes a litany of procedural injustices perpetrated on parents: parents were pressured to consent to testing; were not informed of their right to reject testing; they had adverse inferences drawn against them when they rejected testing; they were required to prove the unreliability of testing instead of the other way around; and they were refused the right to cross-examine Motherisk "experts" at summary judgment motions.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees procedural fairness when the state interferes with fundamental personal rights, such as the right by parents to care for their children. Ironically enough, the issue of taking body samples (such as hair for testing) without proper consent for the purpose of criminal investigations was found to be an infringement of the Charter 20 years ago by the Supreme Court.
The problems detailed in the Motherisk report’s 278 pages are too numerous to go into in detail. They document the many problems with the SickKids lab’s testing and with the child protection system’s overreliance on those results. The hair testing process produced inconsistent and untrustworthy results despite being perceived as carrying the unimpeachable weight of scientific authority. That much we pretty much knew because of earlier reporting, though the detailed breakdown of it and the specific case references make the injustice of it sickeningly vivid.
According to the Toronto Star out of the cases they reviewed Motherisk reported positive results 93% of the time and lets say Motherisk only strongly influence decisions to apprehend children in 56 cases, how many times did Motherisk results strongly influence the decision to keep files open and how much did that cost the taxpayers?
The 2017-2018 Expenditure Estimates set out details of the operating and capital spending requirements of the Ministry of Children for the fiscal year commencing April 1, 2017.
Restated total operating expense $4,369,258,414
A Professional Cover Story...
(CAS funded) Research indicates that many professionals overreport families based on stereotypes around racial identities. Both Indigenous and Africa-Canadian children and youth are overrepresented in child welfare due to systemic racism.
But don't worry, it's now even easier for those prejudicial, biased racist bastard teachers and other registered professionals to share your information with the children aid society.
A document called “Yes, You Can. Dispelling the Myths About Sharing Information with Children’s Aid Societies” was jointly released by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Advocate. The document, targeted at the racist professionals who work with children, is a critical reminder that a call to Children’s Aid is not a privacy violation when you claim it concerns the safety of a child. In fact, professionals who work with children have a special responsibility, as stated in the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, to protect the safety and well-being of children.
Motherisk hair test evidence tossed out of Colorado court 2 decades before questions raised in Canada.
A Motherisk expert testified for the defense in a Colorado murder case. The judge mocked the lab’s processes. But the case remained virtually unknown in Ontario until now.
For more than two decades, Motherisk performed flawed hair-strand tests on thousands of vulnerable families across Canada, influencing decisions in child protection cases that separated parents from their children and sometimes children from their siblings. (CBC)
Judge rejects proposed class-action over Motherisk drug-testing scandal.
By RACHEL MENDLESON Investigative Reporter. Thu., Nov. 2, 2017.
Parents lose second bid to launch class-action suit against Motherisk over flawed hair tests.
By RACHEL MENDLESON Investigative Reporter. Tues., Nov. 27, 2018.
Five things to know about Motherisk hair testing..
1. The tests were preliminary
The tests performed by Motherisk relied on the unconfirmed results of its enzyme-linked immuno-sorbent assay (ELISA) tests.
ELISA is often used as a screening tool before more in-depth tests are undertaken. It can be used in toxicology as a rapid presumptive screen for certain classes of drugs. It’s useful if you need to screen a large number of samples when the presumption that only a small percentage will test positive. But it’s not definitive and the results can be erroneously interpreted.
The Motherisk Lab did not follow-up its presumed positive ELISA results with follow-on in-depth tests. Therefore, the results simply could not be relied upon to provide the absolute certainty needed.
As Craig Chatterton, a forensic toxicologist and a proponent of hair sample testing, correctly explains in the CBC report on Motherisk, a preliminary test like ELISA can be spot on - but, tragically for the families implicated, it can be 100% incorrect, too.
Susan Lang’s report went on to say "No forensic toxicology laboratory in the world uses ELISA testing the way MTDL [Motherisk] did."
2. Motherisk had no written standard operating procedures
Having standard, professional operating procedures in place is one of the central pillars of any testing environment, not just hair sample testing.
In this regard, Motherisk failed egregiously. The Lang report found no evidence of any written standard operating procedures at Motherisk. This raises serious doubts about the reliability and, crucially, the standardisation of its testing procedures.
Both forensic and clinical laboratories should have standard operating procedures in place for each of the tests they perform. Motherisk had no clear, documented procedures which means the processes could have varied substantially in each individual case, calling into question, rightly, the integrity of the lab’s results.
3. No transparency
Motherisk’s next misstep was the lack of formal process and documentation meant that it was almost impossible for any third party to robustly assess its results.
When the entire process isn’t adequately captured, it becomes easy for the lab to skirt over anomalies and simplify conclusions.
At Cansford Labs, for instance, we share the evidence in full. This is an absolutely vital component when the test will be involved in a highly sensitive matter like child custody.
The fact that Motherisk offered no insight into how its results were arrived at beggars belief.
4. Inadequate training and oversight
The inadequacy and transparency issues within Motherisk seeped all the way into the employees at the lab.
From reading the Lang report, Motherisk scientists were operating without any forensic training or oversight. The ELISA tests were inadequate, but even if they weren’t, the individuals interpreting the results weren’t properly trained.
Nobody at Motherisk, including, rather incredibly, Dr. Koren himself, had the proper training.
The lack of training manifested in all manner of amateurish mistakes. Staff routinely failed to wash hair samples before analysis, for example. One mother tested positive for alcohol because her alcohol-laced hairspray had not been washed off the sample. With the right training and process, these issues could easily have been avoided.
5. A compromised chain of custody
In the CBC report into Motherisk, one mother recalls how her second test was conducted after she disputed the first test’s results: “With my second test, the hair was done in the social worker’s office with the scissors out of her desk, tape off her desk and cardboard from the trash.”
Her sample tested positive for crystal meth, but laughably when she next saw her “hair sample”, the hair that allegedly belonged to her was longer and a different colour.
It should go without saying, but any robust testing process requires professionalism throughout. It’s not just about testing the sample, but also about how the sample is collected and treated.
The chain of custody is of paramount importance. Trusted professionals need to be present at every stage of the process, guided by the lab that will do the testing, and the procedures need to be the same for every single case.
Motherisk was an aberration:
When things go as wrong as they did at Motherisk, it’s important not to stick our heads in the sand. Especially when it involves vulnerable individuals.
But Motherisk wasn't just an aberration IT WAS AN ABERRATION that SPECIFICALLY targeted impoverished families.
The science of hair sample testing remains a powerful tool when the analysis is done correctly, appropriately, with quality control and assurances and interpreted by qualified experts.
Indeed, it’s only right that for vulnerable individuals, that nothing but the best will do. A fact that Motherisk seemingly forgot.
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (the College) regulates the practice of social work and social service work in Ontario in accordance with the Social Work and Social Service Work Act, 1998 and the regulations and bylaws made under that Act.
Regulation of child protection workers by Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers: CUPE responds.
Please send or adapt any of the following letters to the Executive Director of your CAS.
DRAFT Letter 2 – Professionalism
I understand that there are plans in the works to force anyone who works in child protection to register with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers.
One of the reasons given for this change is that regulation will result in higher quality services and bring greater professionalism to the field and that this will improve the standard of child protection work in Ontario.
I would like to point out that a failure to meet standards of care in child protection work is very rarely the result of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity on the part of individual child protection workers.
The stated purpose of the College is to protect the public from unqualified, incompetent or unfit practitioners.
But children’s aid societies already set those standards and ensure their adherence: they determine the job qualifications. They deal with employees they deem to be unqualified or incompetent. And CASs decide whether child protection work in their area can be performed by someone who holds a Bachelor’s degree and has child welfare experience.
I may not hold a BSW or MSW degree, enjoy membership in the College or be subject to its regulation. But I am a professional practitioner in the child protection sector and, as such, I cannot countenance this move toward the regulation of the child protection workforce. I am resolved to fight it at every step of the way and instead campaign for the measures that will bring real benefits to at-risk youth, children and families.
DRAFT Letter 6 – Privacy and discipline
The move toward a regulated child protection workforce in Ontario gives me cause for serious concern about my privacy as a child protection worker.
One of the rationalizations for registration and regulation with the College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers is the restoration of public confidence in Ontario’s child protection system.
But violating my rights to privacy and confidentiality will do nothing to achieve this goal.
:::: What right to privacy?::::
A person employed by or acting as an agent for another person, private agency or government is not on their own time and have no right to privacy PERSONAL OR OTHERWISE.
Follow the link to read a lot more of this bullshit...
The report Toward Regulation also notes that the “clearest path forward” would be for the provincial government to "again" legislate the necessity of professional regulation, which would be an appallingly heavy-handed move according to the CAS and CUPE.
You can hear former MPP Frank Klees say in a video linked below the very reason the the social worker act was introduced and became law in 1998 was to regulate the "children's aid societies."
Listen as former MPP Frank Klees explains why the government has the only oversight of the children's aid and why the society shouldn't be regulated by the College of Social Work and why the government won't allow the Ombudsman or the Privacy Commissioner to investigate complaints or any other matters regarding the society.
All this sociopath did with this speech is explain how they were going to let the children's aid society get away with refusing professional regulation and public accountability and why. They all have something to hide and is the one thing that unites them all, conservatives, liberals and the NDP..
Why continue to fund the CAS with billions of dollars after the agency refused regulation and professional oversight in 1998?
Without deterrents what prevents child protection social workers from being careless and a danger to children?
The union representing child protection social workers is firmly opposed to oversight from a professional college and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, which regulates and funds child protection, is so far staying out of it.
"It is unclear what additional role college registration would provide" says Her Royal Majesty Mary Ballantyne the First, Defender of the Children, CEO of OACAS, Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Guelph and a Masters of Industrial Relations – Human Resource Management from Queens University and is a member of the completely independent and impartial PDRC.

"Child, Youth and Family Services Act, 2017 proclaimed in force."

The new regulation was updated to only require Local Directors of Children’s Aid Societies to be registered with the College.


The majority of local directors, supervisors, child protection workers and adoption workers have social work or social service work education, yet fewer than 10% of the over 5000 workers are registered with the OCSWSSW.

Unfortunately, many CASs have been circumventing professional regulation of their staff by requiring that staff have social work education yet discouraging those same staff from registering with the OCSWSSW.

Ontarians have a right to assume that, when they receive services that are provided by someone who is required to have a social work degree (or a social service work diploma) — whether those services are direct (such as those provided by a child protection worker or adoption worker) or indirect (such as those provided by a local director or supervisor) — that person is registered with, and accountable to, the OCSWSSW.

Submission-re-Proposed-Regulations-under-the-CYFSA-January-25-2018. OCSWSSW May 1, 2018


If you have any practice questions or concerns related to the new CYFSA, please contact the Professional Practice Department at 416-972-9882 or 1-877-828-9380 or email practice@ocswssw.org.




About The Author

Advocates for family preservation against unwarranted intervention by government funded non profit agencies and is a growing union for families and other advocates speaking out against the children's aid society's... More