Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Council Letter to MPP Jim Watson Regarding CAS Memberships

An open letter to Ottawa West--Nepean MPP Jim Watson regarding his support for Private Members Motion #41 to have CAS publicly advertise their memberships.

UPDATE: FEBRUARY 25, 2009 - Called Jim Watson's Office to ask for status and was told I should receive a response soon.

PREVIOUS UPDATE:
Jim Watson's Office acknowledges receipt of Council's open letter.


Subject: RE: Request for Response - Private Members Motion 41
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 09:04:48 -0500
From: dmcgee@liberal.ola.org
To: afterfostercare@hotmail.com

Hi Mr. Dunn,

This is to confirm receipt of your email to Mr. Watson.

Thank you for writing, a reply will be provided shortly.

Sincerely,

Danielle McGee

Constituency Assistant
Office of Jim Watson, MPP Ottawa West-Nepean
Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing
201-2249 Carling Ave.
Ottawa, Ontario
K2B 7E9
(613) 721-8075 Telephone
(613) 721-5756 Facsimilie
dmcgee@liberal.ola.org


Original Letter to Jim Watson


FROM:
John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
12-1160 Meadowlands Drive East
Ottawa, ON
K2E 6J2
613-220-1039
johndunn@afterfostercare.ca
http://www.afterfostercare.ca

TO:
Jim Watson - MPP Ottawa West-Nepean
201 - 2249 Carling Ave
Ottawa ON K2B 7E9
Tel: 613-721-8075
Fax: 613-721-5756
E-mail: jwatson.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Jim Watson,

My name is John Dunn and I am one of your constituents. Private Member's Motion #41 as introduced to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario by Ontario MPP Andrea Horwath June 2nd, 2008 is a motion which was advocated for by the Foster Care Council of Canada and reads as follows:

41. Ms. Horwath - That, in the opinion of this House, the Government of Ontario should instruct all Children's Aid Societies to publish information electronically on their websites, where available, and in print format, readily accessible in the lobby area of each CAS office, which informs the public of their ability to attend and make presentations at the regularly scheduled Board of Director's meetings, the schedule and Minutes of those meetings, and further, in the same manner as mentioned above, to inform the public of the fact that CAS memberships are available to people who reside in, or who conduct business within the jurisdiction of each CAS, to provide details on how to apply for membership, and to provide access to the Society's By-Laws in the same manner. Filed on June 2, 2008.

The purpose of this motion is to raise awareness of the fact that the Children's Aid Societies should be making known the fact that members of their local community can join their CAS as a member so that they can monitor the agency to ensure it is accountable to the citizens in its local area and to support the work they do which is beneficial to the community.

Children's Aid Societies in Ontario, including the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa which has jurisdiction over and affects the lives of the constituents in your riding on a daily basis regularly engage in making decisions and performing actions which have serious, life-altering and often life-long lasting impacts on children and youth in Ontario as part of their government delegated duties. These life-long lasting impacts are the service outcomes of Children's Aid Societies and are very well known and documented to be both positive and negative.

In various response letters received by the Council over the past several years, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, you yourself, other MPP's in Ontario, the Ombudsman of Ontario, the Child and Family Services Review Board, and, even the Ministry of Government Services who is supposed to oversee the organizations incorporated under the Corporations Act have stated quite clearly that they do not have any authority over Children's Aid Societies because of the fact that Societies are "autonomous bodies governed by a community elected Board of Directors" and therefore cannot get involved in their activities.

The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, which has as its mandate the provision of child-welfare services to approximately 1 Million people, does not in any way advertise publicly the fact that they hold Board meetings on a Monthly basis which are open to the public, nor do they advertise that members of the community can apply for memberships with their agency and reasons as to why they might want to do so. The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa also only has approximately 54 members, 17 of which are members of the Board of Directors leaving only 37 people to oversee the actions and decisions of the Society and its Board.

During the last Annual General Meeting of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa which I attended it appeared that most of the attendees of the AGM were not even members of the Society since at any time a vote was held regarding the election of Board members or other matters, not more than five hands were raised at a time, most of those hands being active members of the Board of Directors. The rest of the guests being non-members of the police service, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, the Ministry of the Attorney General, former Board members of the OACAS among others.

There was also no mention during the AGM of any votes to be held by the membership pertaining to the various resolutions or other matters executed throughout the year by the Board which are supposed to be approved by the regular membership at the AGM leaving yet again no oversight options to the members who may have attended the meeting.

Knowing there are virtually no other external, independent oversight mechanisms in existence over Children's Aid Societies in Ontario, including the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, save and except for a select few legislated areas which can be reviewed by the Child and Family Services Review Board, which in itself has very little corrective authority over the Societies, members of the community who are directly affected by the Societies are the only viable body of independent oversight.

Unfortunately, the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa has refused memberships to people in the community who advocate for improved quality of service and accountability in child-welfare simply because of the Board's opinion that such advocacy, in their eyes means a person has acted in ways which do not uphold the objects of the Society as stated in their written rejection letters to people who have applied for memberships with the Society. This in contrast to an article written by lawyer Jane Burke-Robertson now of Carters a huge law firm which leads they way in Non-Profit law in Canada wrote in Chapter 2 of a report titled, "[i]Industry Canada Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations[/i]" the following

Directors may not abuse their powers by exercising them for an improper purpose, – i.e., in order to give themselves an advantage or to confer an advantage to someone else, or in order to unduly discriminate against a person – without their act being justifiable by the best interests of the corporation. For instance, they may not use their power by admitting only members sympathetic to them and refusing to admit or expelling members because they are not. Not only could such improper actions be set aside by a Court, but they may also result in the personal liability of the directors towards the corporation and the injured persons

Request for Response

I am writing to you Mr. Watson to ask if;

1. You support the motion

2. You would vote in favour of the motion if it were to be voted upon

3. You could provide your reasons for each answer


Note: This letter has also been posted under Jim Watson's name at http://www.canadianpoliticians.ca


Sincerely
John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
http://www.afterfostercare.ca

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