Friday, December 11, 2009

Council Advocates for Increased Transparency in Toronto CAS

The Foster Care Council of Canada has written a letter to Rob Thompson, Director of Communications at the Children's Aid Society of Toronto to advocate for increased transparency and accountability of the Society and awaits his response.

The letter is shown below:



Rob Thompson,
Toronto Children's Aid Society
Toronto, Ontario

Rob Thompson,

As you are aware from my voice message to you, some of the staff at the Children's Aid Society of Toronto who answer the phones for the Society were not familiar with corporate memberships that the Society offers to citizens who live in Toronto as per its by-laws.

I understand from your reply voice message that you would take it upon yourself to instruct the Society staff on how to appropriately respond to citizen inquiries about Society memberships and I appreciate your efforts in doing so as Society memberships are a very important matter to members of the Toronto community.

The Society's Anti-Oppression Policy ( http://www.torontocas.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/castaoarpolicyrevisedfeb132009.doc ) says "Oppression occurs when a person is blocked from opportunities towards self development, excluded from full participation in society, denied rights that the dominant group takes for granted or is assigned a second class citizenship, not because of individual talent, merit or failure, but because of her/his membership in a particular group or category of people (Mullaly,2002)".

Currently, the Children's Aid Society of Toronto does not publicly inform citizens that they can join the Society for a nominal fee, it does not inform them of the all of the benefits, rights, and obligations afforded to members of the Society, nor does the Society offer for easy access, or download, copies of its By-laws, which are "rules" that the Society, its staff, directors, and regular members are supposed to comply with, and which are subject to the Corporations Act.

When citizens complain to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services about the concerns they have regarding Society matters which do not fall within the purview of either the Child and Family Services Review Board under the complaints provisions available within section 68 of the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA), or matters which are not within the purview of the Courts under the CFSA, or financial concerns which the Auditor General of Ontario states can not be received directly by citizens complaints, or matters under the Corporations Act which the Ministry of Government Services has stated does not enforce for Children's Aid Societies even though they are incorporated under it, the Ministry simply turns them away stating that the matter is not within their jurisdiction and that the Societies are autonomous bodies, governed by a "community elected" board of directors. If the Society does not advertise it's memberships, then who are these alleged "community members" who are overseeing the agency as members and how did they become privy to membership? Are they chosen by the Board? Who "selects" these members and do they ever raise concerns at board meetings?

When citizens try and bring concerns to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services which do not fall within the purview of the courts, the CFSRB, the Auditor General of Ontario, the Ministry of Government Services (Corporations Act), or, allegedly, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, they are left with the last and final means of overseeing the operations of the Society, the expenditure of tax-payers money, the Society's programs and services, policies and procedures, and the election of its board of directors each year at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) among other things, which is to join the Society as a regular member.

Some requests:

1. I would also like to ask if you could respond to me in writing with answers to the following questions for the purpose of clarifying your response;

2. What exactly will you be telling or writing to the staff members regarding answering citizen inquiries about society memberships?

3. Which staff will be giving such instruction to and why?;and

4. In the spirit of the Society's "Anti-Oppression Policy", and with the Society's commitment to being accountable to the public they serve, I would like to ask if you would commit to writing a letter to the Board of Directors of the Society, asking them to make a motion to approve of the Society placing on its' website and in hard-copy in the lobby / waiting area of the Society, the information which is sought by private members motion #41 at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which reads as follows; and to send a copy of that letter to me for the public to read.

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. ( http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/go.jsp?Page=/house-proceedings/motions-private-members/files_html/39-1_section_6b_Private_Member_Motions.htm&menuitem=dandp_proceedings&locale=en )


I am looking forward to your reply, as this letter and its reply will be the subject of a press release upon receipt.



Sincerely


John Dunn
Executive Director
The Foster Care Council of Canada
613-220-1039
http://www.afterfostercare.ca

Foster Care News Blog
http://www.fostercarenews.blogspot.com

Also read about the Ride for Accountability in 2010
http://www.racas.wetpaint.com

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful John! I would like to know what the CAS bylaws are. In the CAS information for North Bay there are no names of people to contact and no email addresses. It is like the want to be a "secret society". I joined their membership once. I never got anything from them in the mail since, therefore, I never signed up again. Not to mention, it stated that as a member we could not say anything derogatory about them--well, what can I say? Could not really be a member then because I have lots to say. I am looking forward to their reply as well.

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  2. Join again, and this time, once you have joined and been accepted, ask for a copy of the by-laws (in writing) and CC me so we can track the progress publicly.

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