Monday, July 05, 2010

Eastern Region of Ministry Asked to Investigate more Illegal Activity by CAS

The Eastern Regional office of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in Ontario has been informed of and asked to investigate illegal activity being conducted by the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa and it's staff.

Tripp Photography's Christine Tripp is also being contacted to inform her of her involvement in this illegal activity and to determine whether the Society informed her of the fact that it is illegal to make public foster children's pictures.

See the letter below: Responses will be posted publicly when available.

Update 1:
July 15, 2010: I spoke with Judith Dunne (Eastern Region Program Supervisor) and she has now been made aware of this e-mail as she was on holiday when I sent it)


Update 2:
July 22, 2010: The Society's Communications Officer, France Clost wrote back to me stating that they signed waivers therefore making it ok to break the law, and attempting to say that the children are not subjects of a CFSA proceeding. My e-mail response to her is included below:




From: John Dunn (johndunn@afterfostercare.ca)

Sent: July 5, 2010 2:30:30 PM

To: MinEasternRegionJudithDunne MinEasternRegionJudithDunne (judith.dunne@ontario.ca)

Cc: MinCYSDeputyMinister MinCYSDeputyMinister (judith.wright@ontario.ca); Andre Marin (amarin@ombudsman.on.ca); Horwath - QP, Andrea (ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca); Peter KormosMPP (pkormos-qp@ndp.on.ca)



Judith Dunne
Program Supervisor
Eastern Regional Office - Ministry of Children and Youth Services

Monday, July 05, 2010

Judith Dunne

As program supervisor whose duty it is to ensure that the Children's Aid Societies under your supervision are conducting themselves in accordance with the Child and Family Services Act (the Act) I am asking you to investigate the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa and Barbara MacKinnon in connection with their latest initiative titled the "Heart Gallery" which has the Society and it's staff knowingly engaging in the illegal activity of making public information which has the effect of identifying children who are the subject of a proceeding under the Act.

The "Heart Gallery" -- as clearly expressed by Barbara MacKinnon in the attached CBC report -- makes photos of these children available to the public by putting them on display in public areas, which is a direct violation of section 45 (8) of the Act which states the following:

Prohibition: identifying child
(8) No person shall publish or make public information that has the effect of identifying a child who is a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding, or the child’s parent or foster parent or a member of the child’s family. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 45 (8).

As you are aware, according to section 85 (3) of the Act, a person who contravenes subsection 45 (8) (publication of identifying information) and a director, officer or employee of a corporation who authorizes, permits or concurs in such a contravention by the corporation, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than three years, or to both, and you are being asked to investigate this important matter.

Please respond as soon as possible informing me of what you intend to do in relation to this illegal activity by the Society.

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


The following letter has been sent to the Photographer responsible for taking the photos.


From: John Dunn (johndunn@afterfostercare.ca)

Sent: July 15, 2010 6:26:11 PM

To: christine@tripphotography.com

Cc: Barbara Mackinnon (barbara.mackinnon@casott.on.ca); info@adoption.ca


Christine Tripp
Tripp Photography

It has been brought to my attention that you Christine Tripp, and/or your company Tripp Photography & Associates, in connection with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa and the Adoption Council of Canada via "Heart Gallery of Canada Inc." ( http://canadaheartgallery.ca/ ) are responsible for taking pictures of foster children in Ontario and making them public contrary to section 45 (8) of the Child and Family Services Act (the Act).

Each picture of each foster child in the Gallery constitutes a separate count of the offence. According to section 85 (3) of the Act a person who contravenes subsection 45 (8) (publication of identifying information) and a director, officer or employee of a corporation who authorizes, permits or concurs in such a contravention by the corporation, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than three years, or to both.

Since this is more than likely your first offence, I would like to offer you the opportunity to resolve this matter without prosecution by asking you to answer the following questions, to take the following actions, and to confirm with me the outcome of your actions.

Questions:
1. Did the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa or the Adoption Council of Canada or any of their staff or volunteers at any time attempt to inform you of the fact that it is illegal to make public photos of children in foster care?

2. Did you sign any contracts or agreements with the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa, the Adoption Council of Canada, the Heart Gallery of Canada Inc., or any of their staff or volunteers?

3. Can I review any signed contracts, waivers or other related documents to determine whether you are exempt from liability in relation to these offences.


To Do:
1. You are being asked to contact Barbara MacKinnon, the Executive Director of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa and Sarah Pedersen, the Acting Executive Director of the Adoption Council of Canada to ask them to cease and desist from making public the photos of children in foster care forthwith and to return all copies of the photos to you for their destruction.

Resolution:
Once you have answered the questions above and taken the actions requested under item number one of the "To Do" section above and confirmed them with me, I will at that time consider not pursuing charges under the Act.


Relevant Legislation:
For your convenience, I have provided the following relevant sections of the Child and Family Services Act for your review and consideration in relation to this important matter.

Section 45(8)
Prohibition: identifying child
(8) No person shall publish or make public information that has the effect of identifying a child who is a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding, or the child’s parent or foster parent or a member of the child’s family. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 45 (8).

Section 85 (3)
Offences
Idem
A person who contravenes subsection 45 (8) or 76 (11) (publication of identifying information) or an order prohibiting publication made under clause 45 (7) (c) or subsection 45 (9), and a director, officer or employee of a corporation who authorizes, permits or concurs in such a contravention by the corporation, is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than three years, or to both. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.11, s. 85 (2, 3).


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


The following letter was sent to the Society's France Clost, Communications Officer of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa regarding this matter.

From: John Dunn (johndunn@afterfostercare.ca)
Sent: July 22, 2010 1:05:59 PM
To: France Clost (france.clost@casott.on.ca)
Hi France

In your e-mail, you state on behalf of the Society the following.

"Please note that the children who are part of the Heart Gallery are not a witness at or a participant in a hearing or the subject of a proceeding. They are legally free for adoption according to the courts."

If the courts made them available for adoption, this means they are the subjects of a proceeding under the CFSA which is how they became involved with the CAS in the first place.

The Society should be advocating for section 45 (8) of the Act to be modified to enable children as defined in the Act, their parents, and their foster parents to be allowed to sign waivers either via the regulations or in the Act itself. As the relevant legislation is worded today, there is no allowance for any forms to be signed.

Currently, with the Heart Gallery and the Society allowing media to publish pictures of foster parents during the Snow Angels events in direct violation of section 45 (8) of the Act, the Society is setting a precedent in that if a parent of a child who is the subject of a proceeding under the Act wanted to go to the media and talk about what the Society has done, the parent can now just sign a waiver as per the Society's repeated examples, exempting them from prosecution under section 45 (8) and 85 (3) of the Act.

Just letting you know that the law applies to everyone equally. And the Society, as a government approved agency should not be in the practice of flagrantly contravening provincial statutes and setting such an example to the public. As you are aware, the Society has already repeatedly contravened section 307 (5) of the Corporations Act and is now defending itself in a prosecution for this violation in an attempt to ensure the public are protected from agencies such as the Society from doing so at their pleasure.

Again, the Society is sending out a message to the public that it is ok to break the law as long as you sign some form of unofficial waiver before you do it.

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

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