Monday, May 09, 2011

Minister Avoids Question About CAS Complaint Board being Incapacitated

Children’s aid societies – May 9, 2011

Mr. Rosario Marchese: To the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Is the minister aware that, almost a year ago, the Superior Court of Justice made a decision stating that the Child and Family Services Review Board does not have the power to hear children’s aid societies’ complaints that are before the courts?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I’m pleased to have a chance to spend a moment talking about the important oversight that we do have when it comes to children’s aid societies.
I want to highlight that there is Family Court oversight; there is the Child and Family Services Review Board oversight; the Ombudsman, who does have oversight of the Child and Family Services Review Board; the Auditor General; and the Office of the Chief Coroner.

Yes, my colleague opposite does raise an issue that the CFSRB has an appeal presently before the courts where they continue to defend the rubric and the area of authority that they importantly have as a specialized tribunal that has expertise to deal with the complicated and sensitive matters, and that in our view is the appropriate forum to deal with these issues involving children and families.

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Supplementary?

Mr. Rosario Marchese: The minister would know that since the Superior Court of Justice’s decision was made last year, over 50 children’s aid societies’ hearings have been put on ice. Many more will be on hold in the coming months.

Let me understand this: The government will not allow the Ombudsman to oversee children’s aid societies, the courts are not allowing the CFSRB to hear any cases before a judge, yet the government is adamant there are no problems with the system.

How is the government planning to help the growing number of families who are no one to turn to when they have a problem with the children’s aid society?

Hon. Laurel C. Broten: I think it’s important for families right across the province who might be watching to understand that we have a very rigorous variety of oversights that allow you, as an individual, to come forward with a complaint if you do have one with respect to a children’s aid society. The OACAS and other organizations have been very clear about their support for rigorous oversight of CASs. It’s a very regulated procedure, as it should be. These are highly important and emotional and technical matters that involve our children, and so we very much appreciate the variety of oversights that we’ve put in place.

At the same time, the CFSRB is a specialized tribunal. We have expanded their powers, increased their mandate to give them the opportunity to review these matters in a holistic way. There is an appeal presently and that should proceed and is proceeding through the courts where arguments are being made with respect to their oversight capacity —

The Speaker (Hon. Steve Peters): Thank you. New question.

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