Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ottawa Children's Aid Society asked for Committee Agendas and Minutes

John Dunn, executive director of the Foster Care Council of Canada, an organization which advocates for transparent and accountable child welfare services in Canada asked the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa if they would provide him with copies of the agendas and minutes of the various committees and/or subcommittees of their Board of Directors.


Children's Aid Societies in Ontario are private, non-profit corporations which are publicly funded by tax-payers money, however, the Children's Aid Society of Ottwaa does not permit members of the public to read the agendas and minutes of the various committees and/or subcommittees of the Board of Directors.

The Society only provides, and only upon request, copies of the agendas and minutes of the monthly Board of Directors meetings, which do not provide the actual substance of the discussions held by the committees and/or subcommittees of the Board, only general minutes stating whether the Board voted to approve the minutes of the committees and/or subcommittees.

Members of the Board of Directors receive copies of the committee and/or subcommittee agendas and minutes, but the Society refuses to let the public see them, despite the fact that all of the issues discussed in those meetings are not deemed to be "in camera".

The following request letter was sent to the Society on October 12, 2012 seeking copies of the committee and/or subcommittee agendas and minutes.



From:    John Dunn (afterfostercare@hotmail.com)
Sent:    October-12-12 10:16:30 AM
To:     Barbara Mackinnon (barbara.mackinnon@casott.on.ca)
Cc:     Tracy EngleKingCASOtt (tengelking@casott.on.ca); MaryParisienOttawaCASExecOfficeCASOTT MaryParisienOttawaCASExecOfficeCASOTT (mary.parisien@casott.on.ca); CriticChildWelfareNDP (mtaylor-qp@ndp.on.ca); CriticChildWelfarePC (jane.mckenna@pc.ola.org); CASGPOOppCriticJenniferMooradian (jennifermooradian@gpo.ca)

Subject: Board Committee Meeting Minutes‏


Barbara MacKinnon
Executive Director
Children's Aid Society of Ottawa

and please distribute to:

Board of Directors Members,
Children's Aid Society of Ottawa

Deborah Shortt, President,
Hazel Lambert, Vice President,
Phil Jensen, Secretary Treasurer,
Tess Porter, Director at large
Ruth Koch-Shulte, Past President
Ann W. Croll,
Pauline Daling,
Steven Bellemare,
Shauna Graham,
Abdirizak Karod,
Al Mackey,
Michael Pelletier,
Tracy Wrong
Richard Tomlinson,
S.R. FPA Rep. (Name replaced with initials in accordance with section 45 (8) CFSA)

Barbara Mackinnon et al;

I would like to ask you for copies of the agendas and minutes of the various committees and/or subcommittees of the board of directors of the Children's Aid Society for the months of January - October 2012

They can be e-mailed in electronic form to me at johndunn@afterfostercare.ca or by mail to

Foster Care Council of Canada
Attn: John Dunn
12-1160 Meadowlands Drive East
Ottawa, ON
K2E 6J2


CC:
Tracy Engelking, Senior Legal Counsel, CAS
Mary Parisien, Executive Administrative Assistant
Monique Taylor, MPP - Opposition Critic, Children and Youth Services, Ontario NDP Party
Jane McKenna, MPP - Opposition Critic, Children and Youth Services, Ontario PC Party
Jennifer Mooradian - Shadow Cabinet, Children and Youth Services, Ontario Green Party

Sincerely,

John Dunn
Executive Director (Volunteer)
Foster Care Council of Canada

Website: http://www.afterfostercare.ca
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/afterfostercare
News Blog: http://www.fostercarenews.blogspot.com
Child Welfare Discussion Forum: http://www.fostercare.proboards.com

Barbara MacKinnon's interim response is shown below until the Board of Directors provides their formal response;



Hello Mr. Dunn,

I understand that Mary Parisien, my assistant, informed you that we will distribute your request to the Board of Directors for their consideration.

However, I would like to remind you of the rationale of our current practice which I think we discussed a while ago.

The current CASO practice is not to publicly distribute Board committee and working group minutes. The rationale for this practice is that the committee and working group minutes become redundant once they are received by the Board of Directors:

The model of governance applied at CASO is that all decisions are made within the committee of the whole which is the Board of Directors. The committees and working groups of the Board discuss and provide advice to the Board of Directors specific to their Terms of Reference.

The committees and working groups report on their activities and make recommendations to the Board of Directors which are discussed and the final decision is made through a motion and a vote at the Board of Directors. These decisions are recorded in the minutes of the Board of Directors which are available to the public.

The committee minutes are received by the Board and are noted both on the agenda and within the minutes of the Board. This confirms all the meetings occurring on behalf of the Board of Directors outside of the Board Meetings are known and acknowledged at the Board Meeting.

The committee and working group minutes or reports are dealt with at the Board meeting which immediately follows their meeting and are recorded in the Board minutes.

This practice is consistent with our model of governance, is efficient and ensures public access to the decisions of the Board of Directors.

I anticipate that the results of the deliberation of the Board of Directors regarding your requests will be available to you before the end of the year.

I hope this is helpful. Barbara MacKinnon - Executive Director The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa La Société de l'aide à l'enfance d'Ottawa (T) 613.747.7800 ext. 2600 (C) 613.697.1481

Barbara MacKinnon is saying that they do not provide members of the public with copies of the committee or working group agendas or minutes, that once the Board members have read them the public do not need to see them because they are deemed by her to be redundant, that this practice is consistent with the Society's "Model of Governance" but does not state what model of governance the Society implements, that doing so is somehow efficient, insinuating it is not efficient to let the public see such agendas and minutes, and that this ensures public access to the decisions of the Board of Directors, yet this does not in any way provide members of the public with the details of what the yes or no decisions are based on or about.

The question still remains, why does the Society feel the need to hide the content of the Minutes and agendas which the Board members are permitted to see yet the public are not permitted to see. Especially when the Society is funded by tax-payers to the tune approximately 20 Million a year.