Bill 42 protects children from CAS abuse

By Curtis Kingston

Ombudsman oversight is desperately needed for Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies. Over the years Ontario’s children and families have had to endure horrific encounters with an unregulated and unaccountable private organization with funding models that create perverse incentives to destroy families.

Contrary to popular belief, every Children’s Aid Society in the province of Ontario is a privately run organization that receives their funding from the government based on the number of children in their care and the number of files open on families. This flawed funding model was recently publicized in a Toronto Star article on 03/14/2013 that exposed a leaked memo where the Peel region CAS asked their staff to keep cases open for the sole purpose of retaining funding.

As of April 1st this funding model is changing but unfortunately it is changing for the worse. According to the Simcoe County CAS Executive Director, Susan Carmichael, the funding will only change by using a three-year average of case files instead of every year and they will also be introducing boosts in funding for cases involving minorities such as low-income families, lone-parent families and aboriginal children. This means that one of the changes in this new model gives the CAS financial incentive to target minorities, single parents and the poor.

CAS Destroys Ontario Families For Profit

These flawed funding models and the lack of oversight or accountability have resulted in these organizations regularly acting outside of the law and morals to unnecessarily keep files open on families and to apprehend children from their homes not based on child protection concerns, but rather their own financial gain. In a recent MCYS operational review of the PECCAS that was completed in January 2012, it was found that the Ontario average for CAS compliance with the Child and Family Services Act was only 66%. That means that on average Ontario CAS’s are acting outside of the law 34% of the time. Most CAS spokespeople state in the media that apprehension of children is always a last resort, but it has come to light that this is simply untrue. Canada Court Watch has obtained documents that prove that the Highland Shores Children’s Aid Society has on at least one occasion applied for a warrant to apprehend children but based on the lack of any verified child protection concerns, the warrant request was denied. Later that same day, against the direct order of the court, the HSCAS apprehended the children anyway with complete disregard for the law or the well-being of these children. The law does allow the CAS to apprehend children without a warrant under emergency circumstances if the CAS feels a child is in severe danger and there is no time to apply for a warrant. In this case there was more than ample time for such a request and it was denied. Therefore the CAS did not apprehend the children legally but rather may have committed criminal offences by apprehending children after the warrant request was turned down.

Then once children are taken into the “care” of a CAS, they are supposed to be taken to a place of safety where children should be in a better situation than they were in before. Unfortunately this is often not the case either. In recent years the Prince Edward County CAS has been under public scrutiny. There have been a total of six former PEC foster parents charged and three convicted of sex crimes against children. In the MCYS Operational Review of the PECCAS, completed in January 2012, it showed that the PECCAS had multiple failures that lead to the lives of innocent children being forever destroyed at the hands of their foster parents. It was found that as of January 2012, the PECCAS did not have one foster home or group home that was legally considered a place of safety for children. This was largely due to the lack of full criminal record checks of foster parents in their jurisdiction.

Lack Of Oversight Puts Innocent Children At Risk

The PECCAS was proven to have failed the children in their care, yet not one worker or staff member of the PECCAS was held accountable for the horrors that took place. These issues exist not only because CAS’s are private organizations or due to the severely flawed funding models, but rather these issues exist due to the severe lack of any oversight or accountability. That and the flawed funding models are why these organizations are often not acting in the best interest of children, but rather for their own financial gain.

There is a bill that has just passed its first reading in the Ontario Legislature (Bill 42) that would allow our Ombudsman the authority to investigate complaints about CAS’s in Ontario just as the Ombudsman does in other provinces. Ontario is the only province in Canada where the Ombudsman is not authorized to investigate child welfare and this bill, if passed, would give child welfare in Ontario the same accountability as every other province in our country. I urge every member of the public to contact their local MPP’s to show your support for Bill 42 and the oversight and accountability of CAS’s in Ontario, as these organizations need to have oversight and accountability to be able to keep them in line and working in the best interest of children. Sadly it is often not the case. Ontario desperately needs this change because at the end of the day, this is our children we are talking about here and our children are our future.

  • T. Mack

    Thank you for this article, very enlightening. I had trouble with the acronyms, lol, but appreciate this disturbing information. The very organization we pay to protect children is failing them. Oversight is mandatory!

  • Karyn Bower

    Bravo to you Mr. Kingston for putting in print what I have been trying to educate the public on for months. We desperately need accountablility here in Ontario before many more lives are destroyed. The CAS started out as a very respectable and needed service with the child’s best interest’s at heart, but when money becomes the motivating factor , then it becomes corrupt. God bless you for speaking out and telling the public what it needs to hear.

  • marilyn

    I agree with that Karen

  • Chris Carter

    Thanks to the CKR and Curtis Kingston for publicizing and further defining these province of ON child protection issues.

    We have freedom of information requests filed with the Ministry of Children and Youth Services pursuing records in regards to the Peel CA$’s “keep cases open to retain funding” internal memo which was leaked to the Toronto Star newspaper a few weeks ago:!/groups/CCW.Group/10151306075577271/

    Here is a link to the MCYS 2012 Operation Review re: the sexual abuse of children in the “care” of the (now defunct) Prince Edward County CA$ which Curtis refers to and which we obtained using the freedom of information request process a few months ago:

    I’ve appealed the redactions and the case is currently being adjudicated by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

    Need more still more reasons to support the permanent disbanding of the CA$s? (and please don’t confuse the pursuit of the shutting down of the CA$s as being a position against organized child protection…support of province of ON organized child protection is a no brainer and a given). Here is a listing of almost 50 lawsuits which were filed against the CA$s and other child protection entities here in ON during the 1999-summer of 2012:

    Here is the God awful genesis of the post 1999 Mike Harris Bill 6 changes to the CFSA which so severely and even more unjustifiably (based on their history) empowered the CA$s. It is a 77 page March 1998 report called “Protecting Vulnerable Children” by a self-anointed, self-appointed “expert panel on child protection.” This was one of the most prejudiced and wickedly biased processes ever imposed by a gov’t on people ever. In fact it was so bad, indefensible, etc…that the PC gov’t of that time didn’t even allow the opposition MPPs to look at it let alone examine it. Check out page 76 to read the brief biographies of the “expert panel” members. All but one of them (the school principal Mr. Richard Ferron) are openly aligned with the CA$s and profit financially from the CA$-court child protection litigationfraud.
    Again, using foi we are the first ones in the province of ON to obtain it and disseminate it (I learned about the document from reading “child protection system” papers written by the Queen’s University law professor Mr. Nick Bala):
    I’ve appealed the redactions and the case is currently being adjudicated by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

    But the ugliness of the CA$s has been around for decades and decades (I worked hard to obtain the 1979 MCSS’s report identified in this 1981 Globe and Mail news report but wasn’t successful. The report is housed at the Archives of Ontario in Toronto. I’ll eventually be mounting another effort to get this report but anyone reading this who lives in Toronto would be greatly appreciated if they could donate some hours to spend at the AO to search through boxes to obtain the document. I’ll assist re: communicating with the AO and organizing the search):
    System was misguided, officials admit Thousands of children needlessly uprooted
    Monday, November 23, 2021
    The Globe and Mail

    I’m looking forward to watching the next video of the public meetings which the Highland Shores CA$ has committed to doing (they’ve done one so far) Curtis.

    As well, there is a tentative date to have a CCW Information Session later this April 2013 month on Walpole Island. We’ll make an announcement once everything is finalized.

  • debbie ouimette

    boy that says it all they are nothing but high price baby sitters. breaking good familys apart they new to be stopped . cas you nothing but a pay check an thats it.

  • x

    I agree fully that they need to be over seen by another body in order for these children to be protected. Too many cases of children up root for no reason.

  • Billijo Maynard

    I am very happy that something is finally being done. I am one of the many low income Ontarians that has been victimized by Children’s Aid, My three children were unlawfully taken by the C.A.S. of London and Middlesex, all from birth on the unlikely assumption that because i am Epileptic and suffered seizures when i was young that i am unfit to raise my own children. C.A.S targets people on Ontario Works and O.D.S.P. because, it is my belief that we have a more difficult time fighting them. Someone like me has to rely on Legal Aid for a lawyer, and fight against lies made up by Children’s aid workers so they can have more money in their pockets at the expense of innocent children. I have not suffered a epileptic seizure for many years, and the thought of my two daughters and son being taken away simply because i suffered from a disability makes me sick. They are all young my oldest is 4 years old, my middle child is almost 2 and my youngest is is 8 months. Maybe now Children’s Aid will take Children who are being abused or neglected, and leave good parents alone.

  • Sandra Searle

    I am trying to fight CAS in York Region to get my granddaughter out of there, I approached CAS in December of 2011 and told them that I wanted custody of my granddaughter. They totally ignored me and turned things around to make me sound like an idiot. Told me that I didnt need to be named a party in the case when it went to court. Turns out they were seeking Crown Wardship of her and if it hadnt of been for me filing papers at court they would have had her totally in their control last December, we go back to court again in June in Newmarket where CAS are trying to make me look like I dont know how to rais a child because I am almost 64. I cant afford a lawyer, dont qualify for Legal Aid and have been told that the only way that I can get legal help is to remortgage my home that I just paid off. This child has been diagnosed with ADHD, Post Traumatic Stress, Social Anxiety and Attachment Deficit Disorder, all of which can be directly a result of her being in CAS’s “care” yet she is not allowed to voice her wishes to live with me. It is time that the Government quit funding this cruel and inhumane bunch of people and allow kinship placements of children…….Grandparents should have the right to raise their own family (blood) and not have these children placed with Foster Parents who dont love them like family can. My granddaughter is not even allowed to see her uncle because he has cancer. Shame on them.

    • MartinHelen GalsterKemmers

      I realize that you posted this quite awhile ago but our family is in the exact same mess as you are. My husband and I had legal custody of our grandson his parents had physical, due to his mother not being in the best mental health and my son working two jobs to support them he was apprehended by York Region CAS. The push is on to make him a permanent crown ward. He is diagnosed as ASD which is autism spectrum disorder. He is seven now we were not allowed to see him on his birthday, for Christmas. I am not in good physical health (car accident and now cancer) so apparently he should not see me because I am according to them because I have a strong personality I am considered a bully, my son cant see him or have custody of him because even though he is now in a different good relationship, working a full time job has his own apartment his partner works full time they now say he does not have enough time to spend with his child. The child’s mother at first was granted visits anytime she wanted, would show up stoned to the visits and yet this was never held against her, she has no place to live, no job, no money and has now alienated her entire family so much that they are now on my sons side and are doing what they can to help to get him custody. CAS has no intention of every giving custody back because they would lose the money from him being a crown ward, his child tax benefit every month and the disability pension he gets because of his autism. Our former CAS worker has been removed from our case and we have a new worker unfortunately the previous worker did so much damage to our case and of course the courts and their lawyers only agree with the worker, we are screwed for ever getting custody back, And as with you we do not have the money for lawyers, they only way would again be to remortgage our house, We would end up paying for the house for 20 years after we were dead. Someone needs to make CAS responsible for their actions and words as well as the damage they cause families. Apparently it seems that if you beat your child black and blue, starve them, you can get your child back, but if you are providing a loving, safe home and environment you are not eligible to get custody of the.

  • Aga Smies

    As a Child Protection Mediator, I can easily agree with much if not all that has been written. Most CAS cases should not go to court but be discussed with a mediator present before any further action is taken. It reallyis amazing how quite the phone is.