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CAS vows to appeal ruling of ‘bad faith’

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April 15, 2014

The London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society (CAS) will appeal court decisions in which it was slammed for acting “in bad faith” during a marathon custody battle and was billed $1.4 million for court costs.

The agency also stands by its decision to seek child protection from the father of three children — a decision that was dismissed by a judge after an unprecedented 154-day divorce and custody battle trial that was spread over three years — executive director Jane Fitzgerald said Monday.

“We don’t make these decisions lightly and we take into consideration the opinions of other professionals and in this case we did so,” said Fitzgerald, referring to consultations with police, women’s groups and school officials.

“We stand by our decision to seek a child protection application in this matter.”

Last week, Superior Court Justice John Harper slapped the CAS with a $1.4-million court bill and had harsh words for the agency, saying it failed to properly investigate a mother’s version of events in a divorce and custody battle, even when three children tried to alert authorities of the woman’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation.

Fitzgerald said the society was compelled to respond to the accusations.

“Quite frankly, we are concerned the public would think we are making serious decisions about a child and family without doing our diligence,” she said.

She said length of the custody trial was “unprecedented in our experience” and CAS evidence only took 15 of the 154 days.

The original decision dismissing the CAS protection order was handed down in September. At that point, the agency filed a notice of appeal, but was waiting to see the cost of the court bill — in case it was small.

“One of our considerations is that we are not adding in additional costs,” Fitzgerald said.

But the notice was filed in the “wrong court,” she said, so lawyers are preparing a new notice of appeal.

Monday afternoon, the CAS issued a news release saying it was “deeply concerned” with Harper’s decision.

“The most recent judgment regarding court costs is equally stunning and unprecedented,” the statement said.

— — —

THE CASE

  • 154-day divorce and custody battle trial was spread over three years, “unprecedented” in family law cases, CAS says.
  • The CAS child protection application was dismissed.
  • Custody of children was awarded to father.
  • Judge found CAS “acted in bad faith,” did not properly investigate mother’s claims. (CAS disputes this and says it investigated thoroughly and stands by its decisions.)
  • CAS ordered to pay $1.4 million in court costs.

 

Source:  http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/14/cas-vows-to-defend-ruling-of-bad-faith?

Related Source:  London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society slapped with record court costs of $1.4 million
http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/10/london-middlesex-childrens-aid-society-hit-with-record-court-costs-of-14-million


London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society slapped with record court costs of $1.4 million

April 10, 2014

1297448918518_ORIGINAL

The London area’s child-welfare agency has been hit with record court costs of $1.4 million, for failing to protect three boys caught in a marathon trial the judge says was marked by a manipulative mother and a father falsely cast as an abusive monster. In a just-released written decision, the judge also ordered the mother — whom he said “manipulated the court by misrepresenting the facts in order to gain an advantage” — to pay $604,478.36, or 30% of the more than $2 million court costs. The 154-day trial, over three years, was known in court halls as “the trial that never ends.” It helped build a huge backlog in London family court cases last fall, forcing officials to prioritize child-protection cases over divorce trials. In a scathing indictment of the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society, Superior Court Justice John Harper wrote the CAS “did not live up to (its) statutory duty to investigate thoroughly and objectively” in the case, and instead accepted the mother’s warped version as the truth. The $1.4 million is believed to be the largest financial penalty ever dished out to a child-protection agency in Ontario. The cash-strapped CAS made headlines last fall when it couldn’t balance its books. Spokesperson Michelle Bacon said the agency hadn’t reviewed the decision yet. “Once we have, we will be considering our response,” she said. The judge ruled in the case last fall, dismissing the CAS child-protection application and granting a divorce and awarding custody of the kids to the father. But not until this week were the costs dished out. “This started as a snowball of an allegation of unspecified emotional abuse that was flagged and assessed as high risk and it came crashing down on this family like an unstoppable avalanche,” Harper wrote. The CAS applied for a court order in September 2010 to protect the three boys, aged 15, 12 and 5, months after the parents separated. But the judge found the CAS became “a lead advocate” for the mother, the driving force behind the trial. Her “multiple problems” included substance abuse and “manipulations and false claims.” “(The CAS) had the statutory duty to investigate these claims through a thorough, objective and professional manner and they did not do so,” the judge said. The family’s identity is protected by court order. The erratic mother went from claiming her husband emotionally abused her, to claiming he was a sexual abuser and murderer who used his eldest child “as a gun in his hands to try to kill the mother of these three children.” Harper wrote. Recordings, text messages and e-mails showed the woman to be erratic, verbally abusive to her sons, often drunk and having at least two extra-marital affairs. In the middle were the three boys, who boomeranged between the parents. They repeatedly tried to alert the CAS to their mother’s violence, alcoholism and manipulation, only to see the agency side with her. The case spilled into the criminal courts, with the mother alleging her oldest son had tried to kill her. But a charge of attempted murder against the son never got past a preliminary hearing after the mother testified. Instead, the Crown accepted a plea to assault by the son for “excessive self-defence” from his mother. The judge dismissed the mother’s ever-shifting evidence. The agency, Harper said, tried to squelch any evidence that went against its theory the mother was a victim. A supervisor, responsible for providing lawyers in the case with CAS information, removed 475 pages of notes, records, e-mails and summaries from the file. At trial, it was revealed the mandatory document-sharing was running a year behind. Notes in the file referred to the mother as the “Society’s client.” Meetings were held to discuss how to protect her and case workers from the father. The mother also made a “most wanted poster” put up in her workplace and in her youngest son’s school file that had photos of her husband and oldest son with the words, “if you see these men, call the police they have a history of violence.” Neither father nor son was convicted of any crime until the son’s self-defence plea. Harper found the sons were in more need of protection from their mother than father. [email protected] Trial by numbers 154: Days it lasted $2,014,927.86: Total court costs $1.4M: Amount CAS ordered to pay $604,478: Amount mother ordered to pay WHAT ELSE THE JUDGE WROTE: About the mother: Serious credibility problems “drove the case to the extreme it became.” About the father: Fortunate had help “to dig out from under the avalanche thrust upon him.” About the children: “What did survive were the scars to the children . . .” About the CAS: “Acted in bad faith.” Other fallout: “This was exacerbated by the actions of the Society, some police officers, some women’s groups, a school board and her employers . . . many of whom accepted without any level of scrutiny the (woman’s) self-reports.” Source:  http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/10/london-middlesex-childrens-aid-society-hit-with-record-court-costs-of-14-million


Ontario Ombudsman oversight to be expanded to MUSH sector Marin welcomes historic move to provide scrutiny of municipalities, school boards, hospitals and more

Ontario Ombudsman LogoDate: 2014-03-06

(TORONTO – March 6, 2014) Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today welcomed the provincial government’s announcement that it will extend his office’s mandate into the “MUSH sector” – the vast, provincially-funded broader public sector comprising municipalities, universities, school boards and hospitals, as well as long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police.
The changes will allow citizens to complain about government-funded organizations that have historically been immune to the Ombudsman’s independent scrutiny.

The bill would empower the Ombudsman to investigate public complaints about municipalities, universities and school boards. It also creates a new Patient Ombudsman for complaints about hospitals and long-term care homes, and gives the existing Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth the power to investigate children’s aid societies.

“At long last, Ontario is poised to rectify the accident of history that left millions of citizens with nowhere to complain about the public bodies that touched their lives most closely,” Mr. Marin said. “If this bill passes, it will finally open the MUSH sector to the same kind of independent investigative scrutiny given to every other aspect of the provincial government.”

Because the Ombudsman reports not to government but to the Legislative Assembly as a whole, the change is an assurance of greater transparency for all MPPs and the public, Mr. Marin stressed. “The Ombudsman and other officers of the Legislature serve as checks and balances on government, ensuring that it – in all its complexity – is functioning efficiently and with the confidence of its citizens,” he said. “Ensuring the MUSH sector is subject to the same checks and balances is simply good for democracy, period.”

Ontario’s first Ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, called for the MUSH sector to be subject to his office’s scrutiny in a report published in March 1979, and his successors have reiterated this position. Since Mr. Marin’s appointment in 2005, his office has received than 20,000 complaints about MUSH sector bodies, even though the public is aware that they can’t be investigated.

These have included concerns about corruption in municipal government, mistreatment of patients in hospitals and long-term care homes, school board policies on bullying, deaths of children in CAS care, and unfairness to university students. Wherever possible, Ombudsman staff refer complainants to other appropriate authorities.

The new legislation comes in the wake of years of public demonstrations, rallies and calls to expand Ombudsman oversight to all or part of the MUSH sector. Since 2005, there have been more than 130 petitions and 15 private member’s bills tabled in the legislature to this effect, supported by members of all parties.

Ontario is the last province in Canada to open its MUSH sector to Ombudsman oversight. All other provinces have moved to extend the jurisdiction of their ombudsmen to hospitals, long-term care and child protection.

“If these measures are implemented, Ontario will go from being dead last in Canada to one of the leaders in MUSH sector scrutiny,” said Mr. Marin, whose office was consulted in the final stages of drafting the bill. “I look forward to seeing this bill come before the Legislature. It is a strong step toward a more democratic, accountable and open Ontario.”

The Ontario Ombudsman’s office handles about 20,000 public complaints per year, has 80 staff and a budget of just over $11 million. It resolves individual complaints quickly wherever possible and also investigates broad systemic issues affecting large numbers of people. The Ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding, but have been overwhelmingly accepted by government. Ombudsman investigations since 2005 have sparked widespread reforms, including better screening of newborn babies, improved security for lottery players, more transparent property tax assessment, more compensation for crime victims and fairer drug funding policies.
For backgrounder and a statement from the Ombudsman, go to www.ombudsman.on.ca The Ombudsman will speak to journalists in a conference call at 1:45 p.m. – audio will be posted thereafter at www.ombudsman.on.ca. On Twitter: @Ont_Ombudsman

For further information, please contact:

Ashley Bursey, Assistant Manager, Communications,
416-586-3521,
[email protected]

Elena Yunusov, Communications Officer,
416-586-3525,
[email protected]

Laura Nadeau, Communications Officer,
416-586-3402,
[email protected]


By-elections have been called in both Thornhill and Niagara.

For constituents living in those two ridings, Election Day is February 13, 2014.
Please take a moment to contact your local candidates to see where the stand on oversight & transparency and Ombudsman oversight of the MUSH sector.
If at all possible, please attend candidate debates early for an opportunity to ask where they stand and support candidates that are supporting us.

Thornhill Candidates

NDP
Cindy Hackelberg
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CindyHackelberg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CindyHackelberg

The Green Party
Teresa Pun
Email: [email protected]

Conservative
Gila Martow
Website: http://www.gilamartow.ca
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GilaJoy

Liberitarian
Gene Balfour
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gene.balfour
647-309-7817

Freedom Party of Ontario
Erin Ashley Goodwin
240 Commissioners Road West London Ontario N6J 1Y1
Website: http://www.eringoodwin.ca
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 416-399-0421

Niagara Candidates

NDP
Wayne Gates
Website: http://www.waynegates.ca
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/electwaynegates
Phone: 905-401-2992

Green
Clarke Bitter
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarke.bitter

Conservative
Bart Maves
Website: http://www.bartmaves.ca
Email: [email protected]
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BartMaves
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bartmaves
Phone: 905-371-1676

Liberitarian
Stefanos  Karatopis
905-325-2422


MCYS 2013 Annual Report on Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

Statement

Statement from Minister of Children and Youth Services 2013 Annual Report on Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy

December 16, 2013

Today, Teresa Piruzza, Minister of Children and Youth Services, released the following statement on Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy 2013 Annual Report:

“When Breaking the Cycle: Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy was launched in 2008, it was based on the belief that every child should be given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

I am pleased to report that our efforts and investments in young people, families and the economy are continuing to make a difference in people’s lives across Ontario. In the first three years of the Strategy, approximately 47,000 children and their families were lifted out of poverty. In 2011 alone, approximately 61,000 children and their families were prevented from falling into poverty. Based on the National Household Survey, Ontario now has the second-lowest low-income rate among all provinces in Canada. This was accomplished during the worst global recession in 70 years and without the additional support of the federal government.

The annual report also outlines the results of recent consultations. Almost 2,000 people across the province participated online and in-person this past summer and fall to provide thoughtful input that will help shape a new, five-year Poverty Reduction Strategy, to be released in early 2014.

Our government is proud of our accomplishments, but we also know the first five years of the Strategy is only the beginning. We know that by investing in people, we all benefit. By working together as partners, we can, and we will, break the cycle of poverty.”

LEARN MORE

CONTACTS

David Mullock Minister’s Office 416-212-3394

Courtney Battistone Communications Branch 416-325-5156

For Public Inquiries Call toll-free 1-866-821-7770

Ministry of Children and Youth Services http://www.ontario.ca/children

 


Bill to Modernize Regulation of Legal Profession Passes Final Vote

News Release

Government Passes its 11th Bill in 2013

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario is helping to ensure legal services are more effective and accountable with the Modernizing Regulation of the Legal Profession Act, which today passed Third Reading.

The new legislation — the 11th government bill to pass in 2013 — will:

  • Allow the Law Society of Upper Canada, which regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario, to strengthen its hearing and appeals process to make it more transparent, fair and cost-effective.
  • Increase the number of paralegals who sit on the Law Society’s governing body, called Convocation, from two to five, to provide for more equitable representation and recognize the importance of the maturing paralegal profession.
  • Allow the Law Society to suspend a lawyer or paralegal’s licence for failure to pay legal costs related to a discipline hearing.

 

Improving the regulation of the legal profession is part of the government’s plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada to regulate paralegals, which improves access to justice by giving consumers more choice and protection when obtaining legal services.
  • There are now more than 5,500 registered paralegals in Ontario.
  • The Law Society of Upper Canada regulates the largest bar in Canada, with more than 44,000 members.

Quotes

John Gerretsen

Passage of this new law will benefit legal professionals and the public they serve by allowing the Law Society of Upper Canada to develop stronger processes to ensure the delivery of more effective and efficient legal services in Ontario.”

John Gerretsen

Attorney General

               

Learn More

                     

         

Media Contacts

  • Michael Ferguson

    Minister’s Office

    [email protected]

    416-326-7071

  • Brendan Crawley

    Communications Branch

    [email protected]

    416-326-2210


Extending Ombudsman Oversight Makes Sense

22 July 2013

Sarah CampbellKENORA – Politics – This past week, our province’s Ombudsman released his annual report. Established in 1975, the Ombudsman is an independent officer of the legislature whose job is to investigate complaints against government services.
Dealing with more than 18,000 complaints a year, our current Ombudsman, Andre Marin, is one of the most respected civil servants in this province and it is for that reason that when he speaks out about an issue, politicians on all sides generally take note.

Extended Powers to Ombudsman
His annual reports are not only insightful, but offer a very important look into how the government is accomplishing, or falling short of, their goals,in addition to pointing out problems with government services and programs before they become crises.
While widely respected by all sides, one failing of the Ombudsman’s office is that there are certain programs and services that he does not currently have the ability to review. Popularly known as the “MUSH” sector, the Ombudsman’s office does not currently have the power to review decisions of  municipalities (although his office has recently been granted power to look into closed-door meetings), universities, school boards, hospital and long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and police. While most of these organizations have their own boards, some elected, some appointed, it does not mean they are immune to mistakes in judgement, and for that reason, Mr. Marin has been pushing for his oversight to be extended to cover these organizations.
As Mr. Marin noted in his report, the failure to provide him with the power to review these cases has forced him to turn away 2,541 complaints in the last year alone – more than 10 per cent of the individuals who have approached his office looking for help. While that alone is a significant number, it’s important to note that that’s just the individuals who were turned away, which could be far fewer than those actually experiencing problems.
Locally, I know that there is strong support for such an initiative. Since being elected, I have received more emails, letters, petitions and phone calls regarding Ombudsman oversight for Children’s Aid Societies than any other issue. At the same time, I have helped many across our region who have been frustrated by decisions made by municipalities, school and hospital boards. While these organizations have their own elected officials, their decisions often receive less scrutiny than decisions made at the provincial and federal level. Many of the problems people experience with these organizations are highly localized, and often often affect a limited number of people, albeit with a significant impact.
At the same time, Ombudsman oversight of these organizations has the potential to shed the light on provincial funding shortfalls, or legislation that is imposed on these boards that does not fit northern realities.
It is for these reasons that I strongly support Mr. Marin’s push, and was pleased to support Private Members’ Bills and other initiatives that sought this much needed coverage.
Sarah Campbell MPP

 Article Source:  http://www.netnewsledger.com/2013/07/22/extending-ombudsman-oversight-makes-sense/


Minister’s Statement on Unlicensed Child Care Review‏

Minister’s Statement on Unlicensed Child Care Review‏

Ontario

 

 

 

Statement

Minister’s Statement on Unlicensed Child Care Review

July 19, 2013

Today, Liz Sandals, Minister of Education, issued the following statement on the review of unlicensed child care complaints:
“As I committed to last week, my ministry has conducted a thorough review of every complaint received related to unlicensed child care providers over the past year to determine compliance with current policies.

The ministry took immediate action to determine whether there were any complaints that had not been addressed. Out of a total of 280 complaints received by the ministry over the past year, it was determined that nine had not been responded to with a site visit.

Moving forward, we are committed to responding to all complaints.

Ministry staff took immediate action on all unaddressed complaints, investigating them thoroughly over the past week and confirming that all of the identified providers are in compliance.

While this work was an important first step, I know there is more to do. That is why the ministry and our government are fully committed to working with the Ombudsman and his team on their investigation, and we will take any additional steps to ensure processes and procedures are properly followed.

As a next step, the ministry will extend the timeline of its review to Jan. 1, 2012. We recognize this is the timeline in which the Ombudsman has committed to review as part of his investigation, and we believe it is important that we determine whether there are any additional complaints that have been unaddressed and deal with them immediately.

The well-being of our children is of utmost importance and I want to assure the people of Ontario that our government will do everything in our power to keep our children safe.”

CONTACTS

Gary Wheeler
Communications Branch
416-325-2454
[email protected]

Lauren Ramey
Minister’s Office
416-325-2503
[email protected]

Ministry of Education
http://www.ontario.ca/education


Incompetent Lawyer or Not, how do you see this letter

This is a copy of a letter that was received from a friend’s lawyer. After reading this how do you take this letter, I guess one could view it 2 different ways. 

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Annual Canada Day Pamphlet blitzes.

canada flagCanada Day is one week away and it’s time for our annual Canada Day Pamphlet blitzes.
Aside from our social media & OntarioCfA web form campaign, pamphlet blitzes yield the greatest results at getting the public directly engaged and have resulted in thousands of people contacting their MPP’s.
It’s simple, only requires one individual, any festival so no complicated planning is required or worrying if others will show. It’s also a great way to network with likeminded locals. Also, you’ll quickly find at least one of these institutions are of great concern to everyone you’ll meet!
If you have time (no pressure here) and would like to help us fight for other families this Canada Day, let me know and we’ll help get you going.
Ombudsman Petition (If possible, use multiple clipboards)
http://ontariocfa.com/documents/ombudsman_petition.pdf