In late November, 2018, the President of the CFUW Ontario Council, Sandy Thomson, asked that we forward to you information on the proposed closing of the Provincial Child Advocate Office (part of Bill 57), and the rally in Toronto to oppose the change. You should have received that email.
Since I couldn’t attend the rally I called two of the organizers, Dr. Judy Finlay, Associate Professor of Child Care at Ryerson, and Cheyanne Ratnam, a member of the Ontario Children’s Advocacy Coalition to find out how it went. They said there were about 400 attendees, and that the rally went very well and was well covered by news media. But, even though the youthful speakers were dramatic and effective, they felt the attitudes of the members of the Committee were unchanged.
I had intended to write a letter on your behalf supporting the Ontario CFUW brief but was told the Clerk for the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs was no longer taking written submissions, and suggested phoning the six MPPs, who were members of the committee, would be more effective. I did that on Monday, December 3rd (left messages) and also wrote the following email to the MPP of St. Catharines, Jennifer Stevens, who is not on the committee, but will presumably get to vote on Bill 57.
“Dear Jennifer, my name is Gail Neff, and I am President of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), St. Catharines. I called your office to express my strong objection to the part of Bill 57 that proposes to close the independent Provincial Child and Youth Advocate Office, and combine it with the Ombudsman’s Office. Your assistant suggested that I send you this email. I see that you are not on the Finance and Economic Affairs Committee, but I am hoping that you can convey the objections of the 250 members of the St. Catharines chapter, as well as the 5000 members of the Ontario
CFUW to those making the decisions.
I find it ludicrous that a system that has been developed to serve the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of our society, Indigenous and poor youth, and troubled children and has served as a model for other provinces and even other countries is being disbanded, to cut costs! In my experience, new systems often have unintended consequences and inefficiencies such that, financially, little is saved in the overall scheme of things, and service to the public is decreased.
Our distressed young people need advisors who have been specially trained to help them. Employees in the Ombudsman’s Office are accustomed to dealing with complaints of adult consumers, not the issues of disadvantaged youth. Please vote to keep the Child Advocate Office open and able to meet the needs of our children and youth.
Gail Neff, President, CFUW St. Catharines 2018-19
NOTE – As of December 24, the Ontario Child Advocate Office Website stated that they will continue to provide advocacy services until further notice.