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OHRC offers recommendations for Child and Family Services Act review

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January 27, 2015

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December 19, 2014

Hon. Tracy MacCharles
Minister of Children and Youth Services
14th Floor, 56 Wellesley St W
Toronto ON M5S 2S3

Dear Minister,

Re CFSA Review

Please find attached the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submission in response to the 2014 review of the Child and Family Services Act.

We make several recommendations to help promote and protect the rights of children, youth and their families under Ontario’s Human Rights Code; especially Aboriginal Peoples, racialized families and children and parents with disabilities. The recommendations include:

  • Amending terminology in the CFSA to be more inclusive of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples
  • Amending the CFSA to recognize, in addition to cultural, religious and regional differences, that respect for racial, ethnic, linguistic and gender identities are also in the best interests of the child
  • Monitoring the application of the CFSA, including collecting data, and reporting on the extent that child and family services are separating Aboriginal and racialized children from their family environment, or otherwise not meeting their needs
  • Amending or interpreting the CFSA to reflect that children should be placed in services and families affiliated with, or culturally sensitive to, their religion or culture, whenever practicable
  • Amending or interpreting the CFSA to provide for services and facilities, including residential services, that respect the child or youth’s gender identity and gender expression
  • Amending or interpreting the provisions of the CFSA related to the child’s right to consent and to be heard, to respect and/or reflect the child’s identity and needs related to creed, race, ethnicity, disability or gender identity, and other protected grounds under Ontario’s Human Rights Code
  • Amending or interpreting the CFSA so that children are not separated from their family because of the disability of a child or their parent; and that parents with disabilities have access to assistance to support their child-rearing responsibilities
  • Reviewing the CFSA and its application to make sure inadequate housing or poverty is not a stand-alone factor for considering whether the child’s well-being is at risk.

My staff and I are available to discuss the submission further. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the CFSA.

Yours truly,

Barbara Hall, B.A, LL.B, Ph.D (hon.)
Chief Commissioner

cc. Irwin Elman
Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

Mary Ballantyne, Executive Director
Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies

Betty Kennedy, Executive Director
Association of Native Child and Family Services Agencies of Ontario

Gary Lipinski, President
Métis Nation of Ontario

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy
Chiefs of Ontario

Margaret Parsons, Executive Director
African Canadian Legal Clinic

Barry Coke, President
Jamaican Canadian Association

Helen Kennedy, Executive Director
Egale Canada

Ivana Petricone, Executive Director
ARCH Disability Law Centre

Hon. David Zimmer
Minister of Aboriginal Affairs

Hon. Ted McMeekin
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Hon. Deb Matthews
Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur
Attorney General of Ontario