Ombudsman Ontario

Ombudsman Ontario

April 24, 2007 15:49 ET

Child Advocate is no Substitute for Ombudsman

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 24, 2007) -


Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin today praised the province's proposed new Child Advocate legislation but cautioned that it will still leave a dangerous gap in the system that is supposed to protect vulnerable children.

Bill 165, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act, takes only "baby steps" toward an effective system of child protection, Mr. Marin says in his submission to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy, which is holding hearings on the bill this week. The Advocate may speak for children but, unlike an ombudsman, will have no investigative powers: "An advocate is as much an ombudsman as an apple is an orange."

Yet Ontario's Ombudsman is unable to investigate the hundreds of complaints to his office about children's aid societies each year (more than 600 in 2006-07), because they remain outside of his jurisdiction. Cases that should be investigated are effectively thrown away, Mr. Marin says: "Despite all the government rhetoric that 'children are our future,' we in Ontario are choosing to rid ourselves of hundreds of these serious allegations every year by taking a trip to the dumpster and looking the other way." Ontario is the only province in Canada where children's aid societies escape such scrutiny, he notes. "However you slice, chop or spin it, there is no contest as to which province finishes dead last in investigating children's complaints. Ontario does."

Mr. Marin's submission calls on the government to act, in addition to establishing the Provincial Advocate, to amend the Ombudsman Act to include jurisdiction over children's aid societies. Unlike the provincial coroner and other bodies, the Ombudsman can investigate complaints by parents and children "before tragedy strikes," he points out.

Mr. Marin has advocated for the Ombudsman's mandate to be modernized to allow for oversight of such bodies as children's aid societies since his appointment in April 2005 - following a quest begun by Ontario's first Ombudsman, Arthur Maloney, in 1975.

Aussi disponible en francais

Read the full submission under What's New at

Contact Information