By Gerald V. Paul
Monique Taylor, Ontario NDP Critic for Children and Youth Services, has demanded the Liberal government end the secrecy surrounding serious incidents involving vulnerable children in care.
“The number of serious incidents involving children in care is truly staggering. The government has a job to make sure that kids in care are safe but now we see that the Liberals have been turning a blind eye and letting down some of the most vulnerable children in our province.”
“Today, the secrecy must end,” Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain, told a press conference at Queen’s Park on Monday.
Taylor stressed for the sake of every child in care, Ontario needs an open public review of residential services for children and youth so that MPPs from all parties can hear from all of the experts, including the children and youth who live in group homes.
An open public review is the only way to ensure that it addresses all of the problems in the child protection system and delivers real change, she said. “Children in care deserve nothing less.”
According to reports based on Freedom of information records, nearly 20,000 serious incidents occur each year involving the 3,300 children and youth living in group homes across Ontario. Incident reports and annual group home inspections are not made available to the public by the ministry.
In addition, the ministry does not track crucial trends, such as the type of incidents reported, the use of physical and chemical restraints, or the rate of serious injuries.
On June 26, the ministry announced a panel would be appointed at a future date to review residential care services. It is now known the announcement was made only after the ministry was confronted with media enquiries about the extent of serious incidents in group homes.