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Accountability hard to come by Government response to list of wrongs falls short

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Thu, 04/19/2012 - 10:37

On July 21, 2010, family advocate Rev. Lorne Meisner sent a lengthy letter to then-Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh and later to senior managers at the General Child and Family Services Authority and the Health Science Centre. He wanted accountability for the wrongs suffered by the family.

Here's some of what he wanted and the response:

A full review of the case by both CFS and HSC.

HERE'S WHAT HE GOT:

A meeting with HSC brass and, allegedly, a verbal apology. No written apology has been offered. To date, CFS has not offered an apology. General Authority CEO Jay Rodgers says a months-long review is still underway. A result will allegedly come next week.

Accountability: Why were the children seized? Why wasn't this explained to the parents? Why did it take so long to have them returned?

WHAT HE GOT:

No satisfactory answers, although Jay Rodgers admits the ball was dropped on his end. Rodgers points out HSC has already admitted its culpability.

A Family Services spokesperson said in an email: "Every parent is entitled to an initial explanation of the situation from either a social worker or law enforcement officials. After the children have been safely removed, the child protection worker will advise the parents or guardian of the grounds for the apprehension."

That did not happen in this case.

In theory, when it becomes clear no abuse happened, the children should be returned rapidly.

A reason new Canadians with poor English language skills were not provided with a translator.

WHAT HE GOT:

Rodgers said the safety of the children is paramount. That said, CFS is working closely with new Canadians to explain the role of CFS, explain good parenting practices and make sure they understand the rights of families.

The government spokesperson said: "If it is determined that a child (or children) is in need of protection, and if the family has language difficulty, every effort should be made by the agency to have a translator present. Typically, language bank services are utilized for these situations."

The spokesman added child safety trumps translation.

An explanatory pamphlet given to families of apprehended children.

WHAT HE GOT:

The pamphlet exists and should have been given to the family. As well, CFS workers are supposed to properly identify themselves and leave, at minimum, their business cards.

A full examination into the behaviour of the CFS workers involved in the apprehension and subsequent investigation. Meisner accuses the workers of bullying the family and being insensitive to the reactions of families from war-affected areas.

WHAT HE GOT:

As far as he was concerned, nothing beyond a November 23, 2011 meeting with CFS staff, including public inquiry co-ordinator Jan Christianson-Wood. The family was not invited to the meeting.

Meisner and the family were never told CFS was conducting a full review of the case.