QUEEN’S PARK – MPP Jim McDonell is demanding the Ontario government eliminate barriers preventing older teens from accessing Children’s Aid Society services.
During Question Period on Tuesday (Nov. 24), McDonell highlighted that Bill 54 – the Right to Care Act – is yet to be examined by the Standing Committee on Social Policy.
“Can Ontarians count on this government to take the necessary steps to ensure that Bill 54 passes by next summer?” he asked. “Minister, it is the right thing to do.”
McDonell’s private member’s bill would allow Children’s Aid Societies to make a temporary care arrangement for 16- and 17-year-olds who require their services for the first time.
The Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry MPP submitted the bill for discussion as PC Critic for Children and Youth Services in Dec. 2014, reviving Bill 88, which received all-party support during the previous parliament.
“The current framework discriminates against this demographic, despite our obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said McDonell. “Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are, thus, too old to enter the child protection and care system, and too young to access most of the government services aimed at vulnerable adults. This places them at a higher risk of homelessness, poverty, poor school performance, or dropping out, and being a victim of violent crime. Today, they have nowhere to turn for help. They need our action.”
McDonell says removing this barrier to CAS service access was a key request by the Ontario Association of CAS during the 2015 Pre-Budget Consultations, and by many who provided feedback on the Child and Family Services Act Review earlier this year.
“When Bill 54 came for Second Reading in the House, the Minister of Children and Youth Services stated that a review of the relevant legislation was ongoing,” he added. “The review is complete and the report of recommendations is public. The solution to the recommendation of raising the age of protection enjoys all-party support and is before a committee. We need the government on board in order to secure the bill’s rapid progress through committee and Third Reading.”