This episode of Your Right to Speak is a press conference recording that took place on November 29, 2018 organized by the Ontario Children’s Advocacy Coalition. The press conference was in response to a recent decision by the Provincial Government. Below is a press release from the Ontario Children’s Advocacy Coalition regarding the Government’s Decision:

“On November 15, 2018, the Ontario Government announced its intention to discontinue the Ontario Child Advocate’s Office (OCA; formerly known as Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth). This Office ensures young people have a voice about things that affect their lives. This decision is especially devastating for young people living on the margins, Black youth, Indigenous youth, young people living in the care of public institutions like child welfare or youth justice and those with special challenges or disabilities.

The current Ontario government has said that they will transfer some of the functions of the Office of the Child Advocate to the Ombudsman of Ontario, a much larger office that deals with consumer complaints by adults in a wide range of public services, but that has no experience dealing with child welfare, child and youth mental health and youth justice sectors. Young people involved in those sectors are unfamiliar with the Ombudsman, and there are no opportunities for a collective voice. The Child Advocates Office would be subsumed under an institution that deals solely with adults. An independent Office must be maintained to ensure the appropriate support and care of Ontario’s most vulnerable children and youth.

Presently, the Provincial Child Advocate was chosen and appointed by an all-party Committee of the legislature and he reports directly to the legislature through the speaker. This is to ensure that his Office remains independent and is not unduly influenced by the government or at risk of reprisals for releasing reports to the public that are critical of the government’s performance, particularly as it relates to children in its care. Bill 57 introduced by the Progressive Conservative Government would cut three legislative officers which includes the Ontario Child Advocate. Disrupting the independence and authority of the Child Advocate who represents the most vulnerable children and youth in the province without thoughtful consideration of the facts or thorough public consultation demonstrates an unconscionable breach of power.”

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