QUEEN’S PARK – Today during Question Period, Ontario PC MPPs highlighted how the Liberal Government continues to dither on extending and funding child protection services to youth aged 16 and over.
“In Ontario, Children’s Aid Societies are forced to turn away youth aged 16 and over, unless they are already receiving assistance,” stated Ontario PC Deputy Leader and Critic for Children & Youth Services, Sylvia Jones. “We are turning young people away when they are asking for help.”
In Canada, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick all provide child protection services for youth aged 16 and over.
“Not only do other provinces believe it is right to provide care to youth over the age of 16, the Youth Leaving Care Working Group’s 2012 report called for the age of protection to be extended to the age of 18,” Jones continued. “Moreover, by ending support at 16, Ontario is actually in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
“When will the Minister of Children and Youth Services extend and fund child protection services to the age of 18?” Jones added.
PC MPP Jim McDonell (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) also highlighted that Bill 54, the Right to Care Act, is yet to be examined by the Standing Committee on Social Policy. Passage of Bill 54 would allow Children’s Aid Societies to assist 16 and 17 year olds who require their services for the first time.
“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,” McDonell stated in the Legislature. “The review is now complete and the report of recommendations is public. Youth who are denied CAS services today are at a higher risk of homelessness, poverty, poor school performance or dropping out, and being a victim of violent crime.”
McDonell concluded, “The solution to the recommendation of raising the age of protection enjoys all-party support and is before a Committee. Can Ontarians count on this Government to take the necessary steps to ensure that Bill 54 passes by next summer? Minister, it is the right thing to do.”
The New Democrats were on the Liberal Government over the rates of poverty and homelessness in Northern Ontario.
Ontario NDP Critic for Community and Social Services Sarah Campbell demanded Premier Wynne and the Liberal government take action to help Northern Ontario families facing increasing poverty.
“This week we learned that poverty and homelessness continue to grow in Northern Ontario. This Liberal government’s rhetoric and record on homelessness and poverty simply don’t match up,” Campbell said.
In Sudbury, the homeless population has more than doubled since 2009. Almost one percent of Sudbury’s population is homeless. Rates of homelessness and poverty in North Bay and Timmins are higher than the rest of the Canada.
“This government is failing vulnerable people, families, and children in Northern Ontario. Will the premier admit that her inaction is forcing marginalized people in Northern Ontario to pay the price?”
While indigenous people only represent about 8.2 per cent of the population in Sudbury, they represent about 43 per cent of the homeless population.
“More than half of people at risk of homelessness have mental or physical health problems. 182 homeless people in Sudbury are children under the age of 18. The premier must acknowledge that this is unacceptable. This government’s neglect of vulnerable people in Northern Ontario is atrocious,” Campbell said.
“Will the premier admit that she is failing families and children in Northern Ontario and tell us what her government is doing about it?