TORONTO – The dissolution of the Child Advocate and Environment Commissioner’s offices are cause for serious concern in ensuring the safety, security and well-being of First Nations children and communities, with yesterday’s release of the Ontario Government’s “2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review”.
The Provincial Child Advocate has been active in providing a voice for First Nations youth – and all youth – to ensure that government initiatives and reforms take young people’s well-being into account. The dismissal of the Child Advocate brings opportunities for further apprehension of First Nations children from their home communities, who are already over-represented in the child welfare system. Eliminating the voice that advocates for these children is certainly untimely and contrary to Minister MacLeod’s commitments that she would work collaboratively with First Nations to find ways to implement the recommendations from the recent Coroner’s Report on the death of 12 youth in care. I sincerely hope that the Ontario Government understands its responsibility and that we all need to work together to improve the outcomes and care for First Nation children in these systems.
The placement of the Environment Commissioner within the Auditor General’s office is also troubling. The loss of the true independence of the Environment Commissioner’s office could have dramatic impacts on Ontario’s environmental rights and protections which directly affect Aboriginal and Treaty rights as these protections cover our lands, water and air.
While our staff are working to fully analyze yesterday’s Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, I am immediately concerned that the voices of two of the province’s accountability checks – and source of advocacy for not only First Nations people and rights, but all Ontarians – may have been silenced or lost altogether.”
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald