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Coteau blasts de-regulation of children in care during pandemic

Photo: Michael Coteau

QUEEN’S PARK – Michael Coteau, MPP for Don Valley East and Ontario Liberal critic for Children, Community and Social Services, blasted the Ford government for its loosening of protective procedures around criminal record checks, increases in the size of foster homes and postponement of in-person inspections for children in care.

“It is incredibly troubling that the government’s approach to COVID-19 in our foster-care system was to weaken and postpone protection measures rather than adopt any specific public-health guidelines for our most vulnerable children,” said Coteau, a former Minister of Children and Youth Services. “The Ford government’s reduction of in-person inspections of long-term care homes has rightly been condemned, and now we see those same de-regulation instincts at play in our foster homes – and implemented by stealth during the pandemic.”

“Especially now that the province is rescinding temporary emergency measures and re-opening up everything from retail stores to child care, it is vital that the government restore in-person inspections, thoroughly document any postponement decisions that were made, swiftly follow up on any issues flagged in that process and ensure every available step is taken to protect children in care,” Coteau said.

“It is also imperative that the government immediately and responsibly work to ensure children are not being placed into overcrowded foster homes, and that all regular police-record checks and other screening measures in the child welfare sector are resumed immediately,” Coteau

“I worry these reductions in protective measures are less about dealing with the pandemic and more about this government’s ideology, especially when it was this government that eliminated the Office of the Child Advocate as one of its first acts in office. This pandemic demanded stricter enforcement and new protection for our most vulnerable children, and the government chose to go in exactly the opposite direction of what was required to keep our children safe,” Coteau concluded.

Ontario Regulation 208/20 under The Children, Youth and Family Services Act
2017: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20208?search=foster

SOURCE: Office of MPP Michael Coteau, Don Valley East

Photo from The Toronto Star

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