Hamilton MPP's CAS bill 'dead in the water'

A Hamilton MPP says she's "devastated" that her bill allowing Ombudsman oversight of Children's Aid Societies has died now that Premier Dalton McGuinty has prorogued the legislature.

Monique Taylor's bill proposed Ombudsman have authority to investigate children's aid societies

Hamilton Mountain MPP Monique Taylor, left, shown at a recent rally with NDP leader Andrea Horwath, introduced a bill that would give Ontario's Ombudsman the ability to investigate decisions made by children's aid societies. With Premier Dalton McGuinty proroguing the legislature, that bill has now died. (moniquetaylormpp.ca)

A Hamilton MPP says she's "devastated" that her bill allowing Ontario's Ombudsman to investigate Children's Aid Societies has died now that Premier Dalton McGuinty has prorogued the legislature.

Monique Taylor, MPP for Hamilton Mountain and the NDP's critic for the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, introduced a private member's bill that recently passed second reading. The bill would give Ontario's Ombudsman, Andre Marin, independent oversight over the societies' decisions.

But with McGuinty announcing his resignation and proroguing the legislature, the bill is "dead in the water," Taylor told CBC Hamilton on Monday evening.

"I'm devastated for families," she said. "We were jumping for joy when we passed second. Unfortunately, at the time I thought it was too good to be true and I wondered why. Maybe this is why."

Children's Aid Societies already have "considerable oversight" on several levels, Dominic Verticchio, executive director of the Hamilton Children's Aid Society (CAS), told CBC Hamilton in an earlier interview.

They are accountable to courts when children are apprehended. Complaints may also be investigated internally or go to the province via the Child and Family Services Review Board.

But the Ombudsman has been asking for the ability to investigate complaints for the past 35 years. The bill has been introduced before, but Taylor's was the first to reach second reading.

"For him to prorogue, literally everything we've been doing is gone," Taylor said.

The proroguing also signals the death of a bill that would see mandatory sprinklers in retirement homes. The bill introduced by Paul Miller, MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek and NDP Seniors' Issues critic, had passed second reading.

"We're very disappointed," Miller said.

McGuinty announced at a surprise caucus meeting Monday evening that he was stepping down as Ontario's premier and leader of the Liberal Party.

He is also proroguing the legislature to allow the government to negotiate wage-freeze agreements with public-sector workers.


Samantha Craggs is journalist based in Windsor, Ont. She is executive producer of CBC Windsor and previously worked as a reporter and producer in Hamilton, specializing in politics and city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca