Lance Copegog, Deputy Youth Chief of the Beausoleil First Nation Youth Council is "shocked and appalled" about the repeal of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth Act.
“The Ontario Child Advocate plays an important role in amplifying the voices of Indigenous youth, educating children on their rights, and ensuring that children in care have a champion. Through the good work of Irwin Elman and his team, the Office of the Ontario Child Advocate has ensured that First Nations youth have equitable access to services and resources in Ontario.
“By eliminating the Child Advocate position, Ontario becomes the largest province in Canada not to have one. The Progressive Conservatives are responsible for a regression in Ontario’s standing among the provinces. I am troubled by the Ford government’s utter lack of compassion and understanding. The Ontario government is putting the lives of Indigenous children on the line.”
Meanwhile. the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and Children’s Aid Societies also have serious concerns.
Ontario will join Prince Edward Island and the North West Territories as the only Canadian jurisdictions not to have an independent child advocate.
“The Ontario Child Advocate’s office played a vital role as an independent body that had the necessary expertise to listen and respond to the unique needs of children and youth,” said Mary Ballantyne, CEO of OACAS. “We are looking forward to working with the office of the Ombudsman to highlight how to best serve the needs of the province’s most vulnerable children and youth.”
OACAS is especially concerned about the impact of the closure of the Advocate’s office on both Indigenous and African Canadian children and youth.
"These communities are over-represented in the child welfare, criminal justice, and mental health systems, and the Advocate’s office has been important in supporting their expressions of concern and supporting change," says a news release.