Well folks here it is July and the May Report of the Minister's Advisory Committee is only now out ! This is a committee that is suppose to be annual and here it is MORE than 2 years later that we have a report - A report put together by an illegal committtee that has continued to funtion without the full membership specified under law.
The claim that they are not able to find people to fill the positions is the doing of the government itself. We are well aware of a number of qualified persons (verified by the Executive Council itself) who have asked to be on this committee several times but are repeatedly overlooked . They refuse to pay this committee the normal $100 per diem, they make the committee members wait for months to have their legitimate costs refunded, and to add insult to injury, behind their backs, they cancel their lunches ordered, while they are in session.
Besides not have the full membership mandated by law for this committee, the people on this committee have been sliding on and off continually. This has been a concern of ours because when the presentations that were critical of Comunity Services were made, at the beginning of this process, they were not recorded in any manner, by audio or video. Because this committee dragged on beyond their 1 year mandate, the people who would have written this report were NOT privy to these presentation.
We were surprised when the bureacrats of Community Services made a presentation to the multi-party Community Services Committee on, of all days, April the 1, 2008, April Fools Day. Read article on this HERE . Not one of the committee members was there ! In fact, we learned that the chair of the Advisory Committee was only informed of this presentation through one of the MLA who just happened to be on that multi-party committee.
We find this report wastes a lot of space quoting the act as they did on the April Fools Day presentation - The problem is not so much the Act. ( though we do recommend some changes) The biggest problem is that the province ignores the Act- ignores the law ! And we are sick and tired of the bureacrats quoting the Act as if they actually follow it - They do NOT !
When the Senate Committee on the Rights of the Children came to to Nova Scotia to hear the provincial government reps' rhetoric - they did not believe them - why should you! Read the news paper article concerning the senate report HERE . Read the Senate commite report Children: The Silenced Citizens HERE. And read the presentation given to this committee by advocates from Nova Scotia who traveled to Ottawa at the Senate's expense HERE and HERE on the Senate website, itself.
Below is the report- We will be adding comments in square brackets [ ] . This may take while to post and edit with our highlights and comments so please be patient.
REPORT Ministers Advisory Committee on Children and Family Services Act and Adoption Information Act -May 2008
This report reflects the work of the Minister’s Advisory Committee on the Children and Family Services Act and the Adoption Information Act. The Committee for this report was established in November 2005 in accordance with the mandate of the Advisory Committee as stated in Section 88(1) of the Children and Family Services Act. This section states:
The Minister shall establish an advisory committee whose function is to review
annually the provisions of this Act and the services relating thereto and to report annually to the Minister concerning the operation of the Act and whether the principles and purpose of the Act are being achieved. -CFSA Section 88 (1)
The Advisory Committee experienced significant problems in meeting its mandate. Lack of provision in the legislation to specify terms of office coupled with the current system of making appointments annually presents obstacles to the ongoing functioning of the Committee.
Additionally there have been significant delays in filling vacant positions as they became available due to expiration of terms, resignations and controversy concerning appointments made. These issues are addressed in Part 3 of this report, Section 88 Advisory Committee.
[This controversy stemmed from the government continually appointing people in specific categories that did NOT meet the requirements of the categories and stubornly overlooking people who did meet the requirements of the categories - opting to appoint government people who did NOT meet the requirements specified in law]
The Committee did its best to obtain meaningful input from individuals and community groups
throughout the Province, discover experiences and insights concerning child welfare and
adoption information issues and services in Nova Scotia, and review current child welfare and
adoption literature trends (See Bibliography). Coupled with the fact that has been more than
seven years since the previous Advisory Committee Report (1999) was released, [The correct date for the last time a Committee met to review the CFS Act was 1996] the Committee found that it required much longer than a year to produce a report that would adequately meet its mandate.
As part of the consultation process, the Advisory Committee held 27 all day meetings over a 23 month period. During the spring and summer of 2006 a campaign was developed and implemented to solicit feedback from the community. Letters were sent to approximately 250 organizations/individuals throughout the Province requesting written submissions, with invitations to present in person to the Committee.
[ No special invites were sent out to people whom the government knew would criticise the Department of Community Services - No special invites were sent to the 2 women, Linda Youngson and Marily Dey who took the Minister of Community Services to court to force him to follow the law that mandated him to set up this Advisory Committee ]
One-page flyers were included with the letters asking organizations to place them on their notice boards. A newspaper advertisement was placed in the major newspapers throughout the Province and
[This was a VERY tiny print general advertisement for all government committees buried in the back of the papers and only published for 1 or 2 days, depending on the paper] ,
in September 2006, notices were included with Income Assistance cheques. The notices advised individuals, who may not have been involved with organizations, of the Committee’s mandate, and solicited their input through written and/or personal presentations about their experiences with the Act and its’ implementation as well as any suggestions for improvement. Contact information via email, postal address and web page information was included with all campaign literature. [ This is NOT correct !] The Children and Family Services Act and the Adoption Information Act was made available on the Internet.
[ When people who did not have internet access, requested print copies of the Act, this was denied.]
(See Appendix’ B Campaign Literature)
Over an eight-month time frame, the Advisory Committee received 51 written and verbal submissions, 14 of which were presented in person from groups and individuals from throughout the Province.
[ There should have been more individual presentation. We are aware of people who were denied this opportunity because of Lynn Cheek : Lynn Cheek is a government person who was appointed to this committee by this government to prevent people critical of the government from making personal presentations. Ms Cheek invented new requirements to present to this committee including having to read the ACT and having to connect their presentations to specific sections of the ACT - yet denying people copies of the ACT when requested. Also, when the submission closing date was fast approaching, she suddenly required all submissions and requests to present be made through the mail "with a stamp". Linda Youngson, one of the 2 ladies who took the Minister to court to get this committee appointed, was told by Ms Cheek that because her written submission was so thorough that she did not have to make a personal presentation. Of course Ms Youngson did not accept this . But when she and another advocate went to present, there was only 2 members there to hear the presentation (The chair had already informed her that the quorum for this committee was 8 ) When these 2 ladies requested to present again, there were a few more members present but still NOT a quorum - Yet they were told, at this time, that the supportive presentation, which were heard 1st, all received a quorum. When the press got hold of Lynn Cheek's behavior and questioned her on this, she suddenly resigned - Only to be reappointed later, when the heat died down]
Most submissions came from people who had direct experience with child protection services - as professionals providing services to families, parents whose children had been in need of protective services, and youth who are/were in care. Many submissions from individuals were received in the form of hand-written letters, email messages, typed personal letters and/or oral presentations to the Committee describing personal situations and experiences of their involvement of child protection services. About 20 percent (11) submissions were from people who had experience with the Adoption Information Act. The Committee appreciates the time and dedication from these individuals and organizations represented. To establish a basis for this report, the Committee also reviewed recommendations and follow-up actions from the three previous committee reports:
Report Ministers Advisory Committee on Children and Family Services Act, 1993;
Report Ministers Advisory Committee on Children and Family Services Act, 1996;
Report Ministers Advisory Committee on Children and Family Services Act, 1999.
A summary of recommendations from the 1999 report is included in Appendix ‘C’ Summary of
Follow Up to Previous Reports from the Advisory Committee Report, 1999 and Current Status.
Eight major themes emerge from reports and submissions received. They are as follows:
• The Nova Scotia Children and Family Services Act (CFSA) is generally considered to
be a good Act.
• There is a critical lack of resources to implement the CFSA in accordance with its
[ This is the same old cry for more money - This is NOT the answer ! - When CS gets more money, they feel they have to justify this by victimizing more families and children. They need to spend the money they have already, HELPING families with the services mandated in the CFS Act , NOT using it to gather lyinging information against families by hiring organizations and individuals who have lucritive contracts with Children Services, who will sell their souls to give CS whatever they want in order to keep these contracts]
• 16-18 year olds receive inadequate protection, insufficient services and have little
input into decision-making.
[ The Act -Section 37 (2) - states that children 12 and over have the right to their own lawyers - The Act - Section 41 (4) - also states that it is the responsibility of the Court to make sure the child knows this right. We know CS and the provincially funded Legal Aid system is willing to lie and stymie the parents and children to prevent them from this right. We know no judge who had followed through on their responsibility to be sure the child knows their right. The family lawyer system in Nova Scotia is so corrupt, the lawyers do not defend the parents as they should - They actually direct the parents to the slaughter - So if the lawyers do not defend the parents as they should, why would they defend the children? - After many years of advocacy work there is NOT one NS family lawyer we would recommend for families - These lawyers take direction from CS NOT the parents. See more information about this concern HERE ]
• Extended family has little if any involvement in custody/protection plans.
[ The act itself states that family members are to be contacted as possible foster parents before being shipped out to stangers. Concerning this responsibility to seek family member to do so, the act says "the Court shall" Section 42 (2) and "the Agency shall" Section 28(1) . "Shall" is a legal term which means the Agency and the Court are legally required to do so . See more information on this HERE ]
• There were divergent opinions regarding Section 22 of the CFSA.
[ This is the concern that gives the government the right to apprehend a child on the basis that "maybe, perhaps, sometime in the future a parent might possibly" etc . It is NOT based on any wrong doing that the parent has done - just a supposition that they MIGHT ! See more information HERE]
• There is a lack of trust in the child protection system by recipients of services and
the members of the public. [ This fact and realization was also reported in the Nunn Report -NS government WAKE UP! ]
• There is a need for the establishment of a Children’s Advocacy Office.
[ The current Ombudsman office is NOT doing their job protecting the children in the system and informing them of their rights. See more information HERE and HERE ]
• There is a trend toward open adoption and disclosure of adoption information.
This report has been divided into three parts.
Part One - Service issues and Child Protection Legislation.
Part Two - The Adoption Information Act
Part Three - The Mandate of the Advisory Committee as stated in Section 88(1) of the
Children and Family Services Act.
ADVISORY COMMITTEE-CHILDREN & FAMILY SERVICES ACT
-Member List 2005-2006 [ Look back here for updates questioning accuracy of appointment dates and comments on Mr Van Zoost's (personal friend of the Minister who was appointed to the parent category) appointment that is not listed her ]
1. Minority Representative - Section 88(2)(e)
Ms. Mira Musanovic
Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement
Halifax, Nova Scotia
2. Parent Representative - Section 88(2)(a)
Mr. Frederick Francis Benson
Halifax, Nova Scotia
3. Community Member- Section 88(2)(f) [ This NOT a category specified in the ACT ! The term used here is deliberately used to mislead the people of Nova Scotia ! Just above, this report took the time to quote Section 88 (1) but NOT Section 88 (2) which specifies the different categories of appointments and makes clear which are mandatory and which are not. Please hyperlink HERE to read Section 88 (2). This misnamed catergory is NOT mandatory - This is a category where the Minister gets to stack the committee with 3 more supporters " as the Minister may determine". Give us a break - you are not fooling us with this deceiving title. When we went to witness people giving their presentations, these apointees proudly identified themselves as "Special appointment by the Minister" ]
Ms. Barbara Sowinski
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
4. Community Member- Section 88(2)(f) [ Here is another "Special appointment by the Minister" ]
Ms. Cheryl Gillett Harawitz (chair)
Halifax, Nova Scotia
5. Community Member- Section 88(2)(f) [ Here is another "Special appointment by the Minister" ]
Ms. Trena Slaunwhite Gallant
Parent Resource Centre
Halifax, Nova Scotia
6. Legal Aid Lawyer - Section 88(2)(d) [ Remember Legal Aid, whether Dalhousie or NS Legal Aid is run by the government- So here we have more government people]
Ms. Kathy Briand
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
7. Minority Representative - Section 88(2)(e)
Mr. Kenneth Deveau
Department des sciences de l’éducation
8.Ministerial Representative – Section 88(2)(c)
Ms. Lynn Cheek (resigned, December, 2006) [ Read explaination above concerning Ms Cheek blocking people from making presentations - Being found out by the media - resigning and then sneaking back on the committee when the heat died down and the multi-party Human Resources committee was asleep on the job - again ! Read HERE our serious concerns with the Human Resources Committee]
Department of Community Services
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Resigned October 2006
9. Agency Representative - Section 88(2)(b)
Mr. Richard B. Gruchy
Department of Community Services
Halifax, Nova Scotia
10. Parent Representative - Section 88(2)(a)
Ms. Valerie Hill
Sydney, Nova Scotia