November 22, 2018
Sandy Shaw, MPP for Hamilton-West - Ancaster - Dundas called for increased accountability and transparency in proposed changes to the structure of the Environmental Commissioner's Office, the Office of the Child Advocate, and French Language Services Commissioner.
On the Environmental Commissioner's Office:
"Ignoring Climate Change is not an option" said Ms. Shaw. Going on to say:
"The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario is an officer of the Legislature whose job is to provide independent assessment of the state of Ontario’s environment. The commissioner also administers the Environmental Bill of Rights, and this guarantees the public’s right—not the government’s, but the public’s right—to be notified and consulted on government decisions. The commissioner’s most recent report flagged the potential loss of funding for the water protection act framework, an important framework for preserving our environment. The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario had a mandate to monitor the government’s compliance with provincial environmental laws, as I said, including the Environmental Bill of Rights, and to report on the government’s progress on an annual basis. That’s where I think the problem [with consolidating this position into the Ombudsman's] Office lies."
On the French Language Services Commissioner:
Ms. Shaw described the changes as "a blow to the francophone community" going on to say:
"Last week’s fall economic statement cancelled the province’s $80-million investment in a francophone university without notice... This long-awaited university was slated to open in Toronto in 2020 after being lobbied for for over 20 years. The university’s president and board of governors have already been named, and students and their families were making plans for their education.
It’s not only constitutionally guaranteed to have access to language rights; it’s also the right thing and the caring thing to do, to ensure that our fellow francophone Ontarians can always have access to government services, including important health care services, in their own language, one of our two official languages in this country. The French Language Services Commissioner was the protector of that right.
So I join so many people in this province in asking this government to hear the betrayal, the frustration and the outrage from the people of Ontario and restore both the commissioner and the university that aspiring students and their families were counting on. In asking this government to listen to its francophone community, this is what accountability is all about. As I said, I’ve received so many phone calls and emails about this issue, and other people in my riding are reacting in the same way."
On the Office of the Child Advocate:
Ms. Shaw called the changes as a "dereliction of duty" going on to say:
"Ontario’s most vulnerable children and youth are too often under serviced by our child welfare system, mental health services, youth justice and special needs sectors. Lack of services or waiting lists can result in health challenges, lower educational outcomes, reduced opportunities, injury and, tragically, sometimes even death.
Children and youth—in particular, vulnerable children and youth—often have no voice, and few adults to speak on their behalf. The Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth was that voice. He was charged with the responsibility of providing an independent voice for children and youth. Independent: That is the key here. This is not someone who reports to the government; this is someone who advocates independently for the rights of children, the well-being of children and the welfare of children.
I cannot fathom in what world this government thinks that saving money—although, in the full “trust, transparency and accountability” mode, there’s no clear dollar figure as to how much this cut will cost; we don’t have those figures.
Putting vulnerable children, endangering their future and potentially their lives to save we don’t know how much money—how is this a decision that this government could make? How is this a decision that this government could make without consulting the experts in this field, without the consulting the child and youth advocate, without consulting people that work in child protection services, without consulting children, families?"