Transcript: When a Child Advocate's Door Closes | May 13, 2019

A guest sits in The Agenda studio. He's in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a black suit and a lilac shirt.

Steve says FOR A DECADE PLUS,
IRWIN ELMAN WAS THIS PROVINCE'S
CHILD AND YOUTH ADVOCATE.

Steve appears on screen. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, checkered pink shirt, and purple tie.

A caption on screen reads "When a child advocate's door closes. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve continues HE IS NO LONGER IN THAT POST
BECAUSE ONE OF THE FORD
GOVERNMENT'S EARLY REALIGNMENTS
WAS TO CLOSE THE OFFICE... ONE
OF THREE PROVINCIAL WATCHDOGS TO
HAVE BEEN LET GO... AND SHIFT
SOME OF THE RESPONSIBILITIES TO
THE OMBUDSMAN'S OFFICE.
IT'S NOT A DECISION THAT HE OR
CHILD WELFARE ADVOCATES
APPLAUDED.
HIS FINAL REPORT ON YOUTH HOMES
IN THUNDER BAY MAY SUGGEST WHY.
LET'S FIND OUT WITH IRWIN ELMAN.
AND WE ARE VERY HAPPY TO WELCOME
YOU BACK HERE TO TVO.

Irwin says THANK YOU.

Steve says CAN YOU JUST... LET'S
GO BACK BEFORE WE TALK ABOUT
TODAY.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU LEARN YOUR
OFFICE WAS BEING CLOSED?

The caption changes to "Irwin Elman. Former Ontario Child and Youth Advocate."
Then, it changes again to "Services no longer required."

Irwin says WELL, I LEARNED IN THE FALL,
IN OCTOBER I THINK IT WAS THE
END OF OCTOBER, BUT I LEARNED
ABOUT IT THROUGH TELEVISION
REPORT FROM THE CBC.
ACTUALLY, ONE OF MY STAFF HEARD
IT IN THE MORNING, AND THE
REPORT WAS THAT THE GOVERNMENT
WAS GOING TO REPEAL OUR ACT AND
CLOSE OUR OFFICE THAT DAY.
PUT THAT LEGISLATION INTO
LEGISLATURE, AND THAT'S HOW I
FOUND OUT.
I OBVIOUSLY PHONED THE
MINISTER'S OFFICE IMMEDIATELY,
AND THEY SAID, WELL, WE'LL GET
BACK TO YOU, AND THEY GOT BACK
TO ME AROUND 11:00 IN THE
AFTERNOON, AND THE LEGISLATION
CLOSING OFFICE WAS PUT IN PLACE
ABOUT 1:00 THAT AFTERNOON.

Steve says DID YOU EVER GET TO
SPEAK TO THE MINISTER ABOUT IT?

Irwin says NOT... I HAD SPOKEN TO THE
MINISTER BEFORE, TALKED ABOUT
THE WORK WE WERE GOING TO DO
TOGETHER, AND THAT DAY, OCTOBER
24, THE DAY BEFORE, ACTUALLY, I
RECEIVED A LETTER FROM THE
MINISTER SPEAKING ABOUT...
RESPONDING TO A LETTER I HAD
SENT ABOUT THE CORONER'S REPORT
ON DEATHS OF CHILDREN IN
RESIDENTIAL CARE, AND THE
MINISTER HAD PUT A LITTLE NOTE
ON THE BOTTOM, LIKE MINISTER
SOMETIMES DO IF YOU HAVE A
RELATIONSHIP, SAYING LOOKING
FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU,
HAVE SUCH GREAT RESPECT FOR YOUR
OFFICE AND NEXT DAY BOOM.

Irwin says THIS IS MINISTER LISA
MACLEOD.

Irwin says THE MINISTER.

Steve says SO YOU HAD NO
EXPECTATION THIS WOULD BE COMING
DOWN THE PIPE?

The caption changes to "Irwin Elman, @irwinelman."

Irwin says NO, I DIDN'T SEE IT COMING.
I EXPECT THAT EFFICIENCIES WERE
THE WORD OF THE DAY AND ARE THE
WORD OF THE DAY AND EXPECTED
THAT WE WOULD HAVE TO DO MORE
WITH LESS.
THAT'S SOMETHING I EXPERIENCED
WHEN I WORKED IN THE COMMUNITY
WITH YOUNG PEOPLE, WAS READY TO
DO THAT, AND THOUGHT WE WOULD
PUT THE NEW ADVOCATE, BECAUSE MY
TERM WAS ENDING, ON SOLID GROUND
TO DO THAT.
BUT NOT TO HAVE THE RUG PULLED
OUT FROM UNDER MY STAFF'S FEET,
BUT ALSO THE CHILDREN OF THE
PROVINCE'S FEET.

Steve says WE TOLD LISA MACLEOD'S
OFFICE YOU'D BE COMING ON THE
PROGRAM TONIGHT AND ASKED IF SHE
HAD ANY COMMENT ABOUT IT, AND WE
GOT THIS BACK VIA E-MAIL...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Change of direction." The quote reads "When I was first elected to the Ontario legislature in 2003, I was in favour of an independent office to investigate and advocate on behalf of Ontario's children. However, after taking office and reviewing the past 10 years of subpar work product from the Ontario Child Advocate's office that did little to inform government policy, it became clear to me that advocacy for Ontario's children should be the responsibility of government decision-makers. We look forward to improving outcomes for Ontario's children and have the utmost confidence in Ontario's Ombudsman to investigate any wrongdoing involving kids in care."
Quoted from Lisa MacLeod, via email. May 10, 2019.

Steve says THE OMBUDSMAN, OF COURSE, NOW
BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORK
YOU USED TO DO. WHAT DO YOU
MAKE OF THAT RESPONSE?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, agendaconnect@tvo.org, Instagram."

Irwin says AT SOME LEVEL IT MAKES ME
WANT TO SAY "WHATEVER," RIGHT?
IT'S NOT ABOUT... I MEAN, IT'S
OBVIOUS I JUST MENTIONED THAT I
RECEIVED A LETTER FROM THE
MINISTER THE DAY BEFORE THAT
ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE, TALKING
ABOUT THE GREAT RESPECT SHE HAD
FOR OUR OFFICE, AND THE LITTLE
PERSONAL NOTE.
IT'S IN THE BULK OF THE LETTER
TOO, BUT... SO WHATEVER.
IT'S NOT ABOUT THAT.
IT'S ABOUT CHILDREN.
IT'S ABOUT WHAT THEY NEED.
IT'S ABOUT SAYING TO CHILDREN IN
THIS PROVINCE: WE WILL PROTECT
YOU.
IT'S ABOUT SAYING TO CHILDREN IN
THIS PROVINCE: YOU WILL HAVE
WHATEVER YOU NEED TO REACH YOUR
FULL POTENTIAL.
EVERY CHILD.
IT'S ABOUT SAYING TO FAMILIES,
WHATEVER KIND OF FAMILY WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT, HOWEVER THEY ARE
CONSTITUTED, SAYING TO FAMILIES:
THANK YOU, YOU WILL HAVE WHAT
YOU NEED TO DO RIGHT BY YOUR
CHILDREN.
THAT'S WHAT THIS DISCUSSION
SHOULD BE ABOUT.
IF SHE HAD ANY ISSUES WITH THE
WORK OF OUR OFFICE, SHE HIRED ME
10 YEARS AGO.
SHE WAS ON THE HIRING COMMITTEE.
SHE VOTED FOR ESTABLISHING MY
OFFICE.
SHE REAPPOINTED ME, VOTED TO
REAPPOINT ME FIVE YEARS AFTER
FOR MY SECOND TERM, AND SHE HAD
NOTHING BUT PRAISE WHEN I DID
MEET HER WHEN SHE WAS IN
GOVERNMENT.

Steve says SO WHEN SHE RELEASES A
STATEMENT SAYING YOU'VE BEEN
DOING SUBPAR WORK FOR TEN YEARS,
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT?

Irwin says I'D SAY WHERE WAS SHE?

Steve says DO YOU THINK THIS IS
HER TALKING OR DO YOU THINK THIS
IS MAYBE SOMETHING FROM THE PREMIER'S OFFICE?

Irwin says YOU KNOW, I... THIS WHOLE
SITUATION HAS BEEN HARD TO
UNDERSTAND FOR YOUNG PEOPLE,
CHILDREN, PEOPLE IN THE SYSTEM,
THE PUBLIC, I THINK.
SO I'VE STOPPED TRYING TO THINK
IT THROUGH AND FIGURE IT OUT.
I THINK THAT'S... THERE'S A LOT
OF THINGS ABOUT SOME OF THE
DECISIONS THIS GOVERNMENT IS
MAKING.
THERE'S A LOT OF... THERE'S A
SAYING: FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.
IT MEANS, YOU KNOW, YOU THINK
ABOUT THE FUNCTION.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
AND THEN YOU CREATE A WAY OF
DOING IT.
THERE'S A LOT OF FORM THIS
GOVERNMENT IS DOING, BUILDING
THINGS, BUT NOT A LOT OF TALK
ABOUT FUNCTION.
SO I DON'T KNOW.
I MEAN, IN SOME WAYS I THINK THE
HOPE IS, AND WE'LL GET TO THAT
MAYBE IN THIS INTERVIEW, BUT THE
HOPE IS WE GOT TO MOVE PAST AND
AROUND THIS KIND OF WORDS, AND
WORK TOGETHER SECTOR AFTER
SECTOR, SERVICE AFTER SERVICE,
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHILDREN TO
BUILD A BETTER PROVINCE.

Steve says WELL, LET'S JUST TAKE
A HARD LOOK AT THAT FOR A
SECOND, BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY FOR
THE DECADE AND MORE THAT YOU
WERE THERE, YOU THOUGHT THE BEST
WAY... AND THE GOVERNMENTS OF
THE DAY... THOUGHT THAT THE BEST
WAY TO ENSURE THAT KIDS WERE
WELL CARED FOR WAS TO HAVE YOU
IN A STANDALONE POSITION WITH
YOU AND YOUR STAFF WITH THE
ABILITY TO INVESTIGATE AND MAKE
RECOMMENDATIONS AND SO ON.
NOW THEY'RE SAYING ALL OF THAT
WORK... THIS IS THEIR
POSITION... CAN JUST AS WELL BE
DONE OUT OF THE OMBUDSMAN'S
OFFICE.
IS THAT, IN FACT, THE CASE?

Irwin says WELL, NO, OBVIOUSLY.
THEY GAVE A SLIVER OF POWERS AND
DUTIES TO THE OMBUDSMAN.
THEY GAVE HIM THE POWER TO
INVESTIGATE, WHICH WE NEVER HAD
FOR THE FIRST EIGHT YEARS OF OUR
MANDATE.
WE WERE TO ADVOCATE, WHICH IN
OUR ACT SAID TO PARTNER WITH
CHILDREN TO BRING THEIR ISSUES
FORWARD, TO ENSURE THEY HAVE A
VOICE.
AND REALLY THAT IS NOT SOMETHING
THE OMBUDSMAN DOES, WHICH IS PUT
CHILDREN AT THE CENTRE, ENSURE
THAT THEY ARE SEEN AND HEARD,
THE MOST VULNERABLE CHILDREN
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IN THE
PROVINCE, CHILDREN CONNECTED TO
CHILD WELFARE, CHILDREN
STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES, CHILDREN WHO HAVE
DISABILITIES, FIRST NATIONS
CHILDREN, CHILDREN WHO ARE
RACIALIZED.
PEOPLE... AND THERE ARE
PEOPLE... WHO JUST SOMETIMES ARE
NOT SEEN OR HEARD FROM BY
GOVERNMENT AND DON'T HAVE A
VOICE, DON'T HAVE A VOTE.

The caption changes to "Giving children a voice."

Steve says IS THAT WHY THEY
NEEDED THAT JOB?
BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN A
MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND CHILDREN
SERVICES.

Irwin says MM-HM.

Steve says IN ADDITION TO THE
POSITION YOU HAVE.
WHY DID WE NEED YOUR JOB IN THE
FIRST PLACE?

Irwin says WELL, YOU KNOW, OUR OFFICE
WAS CREATED OUT OF ANOTHER
OFFICE, WHICH WAS EMBEDDED
WITHIN A MINISTRY 40 YEARS AGO
BY A CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT.
I THINK IT WAS BILL DAVIS'S
GOVERNMENT CREATED THE CHILD
ADVOCATE'S OFFICE.
FIRST IN THE COUNTRY AT THE
TIME, BASED ON WORK THAT'S BEEN
DONE IN EUROPE BECAUSE MOST
COUNTRIES IN EUROPE HAVE A CHILD
OMBUDSMAN, A CHILD ADVOCATE.
AND THEN TEN YEARS FROM TODAY,
ELEVEN YEARS NOW, THE GOVERNMENT
DECIDED TO CREATE AN INDEPENDENT
OFFICE BECAUSE MOST OF THE
PROVINCES... WELL, NOW ALL OF
THE PROVINCES HAVE AN
INDEPENDENT CHILD ADVOCATE.

Steve says THIS IS THE MCGUINTY
GOVERNMENT I GUESS THAT DID IT?

Irwin says YES.
AND THAT WAS DONE BECAUSE WHEN
THE ADVOCATE WAS WITHIN
GOVERNMENT, IT WAS THE HARRIS
GOVERNMENT, ACTUALLY, WHO
LIMITED THE BUDGET FOR THE
ADVOCATE WITHIN GOVERNMENT TO
PRINT PAMPHLETS TO ALLOW
CHILDREN TO KNOW THAT THEY HAD
THE RIGHT TO CALL THE ADVOCATE.
AND SO THE ADVOCATE AT THE TIME
SPOKE UP ABOUT THAT PUBLICLY,
WHICH IS NOT SOMETHING AN
ADVOCATE WITHIN GOVERNMENT IS
PERMITTED TO DO, AND SAID: WE
SHOULD HAVE AN INDEPENDENT
OFFICE SIMILAR TO ALL THE OTHER
PROVINCES.
AND THAT'S WHY WE WERE CREATED,
SO THAT WE CAN STAND BESIDE
CHILDREN WHO THE GOVERNMENT IS
ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR.
SOMEBODY HAS TO DO THAT.

Steve says AND WHAT WERE YOU
DOING AT THE TIME THAT YOU
APPARENTLY WANTED TO LEAVE TO GO
DO THIS WORK?

Irwin says OH, I WAS MANAGER OF A
COMMUNITY CENTRE, BASICALLY, A
CENTRE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
LEAVING CARE, GETTING READY TO
LEAVE THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM.
SO I WAS WORKING HAND IN HAND
PARTNERING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE.
I WOULD SAY I WAS SHINING IN THE
BRIGHT LIGHT OF THEIR POTENTIAL.
THEY WERE DOING THE HEAVY
LIFTING, BUT OUR CENTRE WAS VERY
SUCCESSFUL, AND YOUNG PEOPLE
FROM CARE THERE HAD A VERY
STRONG VOICE, AND WHEN I APPLIED
TO BE THE ADVOCATE, I SAID I
WOULD DO THE SAME.
OR TRY TO DO THE SAME FOR THE
PROVINCE.
AND THE COMMITTEE BOUGHT IT.
SO DID LISA.

Steve says LISA MACLEOD, THE MINISTER.

Irwin says YES.

Steve says IN WHICH CASE HOW
WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE KIND
OF PROGRESS THAT YOU BELIEVE YOU
MADE FOR CHILDREN OVER THE
DECADE PLUS THAT YOU HAD THE JOB?

Irwin says WELL, I'D... FIRST, I'M VERY
PROUD, VERY PROUD TO WORK
ALONGSIDE AN AMAZING GROUP OF
STAFF, PROBABLY THE MOST
DEDICATED STAFF CERTAINLY I'VE
EVER WORKED FOR AND TALENTED
STAFF.
AND WHEN I SAY I WAS LEADING
THEM, BUT I WAS WORKING WITH AND
FOR THEM.
AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE, THOUSANDS
OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO GOT INVOLVED
IN OUR OFFICE, SO PROUD OF WHAT
THEY DID.
PROUD OF EVERY TIME A CHILD
SOMEWHERE IN THIS PROVINCE
REACHED OUT TO OUR OFFICE AND
SAID "I'M NOT BEING HEARD,
SOMETHING'S WRONG IN MY LIFE."
I DON'T KNOW IF THE GOVERNMENT,
ONTARIANS REALLY UNDERSTAND THE
COURAGE THAT IT TAKES FOR A
CHILD WHO IS KILOMETRES AWAY
FROM THEM, SOMETIMES THOUSANDS
OF KILOMETRES AWAY FROM HOME,
ISOLATED, AS THEY SAY, NOT
FEELING CONNECTED TO THEIR OWN
LIFE, THAT THEY CAN PICK UP A
PHONE OR MAKE A TEXT OR USE
FACEBOOK AND SAY TO A STRANGER
"I NEED HELP."

Steve says WILL THEY STILL BE
ABLE TO DO THAT?

Irwin says NO, BECAUSE WHAT THEY'RE
EXPECTING IS SOMEBODY TO SAY
"I'VE GOT YOU."
OKAY, ONE, I WILL LISTEN.
I'M ON YOUR SIDE.
TWO, LET'S MAKE AN ADVOCACY PLAN
TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR VOICE IS
HEARD.
AND THREE, HOW DO YOU WANT TO DO
THIS?
GIVE ME SOME INSTRUCTION.
DO YOU WANT ME TO... I'M GOING
TO STAY WITH YOU.
DO YOU WANT ME TO WALK ALONGSIDE
YOU?
WE'LL DO IT TOGETHER?
DO YOU WANT ME TO WALK IN FRONT
OF YOU AND I'LL SPEAK FOR YOU?
DO YOU WANT ME TO SUPPORT YOU?
YOU GO AHEAD AND I'LL BE THERE
RIGHT BEHIND?
AND YOU MAKE A PLAN AND YOU SAY,
UNTIL YOUR VOICE IS HEARD, YOU
FEEL THAT.
WE'RE NOT GOING TO LEAVE YOU.
THAT'S NOT WHAT AN OMBUDSMAN
DOES.
AN OMBUDSMAN TAKES A COMPLAINT
AND LOOKS FOR ADMINISTRATIVE
FAIRNESS.
ONE YOUNG PERSON TOLD ME THIS, A
YOUNG PERSON IN CARE.
AND REMEMBER, OUR MANDATE WAS
MUCH BROADER THAN CHILDREN IN
CARE.
ONLY CHILDREN IN CARE PART OF
OUR MANDATE WAS GIVEN TO THE
OMBUDSMAN.
BUT ONE YOUNG PERSON IN AREA,
ABOUT 19, SAID I MADE THE
MISTAKE OF ASKING WHAT SHE
WANTED TO DO WITH HER LIFE, AND
SHE SAID I'M NOT GOING TO ANSWER
THAT, BUDDY, BUT I'M GOING TO
TELL YOU THIS.
WHEN I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD, SHE
SAID, I WAS AT HOME, TERRIBLE
THINGS WERE HAPPENING AT HOME.
I DON'T NEED TO TELL YOU, SHE
SAID.
YOU KNOW WHAT LIFE IS LIKE FOR
KIDS BEFORE THEY COME INTO CARE.
AND MY... BUT I WAS, SHE SAID,
IN CONTROL.
I FELT LIKE I WAS DUCKING AND
COVERING AND COULD MANAGE.
AND THEN ONE DAY I'M SITTING IN
CLASSROOM AND A KNOCK COMES ON
MY DOOR IN MY SCHOOL, AND THEY
SAY I HAVE TO GO DOWN TO THE
OFFICE.
AND SHE SAID I WENT DOWN TO THE
OFFICE AND THERE WAS THIS NICE
LADY THERE AND I HAD TO MEET
HER, AND SHE ASKED HOW THINGS
WERE GOING AT HOME.
AND SHE SAID MY HEAD STARTED
SPINNING BECAUSE I KNEW THINGS
WERE UP.
LIKE, MY SECRET WAS OUT.
AND I HAD NO CONTROL OVER THAT.
AND THEN SHE ASKED ME MORE
QUESTIONS, BUT SHE LOOKED AT MY
ARMS AND LEGS FOR BRUISES, OUT
OF MY CONTROL.
AND THEN SHE SAID WE HAVE TO GO
TO YOUR HOME.
OUT OF MY CONTROL.
I KNEW, SHE SAID, MY MOM WAS
GOING TO FREAK OUT.
AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED, SHE
SAID.
OUT OF MY CONTROL.
THEN THE WORKER SAID YOU GOT TO
COME WITH ME.
OUT OF MY CONTROL.
SHE SAID, SHE BROUGHT ME TO A
TEMPORARY FOSTER HOME.
I DIDN'T KNOW THESE PEOPLE.
I DIDN'T KNOW WHO I WAS LIVING
WITH.
I DIDN'T KNOW THE RULES.
ALL OUT OF MY CONTROL.
AND THEN SHE SAID, WELL, I'M
GOING TO LEAVE, BUT A NEW WORKER
IS GOING TO COME TOMORROW
BECAUSE I'M THE INTAKE WORKER
AND I LEARNED ABOUT FAMILY
SERVICE WORKERS, SHE SAID.
SO THEY CAME.
THAT WAS THE FIRST OF 20 WORKERS
I HAD IN MY TIME IN CARE, AND I
MOVED NINE TIMES, WHICH IS
PRETTY GOOD FOR A KID IN CARE,
AND THEN, THEY SAID, IN MY LAST
TIME, WHEN I TURNED 18, I WAS IN
A FOSTER HOME, I SAID I WANTED
TO STAY, AND THEY SAID YOU
CAN'T.
YOU HAVE TO LIVE ON YOUR OWN.
WE'LL GIVE YOU SOME MONEY, BUT
YOU HAVE TO LIVE ON YOUR OWN.
I'M 19 AND NOW LOOKING AT 21
WHEN I'M GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE
THE SYSTEM ALONE, NOT FEELING IN
CONTROL OF MY LIFE.
NOTHING HAPPENED TO ME FROM THE
TIME I WAS BORN THAT WAS EVER IN
MY CONTROL, AND YOU ASK ME
WHY... WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY
LIFE.
WHAT MAKES YOU THINK IF I'VE HAD
THAT EXPERIENCE OF HAVING NO
CONTROL OVER ANYTHING, WHAT
MAKES YOU THINK I WOULD ASPIRE
TO PLAN FOR ANYTHING?
THAT'S WHY WE JUST LET LIFE
SOMETIMES WASH OVER US.
OR THAT'S WHY WE ACT
IMPULSIVELY.
SO, I WANT TO TELL YOU WHY YOUR
OFFICE IS IMPORTANT.
BECAUSE YOU ARE AROUND TO HELP
US GAIN A SENSE OF CONTROL OVER
OUR LIVES, BY HAVING A VOICE.
IT'S NOT ONLY JUST OUR RIGHTS.
IT'S GOING TO HELP US, AND
THAT'S NOT SOMETHING THE
OMBUDSMAN CAN DO.
IT'S NOT SOMETHING THE OMBUDSMAN
WANTS TO DO.
IT'S NOT HIS MANDATE.
HE SAID THAT.
AND IT'S NOT SOMETHING, FRANKLY,
A MINISTER CAN DO OR A MINISTRY
CAN DO BECAUSE THEY HAVE SKIN IN
THE GAME.
WHAT THOSE KIDS NEED IS SOMEBODY
WHO DOESN'T, WHO ONLY IS AROUND
TO ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE A
VOICE, HAVE SOMEONE WHO HAS AN
OBLIGATION TO HELP THEM HAVE A
SENSE OF CONTROL OVER WHAT'S
HAPPENING TO THEM.
AND YOU ASKED ME WHAT I'M PROUD
OF?
ALL OF THAT.
BY THE WORK THAT YOUNG PEOPLE
HAVE DONE, WHETHER IT'S YOUTH
LEAVING CARE HERE AND TURNED THE
LEGISLATURE UPSIDE DOWN AND THE
SYSTEM UPSIDE DOWN OR BETTERS
THE HOPE WHICH THE YOUNG
PEOPLE'S REPORT FOUND ITS WAY
INTO BENTWOOD BOX AND WAS
MENTIONED AS ONE OF THE ONLY
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES FOR
INDIGENOUS YOUTH MENTIONED IN
THE TRC FINAL REPORT, OR WE HAVE
SOMETHING TO SAY WHICH SPARKED
DON TERRA ADVOCACY COALITION,
THE ONTARIO AUTISM COALITION.
WE HAVE A REPORT WRITTEN BY
YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE DISABLED.
WHEN THE MINISTER SAYS SUBPAR
WORK, SHE'S TALKING TO THOSE
YOUNG PEOPLE WHO PARTNERED WITH
US, AND IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
THE MINISTER CAN TRY AND BULLY
ME THIS LATE IN THE GAME, BUT
SHE IS NOT GOING TO BULLY THE
YOUNG PEOPLE AND CHILDREN IN HER
MANDATE.
IT'S DONE.
AND SO WE NEED TO SAY
"WHATEVER."
WE'RE MOVING ON TOGETHER.
SERVICE PROVIDERS, YOUNG PEOPLE,
UNIONS, HOSPITALS, POLICE, ALL
WHO COME TO THE TABLE, BROUGHT
THERE BY THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF
THIS PROVINCE OVER 10 YEARS, WHO
CREATED THE NEW CHILD YOUTH
FAMILY SERVICE ACT WHICH SAYS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE MUST BE
PARTICIPATING IN THE DECISIONS
THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR LIVES.
THAT'S ACTUALLY THE LAW NOW
BECAUSE YOUNG PEOPLE PUT IT
THERE.
IT SAYS THAT ALL SERVICE MUST BE
CHILD CENTRED.
THAT MEANS FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live."

Steve says DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA
WHAT HAPPENED TO OR WHAT HAS
BEFALLEN THAT YOUNG WOMAN YOU
TALKED ABOUT?

Irwin says I DON'T KNOW.
I MET THOUSANDS.
I MET HER ABOUT NINE YEARS AGO.

Steve says HMM.
WE HAVE JUST A COUPLE OF MINUTES
LEFT HERE, AND WE SHOULD TAKE,
ADMITTEDLY, A BRIEF LOOK AT THE
THUNDER BAY SITUATION WHICH WAS
YOUR LAST REPORT.

Irwin says MM-HM.

Steve says JOHNSON CHILDREN
SERVICES.
THESE WERE THREE YOUTH HOMES, I
GUESS, IN THUNDER BAY, OWNED BY
JOHNSON CHILDREN SERVICES.
THESE ARE KIDS IN FOSTER CARE,
THAT KIND OF THING.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE... WILL
BE THE MOST IMPORTANT
RECOMMENDATIONS TO EMERGE FROM
THAT REPORT THAT YOU HOPE WILL
BE FOLLOWED UP ON?

The caption changes to "No standard of care."

Irwin says WELL, THE MOST IMPORTANT
RECOMMENDATION FOR ME IS THAT
GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO SAY IT'S OUR
RESPONSIBILITY.
THAT WAS ONE OF THE
RECOMMENDATIONS THAT THE
MINISTRY DIDN'T WANT TO ACCEPT.
THAT THE BUCK STOPS WITH
GOVERNMENT.
IT'S THEIR RESPONSIBILITY HOW
CHILDREN ARE RAISED.
THE CHILDREN THAT THEY, THE
GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE
CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY, BRING
INTO CARE FOR THEIR OWN
PROTECTION, WELL AT MINIMUM THEY
NEED TO SURVIVE.

Steve says THEY WEREN'T BEING
ADEQUATELY SUPERVISED.
KIDS WERE CUTTING THEMSELVES.

Irwin says IN THE HOMES?

Steve says YEAH.

Irwin says THERE WERE ALLEGATIONS OF
DRUGS, THERE WAS FOOD OUT OF
DATE IF THERE WAS FOOD AT ALL.
THERE WAS OVER-MEDICATION OF
KIDS, AND STAFF FEELING LIKE
THEY WEREN'T BEING TRAINED
PROPERLY IN ORDER TO SERVE THE
KIDS THAT THEY HAD.
AND THAT IS AN EXPERIENCE IN
RESIDENTIAL CARE, AND THE BUCK
NEEDS TO STOP AT THE PROVINCE.
THERE IS STILL NO STANDARDS OF
CARE.
THIS MINISTRY AND THIS
GOVERNMENT HAS HAD THE CORONER'S
REPORT FOR EIGHT MONTHS.
IT'S HAD OUR REPORT FOR MONTHS.
THERE'S STILL NO STANDARDS OF
CARE FOR CHILDREN IN RESIDENTIAL
CARE.

Steve says CORONER'S REPORT
BECAUSE SOMEBODY DIED.

Irwin says THE CORONER WITH US LOOKED AT
THE DEATHS OF 12 CHILDREN WHO
DIED IN RESIDENTIAL CARE.

Steve says YEAH.

Irwin says AND THAT WAS PRODUCED EIGHT
MONTHS AGO.
IT'S BEEN ON THIS GOVERNMENT'S
PLATE FOR EIGHT MONTHS, AND
STILL NO STANDARDS OF CARE.
STILL NO SUPPORT AND TRAINING TO
THE STAFF AND THE FOSTER PARENTS
WHO ARE CAREGIVERS, AND THAT
CORONER'S REPORT, AS WELL AS
OURS, SAID YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO
HAVE A VOICE.
WELL, WHAT I'VE SEEN IS THE
CUTTING OF THE VERY MINISTRY FOR
CHILDREN YOUTH SERVICES, CUTTING
OF OUR OFFICE AND ALLEGEDLY CUT
OF A BILLION DOLLARS OUT OF
SOCIAL SERVICES BUDGET.

Steve says IRWIN, JUST IN OUR
LAST FEW SECONDS, WHAT'S NEXT
FOR YOU?

The caption changes to "Hope for change."

Irwin says I'M THINKING OF MY KIDS AND
MY FAMILY, AND I'M THINKING OF
THE POLITICIANS WHO SAY GOING TO
SPEND MORE TIME WITH MY FAMILY
AND KIDS, AND I USED TO THINK IT
WAS AN EXCUSE, BUT NOW I KNOW
IT'S REAL.
IT'S BEEN TAXING.
BUT I WILL SAY THIS.
WOODSWORTH SAID WE ALL HAVE TO
TAKE OUR ROLE AND RIGHTFUL PLACE
IN THE WORLD'S WORK AND THE
WORLD'S STRUGGLES, AND I WILL
CONTINUE TO DO THAT.
I WANT TO SAY TOMORROW IS YOUTH
AND CARE DAY, AND I NEED TO SAY
THIS.
I BELIEVE, ESPECIALLY NOW, AFTER
I'VE HEARD WHAT THE MINISTRY
SAID, I BELIEVE IN YOU, TO THE
YOUNG PEOPLE IN CARE.
I THINK I NEED TO SAY THIS TO
ONTARIO.
YOU NEED TO STEP UP AND SAY THAT
TO YOUNG PEOPLE IN CARE AS WELL.
YOU NEED TO SAY I BELIEVE IN
THEM.
USE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA.
LOOK UP MY REAL LIFE BOOK, THE
REPORT THAT YOUNG PEOPLE WROTE
THAT CHANGED THIS PROVINCE.
LOOK IT UP, READ IT, AND PASS IT
ON TO YOUR CO-WORKERS.
GOOGLE IT, MY REAL LIFE BOOK.
STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH YOUNG
PEOPLE IN CARE, AND WE'LL GET
THROUGH THIS WINTER.
SPRING IS COMING.
I WAS TELLING YOU I WATCHED THE
RAPTORS GAME, AND NOW I HAVE
THIS NEW HASHTAG I THINK ABOUT
FOUR BOUNCES, HASHTAG FOUR
BOUNCES.
WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS.
WE CAN DO THIS, PEOPLE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Colin Ellis, @ColinEllis81; Producer: Patricia Kozicka, @TrishKozicka."

Steve says THAT'S IRWIN ELMAN WHO
IS THE FORMER PROVINCIAL
ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH.
THANKS FOR COMING IN TO TVO
TONIGHT, IRWIN.

Irwin says THANK YOU.

Watch: When a Child Advocate's Door Closes