Ford's move to axe child advocate office 'a nightmare,' children's rights lawyer says

Posted
November 26, 2018

Youth workers and lawyers are joining with the Ontario child advocate to call on the Ford government to reconsider its decision to cut the position. 

Cheyanne Ratnam says she was in tears when she heard the news.

"I was livid, I was emotional," said Ratnam, 31.

As a young person, she lived in group homes and now works with young people at A Way Home, an agency aimed at ending youth homelessness.

 

"You're silencing a whole bunch of people who were afraid to speak before," she said in an interview. "You created and nurtured this environment where it was safe to speak up and now you're taking that away."

The Ontario government announced in its fall economic statement Thursday afternoon that it would be closing the child advocate office, moving its responsibilities to an expanded Ombudsman's office, one of several cuts announced by a government that has said Ontario faces a $14.5-billion deficit.

Soon afterwards, the province's first independent child and youth advocate​, Irwin Elman, released a statement, saying he learned of the government's plans to cut his job through the media.

"I received no official notice or briefing." 

Elman ended his statement with a plea to Doug Ford's government.

"This government must pause, consult and reconsider its plan."

Children, Community and Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod says the government will continue to protect children, including those living in provincial care or in the youth justice system. 

 

"The fiercest child advocate in this province will be me," she said Thursday morning in the Legislature.

Read more: Ford's move to axe child advocate office 'a nightmare,' children's rights lawyer says