QUEEN’S PARK — The NDP critic for Children and Youth Services Monique Taylor was joined by young people Thursday, who begged the Ford government to reverse its cruel decision to cut the Ontario Child Advocate’s Office.
“The most vulnerable children and youth in Ontario will be left to fend for themselves,” Taylor said. “When children in care — kids who are supposed to be under the watch of the government — are being abused or hurt, the Child Advocate is where they are supposed to turn. To take that resource away from them is cruel.”
Youth and adults with lived experiences in care, child and youth advocates, and parents packed into the Legislature to express their disgust and concern, and to support the NDP as Taylor questioned the Ford Conservatives on the cut.
“By removing the Child Advocate’s Office, the government will be encouraging the ongoing trend of youth being silenced,” Regan Bucciol, a former youth in care, said. Bucciol was among a group of youth with lived experiences in care who begged the Conservatives to maintain the office that protects children and youth from abuse, holds their abusers accountable and speaks up for vulnerable youth’s physical, emotional and mental health needs.
This morning, a panel of youth stressed the importance of an independent Child Advocate at a packed news conference organized by the Ontario Children’s Advocacy Coalition (OCAC) and Ryerson University’s School of Child & Youth Care.
Ford’s decision “will increase the risk of children falling through the cracks and strip them of their ability to be heard when their safety, health and well-being is at risk,” an OCAC spokesperson said. “Nearly 13,000 children in government care will now have no way to hold guardians like foster homes accountable.”