Statement by Minister Marie Bountrogianni

Archived Release

Statement by Minister Marie Bountrogianni

Re: Ombudsman's report on children with complex special needs QUEEN'S PARK, ON, May 26 - I want to thank the Ombudsman and his dedicated staff for preparing an important report on a very vulnerable group of children and families. The report has brought the issue into greater focus and enabled more families to share their stories. This is important and helps us understand the complexities each family has faced. It also helps us understand how government-funded services have helped these families -- and where there are gaps. As a children's mental health professional and as a parent, I recognize that we can and must raise the bar for children's services. These challenges cannot be resolved with unsustainable, short-term approaches. Our approach is different. The McGuinty government will continue to move forward with the most aggressive children's agenda in the country. The best way to help families is to build a bigger, better service system that meets the needs of children with special needs in their communities. New investments totalling more than $100 million -- more than a 15 per cent increase -- are already at work providing more services through children's treatment centres, children's mental health and autism programs. The Ombudsman has signalled that more needs to be done, and this government agrees. His report will not gather dust. The government is moving immediately to implement the number-one recommendation of the Ombudsman's report. I have already instructed Children's Aid Societies to identify children with complex special needs who entered care for the sole purpose of accessing services. We will work to help these families, where no protection issues exist, to regain and keep custody of their children. It's time we made special needs services for children friendlier and more sensible for families. This is a beginning -- a starting point to making services work for children and their families. I am actively developing plans to address the recommendations of the Ombudsman, as well as advice we have received from the province's Child Advocate, service providers and parents. I am grateful to the Ombudsman for his valuable work. His report and recommendations will be acted upon quickly, with the urgency and priority they -- and the families involved -- deserve. Disponible en fran├žais www.children.gov.on.caFor further information: Andrew Weir, Minister's Office, (416) 212-7159; Anne Machowski-Smith, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, (416) 325-5156