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Ontario Expanding Mandate for Review of Motherisk Program

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Ontario Expanding Mandate for Review of Motherisk Program

Independent Review to Look at Additional Areas and Longer Timeframe

Ministry of the Attorney General

Ontario is expanding the mandate of the ongoing independent review into the Motherisk hair analysis program at the Hospital for Sick Children.

After extensive research and consultation with leading experts in forensic toxicology, the Honourable Susan Lang has recommended an increase in the scope of her mandate in order to carry out a broader review of the program.

In response to this request, the review will now:

  • Consider the reliability of hair-strand drug and alcohol testing methods used by the Motherisk laboratory, beyond the method known as "immunoassay biochemical"
  • Expand the time period covered by the review by five years to now include testing done from 2010 to 2015
  • Consider the extent to which the operation of the Motherisk laboratory between 2005 and 2015 adhered to internationally-recognized forensic standards
  • Consider other matters related to the operation of the laboratory as appropriate.

In addition, out of an abundance of caution, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services has directed children's aid societies to immediately stop using or relying on hair strand drug and alcohol testing in the course of providing child protection services.

The findings of this independent review will determine whether further action is needed to ensure public confidence in the province's child protection and criminal justice systems. To help ensure the independent review has the necessary time and resources to fulfil its expanded mandate, a final report is now due Dec. 15, 2015.

Quick Facts

  • The final report will be made available to the public on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.
  • The scope of the Honourable Susan Lang’s review does not include a review of any specific criminal or child protection cases. Part of her mandate is to provide the government with advice about whether any further review of specific cases is necessary and to determine whether any additional actions are needed.

Background Information

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“It is critically important that the institutions upon which our justice system relies are held to an extremely high standard. Our families and our children deserve no less. I commend the Honourable Susan Lang for the thorough job she is doing and am pleased to provide her the time and resources she needs to complete this essential work.”

Madeleine Meilleur

Attorney General

“The bedrock of Ontario's child protection system is public confidence. Expanding the mandate of this independent review will enable our government to sustain that confidence and to help ensure that child protection work continues to be in the best interests of children. On behalf of Ontario's most vulnerable, I thank the Honourable Susan Lang for her continued commitment to this important work.”

Tracy MacCharles

Minister of Children and Youth Services

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