October 25, 2016

Statement to the Legislature

The Honourable Michael Coteau
Minister of Children and Youth Services

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize October as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Ontario and to help draw attention to the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies' annual Purple Ribbon Campaign.

The Purple Ribbon Campaign encourages Ontarians from all corners of our province to learn the signs of child abuse and neglect. And it reminds us that everyone has a duty - a legal duty - to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

I thank the members of the House who are joining me in bringing awareness to this important cause by wearing a purple ribbon today.

Ontarians should never hesitate to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect. They do not need to be sure a child is or may be in need of protection to make a report to a children's aid society. They only need reasonable grounds for their suspicion.

Members of the public, including professionals who work with children and youth, can find contact information for their local children's aid society by dialing 411, where applicable, or by visiting the Ministry of Children and Youth Services' website at Ontario.ca/stopchildabuse.

Child abuse knows no barriers or boundaries. And it takes on many forms.

It can be physical, emotional or sexual.

Or it can take the form of neglect - failing to provide a child with basic needs such as food, shelter, and safety.

Sadly, every year children's aid societies across the province receive many reports of alleged abuse and neglect.

This sobering reality is what drives our government to be there for their children and to give them the support they need.

And it is why I call on all Ontarians - neighbours, colleagues, coaches, friends and professionals working with children - to be vigilant and report any reasonable suspicions you may have to a children's aid society.

In support of Child Abuse Prevention Month, my ministry is conducting a public awareness campaign to inform the general public of their duty to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect and we are providing all MPPs with campaign materials for their constituency offices.

We also continue to provide funding to the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies to train child protection staff so they can promptly respond to suspected cases of abuse or neglect.

I salute all of Ontario's children's aid societies and Indigenous child well-being societies, their dedicated board members and management, and compassionate front line staff who work every day to serve kids who need us the most.

Thank you for making a real difference in the lives of those at risk.

Like children's aid societies, our government is committed to improving the lives of all young Ontarians, including those receiving children's aid society services.

Over the last decade, our government has taken action to make the child welfare system more responsive to individual family needs and more accountable to the public.

We have introduced reforms that have resulted in fewer kids coming into care and more kids being adopted or placed in permanent homes.

We have taken action to better support young people previously and currently in the care of a children's aid society.

And we continue to work with children's aid societies to build a sustainable system that achieves better outcomes for the children and youth that rely on us.

While we have taken important steps to improve the child welfare system, we know there is more work to be done.

That is why we are working with service providers, youth, families and our partners to implement a strategy to drive better outcomes for child, youth and family services.

It will support accessible and coordinated services that are more responsive to individual family and youth needs.

The strategy will drive quality and consistency in the child welfare system.

It will strengthen governance and accountability through improved monitoring, oversight and reporting as well as transparency.

And - in collaboration with Indigenous partners and leaders - it will include a unique approach for Indigenous communities.

Mr. Speaker, our government is working hard to promote the protection of our children and youth.

But reporting and ending child abuse and neglect is a collective responsibility.

I urge all members of this House - and all Ontarians - to learn the signs of child abuse and neglect and to report known or suspected cases to your local children's aid society.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Honourable Michael Coteau
Minister of Children and Youth Services