Province must act on jury recommendations in Baldwin case: OPSEU

TORONTO, Feb. 14, 2014 /CNW/ - The Ministry of Children and Youth Services must act immediately to implement the recommendations of a coroner's jury which investigated the circumstances behind the second-degree murder of five-year old Jeffrey Baldwin, the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said today.

"The facts behind Jeffrey's tragic neglect and death are unimaginable," said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas, who represents more than 3,600 child protection workers in the province. "But the coroner's jury has provided the Ministry with a roadmap of recommendations that, if implemented immediately, will greatly reduce the risk of another tragedy like this to ever occur again.

"OPSEU and other unions representing child protection workers have been calling on the provincial government for years to toughen standards and improve funding in this sector. But as is too often the case, our requests fall through the cracks. The jury's recommendations make it clear improvements must be made now."

Thomas noted that for years OPSEU has been drawing attention to the fact that notwithstanding the standards put in place by the Ministry, it has failed to provide adequate funding that would ensure those regulations are met with proper levels of staffing.

Key among the jury's 103 recommendations is one that calls on a children's aid society to maintain annual home visits to children under the age of five even after the case file is closed. In Jeffrey's case, the jury heard that the Catholic Children's Aid Society had stopped visits, even though the persons convicted in his murder - his grandparents - had a lengthy record of previous child abuse involving other children.

Among the other inquest recommendations, as reported today by Canadian Press:

  • All child care services have access to relevant records, including family history across the province.
  • Information be shared among different agencies to prioritize child safety over privacy interest.
  • Rules be amended so child protection workers must interview and have access to all adults living in the home and verify who they are using legal identification.
  • An advertising campaign be created to improve awareness about the duty to report child abuse.
  • A 1-800 number be created to report child abuse.
  • Ontario's Ministry of Children Youth Services look into penalties for non professionals who don't report serious child abuse.
  • Better training of child protection workers in interviewing and investigation techniques.
  • The jury also recommended that a permanent memorial to Baldwin be built, such as a parkette, "so this is never forgotten."
  • All child care services have access to relevant records, including family history across the province.

SOURCE OPSEU

For further information:

Greg Hamara
OPSEU Communications
647-238-9933