Decision not to hold inquest into the death of Chazz Petrella is "a missed opportunity," says Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

TORONTO, Jan. 31, 2017 /CNW/ - The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth is disappointed to learn that the Chief Coroner of Ontario will not be exercising his discretionary powers to call an inquest into the death of 12-year-old Chazz Petrella. The Petrellas informed the Advocate's Office of the Chief Coroner's decision on Friday 27 January.

"To say that I am disappointed in this missed opportunity to improve the lives of children with mental health challenges in this province is a great understatement," said Irwin Elman, Ontario's Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. "The public has more than expressed an interest and desire to see children and youth in similar circumstances receive the supports they need to thrive and fulfill their potential."

Chazz Petrella was 12 years old when he committed suicide at their Cobourg, Ontario home on 21 August 2014. At the time of his death, many different services and sectors – including healthcare, education, child protection, children's mental health and emergency services – were involved in his life. On the night before he was found dead, Chazz's parents brought him to the emergency ward of his local hospital, but was then released that same night.

"The decision not to hold an inquest seems to imply to the Province that 'There is nothing to see here, move along,'" said Elman. "That services provided to Chazz were considered excellent even as his family disagrees, and that discussions about changes to mental health services in Ontario can be done behind closed doors in downtown Toronto, are incorrect in my view."

Chazz's parents, Elman says, have long been pushing for an inquest that would explore the circumstances of their son's death to prevent similar deaths of children in the future.

"Our Office will explore what steps we may be able to undertake within the limits of our own legislation to ensure Chazz's voice is heard," said Elman. "We will connect with the family and listen, and I will tell them how truly sorry I am at this decision."

About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth (the Advocate's Office) reports directly to the Legislature of Ontario and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The advocates receive and respond to concerns from children, youth and families who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools).

The Advocate's Office can also conduct investigations and make recommendations to improve children's aid society services and services provided by residential licensees where a children's aid society is the placing agency.

The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement. For more information, visit: www.provincialadvocate.on.ca. For updates, read the Advocate's Blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

SOURCE Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

To view this news release in HTML formatting, please use the following URL: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2017/31/c5945.html

For further information: Media Contact: Akihiko Tse, Communications, Media Relations Coordinator, (416)-325-5994, akihiko.tse@provincialadvocate.on.ca, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

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http://provincialadvocate.on.ca

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