Ministry of the Attorney General
Statement from the Minister of Children and Youth Services and the Attorney General on the Motherisk Commission Final Report
Toronto, ON – Feb 26, 2018
Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General made the following statement on the release of the final report of the Motherisk Commission:
“What happened to the children and families impacted by the flawed Motherisk hair testing was heartbreaking. In her report, the Commissioner, the Honourable Judith Beaman, recognized the harm that the Motherisk hair testing had on many families in this province – particularly those belonging to racialized, Indigenous and vulnerable communities. We thank Commissioner Beaman for her detailed and thoughtful report, which looked at more than 1,200 child protection matters involving Motherisk hair strand testing, and includes 32 comprehensive recommendations, directed at 17 ministries and organizations.
Our government accepts these recommendations. They will guide us as we continue to strengthen, modernize and transform our child welfare system to place children, youth and families at the centre of everything we do. This includes providing them with fair, consistent and culturally appropriate services that address their individual needs and help them achieve best outcomes.
As immediate first steps, our government will follow Commissioner Beaman’s advice to:
- Continue the confidential counselling services that were offered to families through the commission
- Establish a task force of outside experts, as well as families, Indigenous Peoples and the Black community, to guide our next steps as we work to address the report’s recommendations
- Ask the judiciary, the Law Society of Ontario, the Family Rules Committee and Legal Aid Ontario to consider the relevant recommendations they could implement including those on education and amendments to the Family Law Rules.
To demonstrate our commitment to this work, the government will report publicly on our progress within one year.
This is in addition to the work that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services undertook upon first learning of the flawed testing – including issuing a directive to all children’s aid societies in Ontario to immediately stop using or relying on hair strand drug and alcohol testing.
In keeping with Commissioner Beaman’s advice, our government has also introduced the Forensic Laboratories Act – a bill that, if passed, would help enhance the oversight of forensic labs in Ontario to improve accountability and transparency of forensic tests. Our commitments today build on our existing work to improve outcomes for all Ontario families, including Ontario’s Three-Year Anti-Racism Strategy, the Anti-Black Racism Strategy and the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy.
Taken together, these steps represent a significant shift to a more holistic, equitable, and accountable delivery of child welfare and justice services in Ontario.
Though we cannot change the past, we can and will support impacted families to find peace and healing, and to help ensure this never happens again. Much positive work has already been done, but we know there is more to do. We’re confident that, with the help of our partners in the child welfare and justice sectors, we can continue to transform the entire system to one that better serves children and families.”
Listen to the audio below: