Tuesday 6 December 1994

Adoption Disclosure Statute Law Amendment Act, 1994, Bill 158, Mr Martin /

Loi de 1994 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne la divulgation de renseignements sur les adoptions, projet de loi 158, M. Martin

Willa Marcus

Frank Rioux

Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies

Sandy Moschenko, manager of accreditation

Elaine Rutherford, supervisor, adoption disclosure services, Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto

Gemma Nicholson, supervisor, adoption disclosure services, Catholic Children's Aid Society

of Metropolitan Toronto


*Chair / Président: Beer, Charles (York-Mackenzie L)

*Vice-Chair /Vice-Président: Eddy, Ron (Brant-Haldimand L)

*Carter, Jenny (Peterborough ND)

Cunningham, Dianne (London North/-Nord PC)

*Gigantes, Evelyn, (Ottawa Centre ND)

*Jamison, Norm (Norfolk ND)

*Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie ND)

*McGuinty, Dalton (Ottawa South/-Sud L)

*O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York ND)

*O'Neill, Yvonne (Ottawa-Rideau L)

Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West/-Ouest PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent ND) for Mr Rizzo

Jackson, Cameron (Burlington South/-Sud PC) for Mrs Cunningham

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Ministry of Community and Social Services:

Belford, Joan, policy analyst, children's services branch

Calcott, John, legal counsel

Clerk / Greffier: Arnott, Doug

Staff / Personnel:

Drummond, Alison, research officer, Legislative Research Service

Schuh, Cornelia, deputy chief legislative counsel

The committee met at 1600 in room 151.


Consideration of Bill 158, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act and the Child and Family Services Act in respect of Adoption Disclosure / Projet de loi 158, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les statistiques de l'état civil et la Loi sur les services à l'enfance et à la famille en ce qui concerne la divulgation de renseignements sur les adoptions.

The Chair (Mr Charles Beer): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, the standing committee on social development is now in session. We are examining Bill 158, An Act to amend the Vital Statistics Act and the Child and Family Services Act in respect of Adoption Disclosure. Members of the committee, we have three presenters this afternoon, following which we will move on to clause-by-clause review of the bill. I apologize to those presenters who have been waiting for a while. We had votes in the House and that has delayed the start of the committee, but we will certainly provide you with all the time you were going to have.


The Chair: With that by introduction, I would then invite Willa Marcus to come forward. Just anywhere at all. Help yourself to some water, and may I welcome you to the committee. Once you're settled, please go ahead with your presentation.

Mrs Willa Marcus: I was scheduled to speak at 3:30 and I'm getting to speak at 4, so I think we can say that we've been waiting seven years and one half-hour for this bill.

I've come to speak before you to support it. I should tell you that I'm an adoptive mother of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl who we were thrilled to adopt in Ontario when she was an infant. I support this bill very strongly and I want to speak as an adoptive parent in support of this bill. I think it's important that we speak up as well, and I know you've already heard from some adoptive parents along the same lines.

I see this bill as overdue, obviously, and a part of normalization of adoption. I see adoption as a form of a non-traditional family. I know that's a phrase that's used in other contexts, and I see that this is another form of a non-traditional family, which, though it's different from the biological family, is also equal to it.

I would like to address the issues which come before you specifically on this bill and then very briefly address what I see as the very important social context of adoption into which this bill fits and the other forms of stigma and discrimination, which I'll tell you about briefly, which also persist in the law and about which we'll be coming before you and other legislators again in the future.

I believe that adoptees, or as you call them in the bill adopted persons, have a right to the information in their certificates of live birth. I know Holly Kramer would have used that phrase. They are the only people in society who don't have a right to that type of information just by obvious right, and I don't think it's appropriate for them to be denied it.

Aside from the rights question, I also think the research does indicate that it's actually healthy for the adoptee and the adoptive family and the birth parents. So that's good, because even if it weren't, we'd still be left with the rights issue.

As you know, many adoptees and birth parents are seeking to meet each other despite the state of the current law. One of the things that I think is important about this law is that it will bring the law in line with reality. I always think laws are better when they go in line with reality and they don't always. That's why it's quite essential that it be passed, because the situation is going to go on and people are going to continue their own searches, and this at least will, as I said, put some accord between the reality and the law.

I want to address what seems to be the key question here, as I understand, of contention, which is the rights of the birth parents. I actually would like to see a law that goes further than this. I don't believe in the secrecy that attaches to adoption. I consider that's part of the stigma. In fact I would like to see a law where birth parents also have the right to have access to the information in the birth certificate of the adopted child.

I mean, people are allowed to marry and unmarry with no restrictions put on the law of how many times you can change your mind about that decision. You can't change your mind about having placed a child for adoption, but certainly in terms of your desire to have some type of contact, some type of knowledge of that child, I don't think you can say you're going to make that decision when the child is placed and never revisit that decision.

Of course the right of birth parents to secrecy I think must be respected, and I do regard it as a question of secrecy as opposed to privacy. I know Holly Kramer also addressed this issue of the difference between privacy and anonymity. I think it's a question of birth parents opting for secrecy when they opt for the no-contact registry, but I do believe that has to be respected.

But one of the elements that concerns me is, people are talking about birth mothers. This is a woman's issue, because we are talking about mainly birth mothers, and in fact from my understanding in terms of the searches mainly daughters, but I don't feel that we have a really good understanding of who we're talking about when we say that these birth parents don't want to have the contact. I think that we think we know what we're talking about, and I know that some adoption agencies and the CAS have been called, but I think that there should be some resources devoted to actually figuring out what the precise concerns of these birth parents are, and as I said, I'm not sure that we know. I think that we think we know, but I'm not sure that we do.

I'm not sure whether we have any sense of whether there's any recurring themes that come out if we were to talk to them. For example, we might find that there's a real issue in terms of age. We might find, for example, that older birth mothers feel a certain way and younger ones feel differently, and that might change our view of how we would want to design legislation. I don't know. I'm just making this up. I feel that the adoptive family tends not to be studied except as a form of control group to look at the normal family, and if the adoptive family is understudied, the needs and concerns of birth parents -- I mean, they're just not even in the picture.

So when we say we want to protect the birth parents, I agree with that and I agree with those rights, but I'm not convinced that we know what interests we're protecting. I look forward to us moving forward on this whole issue and in fact having more information so that we can then give birth parents rights under this law as well. From that point of view, I do agree with the no-contact registry for now, as I think it's necessary to get the law passed.

I'm a little concerned about the fine. I guess it has to be in there if you're going to have the no-contact registry because it gives bite to the meaning of no contact, but I do think it does leave us in a situation where going around the law, or going around -- sort of according reality with the law still becomes an excellent option, because I'll have to say to my daughter, when she has to confront this issue, depending on how she wants to confront it, "Well, maybe you better not go and ask for your certificate of live birth and maybe we can find your birth parents without doing that, because if you're on the no-contact registry, then we've got a whole other set of issues we've got to deal with that we won't have to deal with if we can do this by not getting the certificate of live birth." You have to consider those issues.

This law is really, really late in the game. I mean, as soon as we pass this law, we're going to have to start looking at a bunch of other issues. For example, at least 50% of adoptions in Ontario are international, and I know you're going to say, "That's wonderful, because that's federal jurisdiction." I know; this is Canada and that's the first thing you say, but we have things like the intercountry treaty on adoption and the issues in relationship to disclosure are going to have an impact on the province, and these are going to make our issues in relation to domestic adoptions in Ontario look like, "Boy, was that ever simple." So once we've passed this, we've got to move on to start dealing with some other issues which are important.

I know when we adopted our daughter we were told about the adoption registry and that she could register and that the birth parent could register, and what occurred to my husband and I was that by the time our daughter was 18, it was likely that the law was going to have changed completely. I don't know if that's the thing that also goes through other people's minds when they adopt, but it seems to me that we should at least put in the law -- and I know it's in the law that you have to be informed about the adoption registry.

Obviously it's going to change now, but it seems to me it's important that we put something in the law which means that agencies must tell all the parties to the adoption that not only is the law about disclosure what it is now, but there is this debate going on, and we can no longer tell you that 18 years from now we can guarantee you confidentiality. We at least have to start solving the problems for the future now, and it seems to me it's important that all the parties be told this now, because it's sort of ridiculous. It's like, you know, I wanted to learn to play the piano but it would take 10 years and that was 10 years ago. At least we can start solving the problem of down the road for now.


Now I would like to go, briefly, into my view of one of the reasons not to support this. I mean, I support this bill, but what I'm trying to say is that there is sort of a double edge to adoption disclosure.

The very positive edge is a total rejection of the idea that there's one model of a family, and that's got to be this sort of biological mother and father and children and it can't include a birth parent and there can only be one real mother. My daughter has two real mothers. I am real, and I don't know how I can think of her birth mother as not being real. It's sort of difficult. She gave birth to her, so she's got to be real to some degree. I consider she has two real mothers. Now, this is not your normal traditional family, but I think this is a family which is of equal value and deserves equal respect in society and equal legal rights. So I support all this for that reason.

I don't support it from the point of view of thinking of adoption as being illegitimate and that really what we want to do -- I'm thinking of the media image that you sometimes see of the only "real family" is sort of the reunited family. What does that do for the whole time the child was growing up? I don't support that sort of stigmatized view of adoption, which I consider is very negative to the adoptive parents, to the adoptee and to the birth parents.

The history of adoption is that adoptive families have not been treated as equal to procreative families. It's only in the last 40 years that the family law has been changed so that adopted children actually could inherit from their adoptive parents. There was a long period of time where you had both sealed records and adopted children who -- the adopted children inherited from their mother and father, but, for example, in terms of the grandparents, they did not inherit from them. This sends a very powerful message about what your status is in that family.

That law has been changed, but there are still a variety of laws which discriminate against adoption: the Citizenship Act, for example. I know you don't have to worry about that because it's federal, but there's in fact a case that went before the Canadian Human Rights Commission recently where a woman, an expatriate Canadian who lives in Ireland, has four kids, two adopted, two by childbirth, and she went to get their passports at the high commission. They said, "Well, here are the two for the ones born to you, but we've never considered that adopted children are equal to procreated children, and those other two children do not have the rights to Canadian citizenship."

A Canadian human rights tribunal ruled that in fact that was discrimination, the law had to be changed and the tribunal adjudicator said the government did have the right -- and I think this is fair -- to ensure that the adoption was undertaken in accordance with local legislation and that it created a genuine parent-child bond. This is to make sure it's not used as just a way to get around citizenship law, and still the government is appealing that decision so it doesn't have to change the law.

I think there's also the social stigma just in the vocabulary. It attaches most strongly, I think, to the birth parents. People talk about a woman deciding to keep her child. Well, a woman gives birth to a child and she decides to parent it. I don't think we should make the assumption of an adoption. I think that's stigmatizing to women.

The idea that a child of your own is not your own child: There's a whole sort of vocabulary which very strongly communicates the idea of biological importance, and, for example, even the law. The law refers to "natural" children. I mean, what's an unnatural child? My child's an unnatural one. That I find discriminatory.

I'll just finish up here. Also, there are problems in employment legislation in terms of adoption. While mothers by childbirth were able to retain their jobs when forming families from the mid-1970s, it wasn't till 1990 that women who adopted children were in a position to be able to ensure that they could go back to the workforce. It was just not considered. If you adopted a child, you just did not have needs like you had needs if you gave birth to a child. In fact, the Employment Standards Act, which does affect you people, is still very discriminatory in this regard because non-adoptive mothers are entitled to six months off work and adoptive mothers are only entitled to 17 weeks, even though adoption agencies can require adoptive mothers to stay off the workforce for six months.

These all, to me, fit together as this idea that you have this traditional family and you have this adoptive family, and by "adoptive family" I do include the birth parents. I consider that my daughter has two real mothers. I consider that this law fits into the context of making adoption and adoptive families equal under the law.

The Chair: Thank you. Could you just wait for a second. There might be a question before you go. I think your presentation was very clear. Thank you very much for coming before us and also leaving a lot of issues that I can see we're going to have to deal with later.


The Chair: If I could then call on Frank Rioux. Mr Rioux, welcome to the committee and please go ahead with your presentation.

Mr Frank Rioux: I appreciate the invitation to be here today. It's the first time I've participated in this part of the procedure. I've been involved in election campaigns, but never before the House.

My name is Frank Rioux. I was adopted at birth in 1948 and up until five years ago I was not interested the slightest bit in searching. I've done that since and found my birth mother and had a reasonably good reunion. I also found out the heritage I promote, my French-Irish heritage, isn't exactly that of my bloodline, but close -- the Irish is there, anyhow.

I've been involved since my initial search in helping other people search as well with the adoption support group of Barrie and I'm a member of Parent Finders here. I believe adoptees need to do that when they feel the urge but I think also, in watching the hearings from last week and reading the transcripts and watching the TV from yesterday, that we've danced around the bill quite a bit in the sense that the bill really addresses a basic right that everybody else has but adoptees do not have, in the sense that we can get hold of our original birth certificate, which anybody else can get and read and have the proper parents at the bottom of that. Mind you, my real parents are my adoptive parents, but my birth parents are still of interest to me.

My original birth certificate is of interest to me because it's me; it's part of my history before I was adopted, whatever it was, the five days before my mother actually got hold of me. I think when we look at all the rights that we're trying to grant most segments of our society, whether they're minorities or visible minorities, disabled people, the gay movement, I think adoptees should have this so very basic right and I would hope that when they sell this in the House to the other members, it is sold on the basis that it is a very basic right that everybody else has.

What we're going to do with this piece of paper when we get it as an adoptee, whether we're going to search or frame it or throw it away, I think is rather irrelevant to the bill. If somebody else has a right, then I think adoptees should have the same right -- no more, no less. In terms of the no-contact laws, I think that's good also in the sense that it alerts the adoptee that somebody may not be wanting to see them if that's what they want to do, search. I'm not sure how that fits in with the rest of the family. If a birth parent indicates that they're not interested in seeing the adoptee, what happens to the birth grandparent or the birth uncles, cousins, especially siblings? I'm not sure how they would fit into the equation. Does the adoptee then think that no one in the birth family wants to see them, which is rarely the case. Mind you, it's rarely the case that the birth mother or the birth father doesn't want to see them either.

I was hoping I could tell a little story about former Justice minister, Davie Fulton. I use that example to make a lot of decisions in my life. One of the first election campaigns I worked on was Len Marchant out in Kamloops, BC. I was only 17 at the time and I just put up signs and what not. We were campaigning a fellow against a very powerful member, Davie Fulton -- I didn't know who he was, but I knew he was powerful -- and we won; I didn't expect that to be the case, but we did.


Years later, when Davie Fulton was being interviewed by Peter Gzowski, Peter Gzowski asked him, "Why were you, an anglophone from British Columbia, the Quebec lieutenant in the Diefenbaker government?" He said, "It goes back to the Second Word War when I was a colonel and I had a lieutenant colonel working for me who was a Frenchman from Quebec.

"He was the most level headed lieutenant colonel that I've ever met. You know, this even keel, nothing could razz him. So one day we got a memo in French and I calmly said to this fellow" -- we'll call him Jean-Pierre -- "`Jean-Pierre, it would be so much simpler if the allies worked in one language.'" Jean-Pierre turned to Davie Fulton and he said, "What language would that be?" Davie Fulton said, "Well, most of the allies are English, I guess English."

He said: "This lieutenant colonel went up one side of me and down the other and I stood there with my mouth open wondering: What in the devil have I said? What has angered him? It took two or three days to understand that I was using logic in this case and I had touched on this man's emotions. From that day on, I understood the Quebec issue and that's why I was the Quebec lieutenant."

Using that kind of story with that kind of logic or emotion, you can understand a lot of issues and this issue, of course, for us is very emotional. For those of you who are not involved, I dare say it's hard for you to understand, but it is an extremely emotional issue and it's very, very important to us that it goes through the House so we can get this original birth certificate. I hope it's presented to the House on a basis that it is the right thing to do, it is the same right that everybody else has and we expect these people who are called adoptees to have that right.

A scenario you could use: If two children ended up in CAS care and one was adopted out and one was put in foster care, the adoptee technically could never get, as it stands right now, the original birth certificate. Yet the foster care child, who may have been in five or six homes, can get that. Even though they're siblings, they were basically raised by other parents. Why? I'll leave it at that.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. Any questions?


The Chair: I would then call on the representatives from the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. If you would be good enough just to introduce yourselves for Hansard and members of the committee.

Ms Sandy Moschenko: I'd be happy to do that. My name is Sandy Moschenko and I'm the manager of accreditation at the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. With me is Elaine Rutherford, who's the supervisor of adoption disclosure services at the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, and Gemma Nicholson, who is Elaine's counterpart at the Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto.

Thank you for this opportunity, Mr Beer, to come and speak with you and other members of the committee. I want to say at the outset that I'm here representing the 49 member agencies of the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. We have done what we can to canvass our members and bring a collective position about the legislation. We have also been involved previously in providing input into the forming of the legislation and we are, in general, in support of any efforts to open adoption and the adoption process.

We do, however, have some comments that we would like to make today in an advisory way, and in terms of the process of moving from a system of adoption which has been secret and has ensured the privacy of adoptive parents. We have some suggestions as to how this gap might be bridged, how we can move from a set of social norms that were in existence in the 1950s and the 1960s when many women placed children for adoption, when adoption was the only real alternative for them. Having been in the practice of social work for a long time, I look back to those times and wonder what we will look back on in the 1990s in 20 years and wonder what we've missed.

One of the things we didn't know about in the 1950s and the 1960s was child sexual abuse. Many of the women who placed children for adoption in the 1950s and 1960s had much shame about the fact that they had become pregnant, and in our naïveté I think we failed to notice that some of these women may have become pregnant as a result of sexual assault. We entered into a contract with these women that would ensure their right to privacy: privacy regarding some very, very painful circumstances surrounding their pregnancy and their decision to place their child for adoption. It's this contract that I think we have to really seriously consider in looking at the implications of the legislation that you're contemplating today.

I'm not a lawyer, but I did read with interest the opinion of the privacy commissioner who I believe is sounding a cautionary note about the strength of this contract that we had with women and the implications of violating that contract, regardless of the fact that I am fully supportive of the need of people to know about their heritage and their background. That's the first observation I'd like to make.

Because of the circumstances surrounding pregnancies of these women, this is not a group of people who are going to come forward in a public way to express their opinions about this legislation. As a result, I feel that we have an obligation to speak out on their behalf, and we feel strongly that if this legislation goes forward in its present form there's an onus on the government to publicize the implications of the legislation, not only in Ontario, but across Canada so that women who might be affected as a result of the legislation have an opportunity to understand the implications and to exercise their rights as they're set out in the legislation. That would be our second recommendation: that there be a broad public education campaign embarked on in order that we can, as much as possible, include in this process the people who haven't been informed of the legislation and aren't aware how it will impact them.

We also want to talk just a little bit about the possible changes to the provision with regard to counselling. We've heard, and I've been present at some of the hearings, their really heart-warming accounts of people who have had successful reunions with members of their birth family. Both Elaine and Gemma could also tell the committee about reunions that weren't so joyous. I don't think any of them, nor I, would have imagined some of the very complicated scenarios that are opened through the process of adoption reunion and adoption disclosure.

We feel really strongly that it is the purpose of counselling or advice to help people make an informed decision about the steps they can take up to and including adoption disclosure-reunion. We're not here to frighten people but we're here to realistically inform them of some of the obstacles, some of the surprises, some of the devastation and some of the disappointments that they could encounter along the way, as well as giving them some encouragement regarding some of the joyous outcomes that can come as a result of reunion.


I hate to emphasize or appear to emphasize the negative aspect of this, but bearing in mind that many children were taken into care and placed for adoption under circumstances that were mandated as a result of the need to protect them, I think these factors need to be borne in mind in trying to anticipate some of the emotional reactions that people will encounter when they do come together. This is where counselling can help to ensure that people are making informed decisions.

I've also heard and I'm very sympathetic to the accounts people have made, of lengthy, lengthy waits in order to get the most simple information about their background. Just as an example, I have on file a letter from the Niagara children's aid society which just crossed my desk yesterday saying that they have on their waiting list 500 people who are waiting for non-identifying information in order that they can help to complete the collection of information about themselves. They have three quarters of a full-time staff position devoted to doing the job of sharing this information, and this scenario is repeated across the province from children's aid society to children's aid society and is in fact a problem within the ministry itself. There simply are not enough staff to be able to respond in a timely way to the needs of people who are looking for adoption disclosure information.

These decisions, in terms of staff allocation, have been made for very good reasons; there are financial restraints and agencies have placed the priority on the protection of children in the here and now. No one could argue that this is a priority that needs to be addressed. By the same token, having additional funds and staffing in order to be able to address the backlog of requests would, I believe, go a long way to alleviating some of the frustration and disappointment and desperation that people waiting for adoption information realistically experience.

I would like to bring to your attention one additional systemic problem that I think could be encountered as a result of the proposed amendments to the legislation. Children's aid societies over the past several years have experienced an extremely difficult working relationship with the office of the registrar general, not through a lack of trying to resolve problems, but through the fact that there is a system in place at the registrar general's office that simply is not equipped to handle the complexity of requests nor the volume of requests, and I believe the proposals in this legislation are going to exacerbate that problem to a large degree. So I urge you to take a close look at how this problem is going to be compounded, what impact requests for previously unshared information is going to have on the registrar general's office and how, as a system, they will be able to respond to those requests. I think people's expectations will be very high if this legislation passes and it would be tragic to see that there were further bureaucratic obstacles thrown in their way and impediments to them being able to get the information they will feel is now readily available for them.

The Chair: Thank you very much. Questions?

Mr Tony Martin (Sault Ste Marie): First of all, I just want to thank you for coming forward today. It's the first real challenge we've had to the bill. I know you've been here through the three days of hearings and I think it's important in the interests of democracy and this place and the process that what we do be challenged.

As you say, in some of the material that we got previously and today, I am sure there are a number of people out there who for a myriad of reasons do not feel comfortable or secure in coming forward and presenting what they see as their concerns re this bill. However, I did want to just say a couple of things and then perhaps ask for some response.

One was the issue of this contract that you speak of between a social service agency and the birth mother at the time of giving up the child. I'm aware that in many instances there was in fact some verbal contract made, but I'm assured by those in the field that there were no written contracts that secrecy or that kind of thing would be the order of the day forever and anon.

I guess the question of what weight you put on verbal contracts as opposed to written contracts -- and, again, we are dealing here with an issue of rights, and it's sensitive and it's a balancing act that we do. Certainly I'm convinced, as the member who's bringing this forward, that what we're doing here today is in fact levelling the playing field re the rights of adoptees as opposed to the rights of birth parents to for ever and ever keep their identity secret from their offspring. When I'm finished, if you want to comment on that, I would like that as well.

We have done some significant work within the two ministries to respond to your last concern around the frustration that you have experienced up to this point. Certainly that is one of the overriding reasons that we're here today, this sense of frustration, the fact that the system that we have in place now doesn't work. It doesn't give people the information that they need in a timely fashion so that they can get on with their life. It becomes rather cumbersome and costly in the end, in more ways than one.

We have done some work within the ministries involved, in view of the possibility of this legislation seeing the light of day hopefully in two days, if I have anything to do with it, so that the resources would be there to make sure that this did in fact work, that the two ministries were able to respond in a timely and effective fashion so that it doesn't create more frustration than we have at the moment and in fact reduces that experience and gives people what they need so that we will have more people walking away with the information they need to sometimes do their own searches, which is perhaps what they might choose to do so. We take a bit of the pressure off the system re the searches that would continue to need to be made.

We've also, in the amendments that we've brought forward to the bill, tried very hard to, at this juncture and given this opportunity, streamline the system so that it also isn't as complicated as it is at the moment, the back and forth between various ministries with pieces of information and trying to match things up and the different people who have responsibility for things. We've tried to make it less complicated. I think we've achieved that.

We've tried to also reflect our concern re the question of sensitivity and dealing with people in a way that is helpful as opposed to not helpful. We've put the people side of things, the contact side of things in the Ministry of Community and Social Services, which does that. That's part of what they are and why they exist, to provide services for people in the province in a timely, effective and caring manner. I'm sure in this instance that will be the same so that the other ministry which deals primarily, in our government, with the storage and dissemination of records can do that. That's the job that they do well. Hopefully, with a little relief re this exercise, they'll be able to do it even better. They will as well be given, by the government, some extra assistance to make sure that they're able to do that job if this bill should pass and move forward.

With those comments on the table, I'd now like to hear from you and perhaps have further discussion.

Ms Moschenko: I'd like to thank you, Mr Martin. I'd like to respond to your first comment about contracts. You're right, these were not legal contracts. But the practice of social work is nothing if not based on trust. This was a contract based on trust.

Our organization sponsored a one-and-a-half-day consultation last week on civil suits. I don't know if there would be grounds for a person whose privacy was violated in this way to bring suit against the agency or the ministry for having violated the contract that we would keep private their decision to place a child for adoption, but I do think that it's an issue that bears some further examination. I don't know whether my colleagues would wish to respond to that as well.


Ms Elaine Rutherford: I think the whole issue of a contract is related to the practices of the day, the general wisdom of the day. The legislation that was in place related to adoption was what guided all the practice of the time. In retrospect, we can look at it and think that was not very wise. I think we know better now. Certainly the openness we're talking about all the time is a positive thing.

The fact remains that there are women we dealt with who came to us at a very, very difficult time in their lives for assistance in planning for their child. They didn't give their children away; they made a plan as best they could given the circumstances. They didn't have choices; they didn't have the supports that women have today. It was a very different time. We made promises to those people as a society, not just as agencies but as a government with legislation and as a society.

We hear from them in our agency. We don't hear from them in great numbers, because they don't come forward and say, "Hello, I'm Mary Jones and I'm a birth mother who doesn't want to be found." We do hear from them when they have been found and they weren't willing to be found. They call the agency. They may be angry about it, they may be just very upset and needing to talk to someone. It is a real issue, not for perhaps the majority, but I would think a significant number. From our point of view, in our agency, we're concerned that they haven't had a voice in this. I don't know how you find that, given that they want to be private, but they're the ones who are going to be affected in a major way.

Mr Martin: You know of course that some of the organizations that presented here spoke of themselves as part of the triad of adoption, which includes birth mothers. They've come and spoken very encouragingly in support of this piece of legislation and in fact have worked over a number of years to get us to a point where we have this package in front of us today that has in it the no-contact veto, which experience has told us, and they claim, gives people the information they need to be satisfied in some very significant and fundamental ways that they now know some things that are helpful and are not so driven now to make that contact if in fact the mother has put on the certificate that no contact is to be made.

We're told as well that in circumstances where this cloak of secrecy is there and people are searching and hiring people and going through the process that is so difficult and long and frustrating, in the end, if that's the situation you want to set up, and if you put a complete veto on any information, including the original birth certificate, what you do is cause that person to want to go that extra mile and seek out that birth parent and in fact do what we're trying in some significant way here to have not happen out of respect for this person's right not to be contacted if she so chooses.

We've also made it not mandatory any more, but certainly we've left in place the voluntary counselling that's always been there so that if people do want some assistance in dealing with this particular circumstance or situation, it's there and they can access it and use it. Do you not think that lowers the anxiety somewhat re this group of people and goes the distance in terms of what we can do given the society we live in today and given the mores surrounding this whole area today as opposed to 15 or 20 years ago?

Ms Gemma Nicholson: I guess I'm thinking of a couple of things. First of all, I don't see this as a real challenge to the bill. I see it as saying that there's a very large percentage of people who haven't been heard from. I guess the feeling I'm getting is that you might see us as being against everybody else the past two weeks, and that's not the way it is. If everybody agrees, including these birth mothers you refer to, why hasn't this been given a lot of publicity? I just heard of it because someone kindly called me and said, "This is going to happen." I'm not reading about it. There are a lot of birth mothers who are out there who don't know about it, and you're talking about giving them one year, that from the date when this is proclaimed you've got one year.

People refer to the New South Wales study in New Zealand. I do believe they gave two years in a country of something over three million people. There are three and a half million people in Metropolitan Toronto alone. We're talking about coast to coast in Canada. We need more than one year to tell these birth mothers that, "Your name is going to be given out whether you like it or not."

I agree with everything else as far as reunions are concerned: They're healing; they're healthy. Secrecy is bad; privacy is okay. If there was a way whereby we could somehow get the word out to these women that your privacy, your secrecy, what you lived with for all these years is now going to be given to your son or daughter, whether you want it or not, then that's fine. They're going to have two years or so, and if the government commits itself to the money to publicize this, then I don't think you're going to have a lot of people opposing it. But something that has the appearance of being rushed through -- and as you said, this is the first so-called challenge you've had. Why? Why is it the only challenge? Do you know what I'm getting at?

Mr Martin: It could be that people are generally okay with it.

Ms Nicholson: That's how you would interpret it, and I agree, but we feel that there's a body of people who are not, if they knew about it -- do you know what I'm getting at? We're not against it. We're just saying, why can't you give them a little more time rather than two years and why is this going through so quickly? Why can't we just talk about it a little more before it becomes law?

The Chair: I just want to indicate to committee members that I want to make sure that people have an opportunity to raise questions and to discuss these issues, because I think this will assist us when we do come to clause-by-clause. If people are looking at the clock, we're going to take the time that we need to take to deal with this effectively. Mr Martin, if you have one more comment, then perhaps I'll pass on to some of your colleagues who would like to raise some issues as well.

Mr Martin: Just a couple of things: This is not new. From my participation in it and my reading of what's happened previously, there have been two fairly wide consultation processes that happened across the province.

Ms Nicholson: I'm aware of that, sure.

Mr Martin: People have had a chance to participate and contribute to the package that we have in front of us here today, which is a result of all of that. In no way did anybody connected with this bill want to ram it through without anybody knowing about it and without talking about it. Certainly, when we brought it forward for second reading, there was discussion in the House, there was opportunity for people to see it across the province, and if the press wanted to pick it up, it could.

I sent out, because I'm pretty proud of this piece of legislation -- I think it's a major step forward in the whole arena of rights and justice and all those kinds of things, good things that many of us in coming to Queen's Park thought we'd be involved in re the making and renewing of legislation as it affects people -- a number of press releases around it. Some of them caught and some of them didn't.

Ms Nicholson: You're right. It probably doesn't really appeal to a large percentage of the population out there, so they're not going to pick up on it.


Mr Martin: I also have had numerous letters from folks of the triad -- birth mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents -- and as I've said before, I have yet to get a negative letter on this piece of legislation, and that's been over a period now of about six months, I guess, since this was introduced. I've looked at the material that came in that was collected before then. There's no effort here to try and somehow shroud this exercise in secrecy.

I find that yes, it's very interesting that more of the challenging sort haven't come forward, and I thank you for coming today. There's nothing wrong with challenging; that's what this place is about. I hope you're not getting a negative connotation out of that from me. I'm just trying to explain to you where I'm coming from and why I'm supporting this and trying to get a handle on where you're at re your concern. Anyway, those are my comments.

Ms Nicholson: I just want to say about that too that I believe that probably 90% of birth parents, birth mothers -- birth fathers, unfortunately, don't even know a lot of the times that they did father a child. But the birth mothers, if they knew this legislation was going through, if they had access to counselling, a lot of these women can be made to see that it is a healing thing for them to meet or know about the child they placed. It's just that if an adult adoptee can request and receive that maiden name, that place of birth, do the search on their own and knock on the door, some very good reunions can go off the rails if it happens that way. Probably Elaine and I may have, unfortunately, a little more negative aspect there because it's the people who have the contentious reunions who come to us, it's the people who are having a lot of problems around them.

Because we are such a large country, the feeling of this going through in one year -- it just seems too quick. If it was two years even -- get the word out that it's going to happen, and then if they want to feed in, they have the opportunity. You as politicians, we as social workers, we did our bit. We spoke for them. You know what I mean?

Mr Dalton McGuinty (Ottawa South): Thank you very much for coming today. We have heard from a number of presenters who have spoken very much in favour of the bill, and I have felt in my own heart of hearts that there's been something lacking here, and for that reason in particular I'm glad that you are here.

First of all, I've said this to Tony off the record and I want to say it on the record: He's to be congratulated for his good work and his courage in attempting to address this issue in a very substantive way.

It's my understanding that this bill goes further than any other province in terms of enabling an adoptee to obtain birth particulars without the consent of the birth parent. It's my understanding as well that in New South Wales they have an additional -- I'm not sure how much of a precautionary measure it is, but it says to an adoptee, "We're about to release information to you, but before we give that to you, you are going to sign a formal, legal undertaking that you are not to contact these people if they signed a no-contact order." In New Zealand it's my understanding that if you don't want to be contacted by an adoptee, the veto that you file prevents the state from providing any kind of identifying information to the adoptee whatsoever.

In that context, this bill goes quite far in terms of establishing a right for an adoptee at the expense of a birth parent's right. In fact, the Information and Privacy Commissioner says -- he doesn't mince any words about it -- on page 2 of his letter to us, "In other words, under the bill adoptees' rights outweigh birth parents' privacy rights in all cases, without exception."

I think that we have a very special obligation to birth parents who are operating on the understanding that they are to remain unknown to a child that they may have given up, under whatever circumstances.

You have experience in this matter; I don't. But I've heard from many of the adoptees who have come forward and made some very powerful and compelling presentations. One of the things I would conclude, in a very inexpert way, is that the drive to know can be very powerful, can be very primal. It can be overwhelming. It can be consuming.

So there was at least one presenter -- we haven't had that many but there's at least one -- said that she would ignore a no-contact order. The analogy I use is that you take somebody through the desert for three days without water and then put a glass in front of them and say, "Now you can't drink it." What is the practical effect of registering a no-contact notice to an adoptee who has sought for so long, for all the right reasons, to determine where he or she came from and who his or her parents are? Are we setting ourselves up for a fall?

Ms Rutherford: If I could try and address that, I couldn't begin to guess about that. I would agree with a lot of the presenters that the majority of people would respect a no-contact veto. Unfortunately, there would be some people who wouldn't. We all know that. I think many of the people we deal with suffer from mental illness, disturbance. It's a cross-section of the population, as adoptive parents are, as birth parents are. So you can't totally predict that.

One of the struggles that I have -- and I do have a struggle with this. I am an adoptive parent, I must confess to that, and what my adult sons need and want is very, very important to me. So trying to sort this out in my own head has been difficult. As I understand it, the amendments to this legislation wouldn't formally recognize the birth parents having any rights. That may be an oversimplification, but that's the way it looked to me. They would have to actively seek proactive protection of their rights.

The comparison is made frequently to adoptive parents and adoptive families being different, and I agree that we shouldn't be, but -- I've lost my train of thought. It must have been important, but I've lost it.

Mr McGuinty: What if we were to change the presumption in the bill? Right now the presumption is you want to be contacted, and if you don't do something, you could be contacted.

We have a letter from the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex. One of the things they describe is how there are a number of people today who are still unaware that there is an adoption disclosure registry, notwithstanding that this has been around for quite some time.

My concern would be that there would be a number of people who would not be made aware of the new law and the new reverse onus. If you haven't done something, you are deemed to be open to contact. That's a positive-onus provision which is very unusual in law. There are many people who don't read the paper and, for whatever reason, will not be reached.


What about if we did something that the Information and Privacy Commissioner suggested, we change it so it says that the presumption would be you don't want to be contacted, and if you want to be contacted register a contact notice?

Ms Evelyn Gigantes (Ottawa Centre): What's different than what we have now?

Mr McGuinty: No, because they will have the birth particulars; they will have the birth particulars in both instances. The only difference is, if you want to be contacted there will be an obligation on you to register that.

Ms Rutherford: You mean the birth registration would be available to the adoptee with the understanding that they could go no further than that unless the birth parent registered for contact?

Mr McGuinty: No. What I'm trying to say is -- maybe you said it right there -- that under this bill right now there's a presumption in favour of you being contacted. If you do nothing you're deemed to be receptive to contact. What if we change it and make the presumption in favour of no contact so that if you want to be contacted you have to do something, you have to register.

Ms Rutherford: I think that's what the present register was intended to do. Some of it is lack of enough publicity to tell society about the register, but some of it is that some of the birth parents that we're referring to here who are traumatized by the idea of being found, rightly or wrongly, they avert their eyes from anything to do with adoption or reunion; they hide from it, they pray it's not going to happen to them. It's very difficult.

Mr McGuinty: Does anybody else want to comment on that question?

Ms Nicholson: The only thought that I had on that was, what birth mother is going to charge her son or daughter $5,000? Very, very few, if any, even those who perhaps didn't want to be found, because what it comes down to is the whole emotion around being found. In 24 years of doing disclosure I can't think of a birth mother who would have charged her son or daughter for finding her. So that's another aspect of it.

The Chair: If you have one more question, Mr McGuinty, but we need to move on.

Mr McGuinty: I think that those are all my questions. I know this is a difficult subject and, as I said at the outset, I'm not an expert, but there are some questions that we have to ask, and because we ask them doesn't mean we're against adoptees or we're for birth parents. I think it's because we want to act in the broader public interest. I say that particularly to people who are sitting in the audience.

Mr Cameron Jackson (Burlington South): I think the reason we need and are taking the necessary time is because you present yourself to this committee in a very unique position. It would be an oversimplification to refer to you as sort of the "gatekeepers" of the adoption procedure in this province, but in a way that's essentially the role you fulfil. You arrive as the very last deputant after several comments which have cast some of your past activities in a very negative light.

I am currently going through a very, very bad experience for one of my very young constituents who's dying of a disease and we're needing to get family information. I don't think it would be fair for me to raise that, but I come to this committee with some very legitimate concerns about how children's aid societies have acted in some instances, albeit by and large the activities are very challenging.

I want to share with you the fact that children's aid societies are in a very difficult position in this province. You're charged under the law to protect the rights of children in this province who really don't have rights. I'm sorry I have to say that, but my 20 years in children's services have taught me that we really don't have laws to protect children. It strikes me, though, that if we look at an adoptee not as an adoptee but as simply a child in our society who needs rights, something magical happens at the time they turn 16 or 18, depending upon the issue: They move into receiving a whole series of rights as adults that they deserve and have earned if they've survived childhood. But in this one exception, it's one of the few exceptions, over and above institutionalization for reasons of capacity, and clearly that's not the case here, we find ourselves saying to a whole body of citizens, "You continue to retain the amount of trust, love and respect society gave you as a child," which isn't very much, unfortunately, in terms of legal protections.

So I really am having a hard time, because I don't think it's fair to be critical of the children's aid societies. I think it's fair that it's really important that they attempt to understand the notion of a child's right once they move into adulthood. I will get the name wrong so I won't even attempt it, but at the very opening of these hearings a staff member from the ministry in presentation hit the point, I thought, squarely on the head: This legislation is about shifting the paradigm ever so slightly in favour of the adoptee as a citizen in our society.

That's a painful exercise for politicians, who are professionals at sitting on the fence. The reason legislation is the way it is today is because politicians do what politicians do best: They won't make a tough decision about shifting that paradigm of rights.

I'm prepared to support this bill for the reasons that I've indicated. I'm very encouraged that we have this opportunity to do it. To the point that you've raised, I had hoped that the government would have clarion-called this bill so that we could have had more exposure to it, but it didn't happen. But we at least have a member who has brought it forward and it's before us now.

I want to try and receive from you, and I read your brief, how it is that we can get the children's aid societies to react in a more positive way about how the bill will be shifted. Because I think it's going to pass, I believe it will pass, but you're still the gatekeepers of the system and you're the most critical gatekeepers with information that children need today about their medical records. That may be more or less of a pressing problem if that person is now 40 or 50 years of age, but I know the case that I'm currently working on; it's a life-and-death issue, and the information in the records was not consistent. A match had to be made to save the child's life, and the match uncovered all sorts of information. It was not handled properly.

If there were those forms of abuse -- and I don't want to use "abuse" in that legal sense, but you understand what I'm saying -- over those years in those records, do we not owe them the concept of an attempt at a match in order to give them the same rights I have as an adult in my society? That's really all I'm asking the children's aid societies to do.

Can I get your reaction to that, please?

Ms Moschenko: I'd like to respond to that. Mr Jackson, I think there are some provisions in the current legislation with regard to medical needs and medical information that go beyond the routine. They may not be adequate, but there are provisions in the legislation currently.

I don't deny that adult adoptees have the right to have this information and I feel they're entitled to having it. All we're proposing is that the process of including the silent partner in this triangle be considered.

I would, however, like to comment on a present-day adoption practice and some really serious obstacles that continue to exist in the legislation that prevent children's aid societies from doing some of the things that you're mentioning. Probably the largest is that under the Child and Family Services Act a child who is a crown ward and who has a court order allowing access to his or her natural parents or other members of his or her family cannot be placed for adoption. This often works against the ability of the society to make long-term plans for a child, and this is a piece of the legislation that I think urgently needs some attention, in order that in 20 years we're not sitting here again talking about similar violations of the rights of adoptees.


I know that people working in the adoption field would like to have what's referred to as the option of arranging open adoptions, but unless legislation is changed, it prevents us from exercising this option to its fullest and in the best interests of these children.

Mr Jackson: In the interests of time, I'll yield, but I do appreciate you being here and had hoped that we'd have had a little more time to get into some of these issues. Thank you.

The Chair: Ms Gigantes and Mr Eddy, and that will conclude this part.

Ms Gigantes: I have a confession for you. I've certainly told the committee before but I also have an adopted child, now 27, so I do have a special kind of interest in the subject area too, and I think that Ms Marcus earlier referred to much of the issues that we deal with in this question as women's issues. She also indicated, if I heard correctly, that a lot of the adopted people who look for information about birth parents are female. Is that your experience?

Ms Moschenko: That's right. Twice as many.

Ms Gigantes: Twice as many?

Ms Moschenko: Yes.

Ms Gigantes: I've never heard that before, so that's kind of interesting. I really do think it's a women's issue, and the debate that I was familiar with back in the late 1970s around increasing the amount of possibility for adopted people to find birth parents through the registry and so on has shifted. Originally it was the protection of the adopting family that was the huge issue around this Legislature, and we had very stirring debates on that subject here in the late 1970s.

Now I think we've come down to a different point in it all. It kind of makes you wonder about the degree of delicacy around all this stuff. It doesn't matter which way you turn; we're always going to find somebody who presents some reason why people shouldn't know, it seems to me, but it's now the birth mother, and I have a great deal of sympathy with that because I think that your description earlier of the social setting in which adoptions took place as late as 15 years ago was one in which there was still so much stigma and so much sense of secrecy and hiddenness and shame and all that jazz, that for a lot of the women who might now feel vulnerable on the revelation of certificates of live birth, it would feel as if the world had shifted from under them.

I know that there are such women, and I agree with you that they are not the witnesses before us, though they exist. None of us really knows how many they would be, and I think we have to make a choice, and my choice would be to support moving ahead. I wish there were a way, and I'm sure you wish there were a way, and I'm sure we all wish there were a way that somehow a woman who has given up a child 20 years ago or 25 years ago -- I use the old phraseology "giving up the child" -- who gave birth to a child who was subsequently adopted, could be forewarned, and our system just doesn't permit that. Our recordkeeping doesn't permit it. Our institutional apparatus doesn't permit it. We can't do that. We can't accomplish that. If we could, I think we'd all choose to do that.

So we have to make a choice, and I think that at this stage the choice, not only because of the need of people who've been adopted to search for their own history and a sense of their own blood relations, but also because in doing that, we change the atmosphere in which adoption occurs in this society. We take another layer of secrecy off it, which I think is an important thing to be doing, and I think we encourage the setting up of systems that in the future can be more sensitive.

I think you've really raised the issues in quite a telling way. I think one of the things perhaps people who haven't been in a family which has been touched by adoption might not recognize is the fear that exists among people who've been adopted about finding out the truth: "What is my birth mother really like?" The worst possibilities are there in the mind. The worst fears are there.

I think, given that truth -- and that's always going to be true -- nobody who's been adopted is going to have rose-coloured glasses about the possibilities. If you're going to go to the soul-searching effort to look for a birth parent, you're going to realize all the possibilities that you can hit, and you can imagine some pretty fearful ones, and I think a no-contact provision would be respected for that reason. The problem is the cases where the mother who's given birth doesn't know to put the no-contact notice forward. I wish I could think of a way around that.

I don't know that two years would make a mighty difference. I don't know that an extra year would make a mighty difference. I can tell you that people are aware of what's happening, that birth mothers out there are aware, because strangers have contacted me. So they are aware. The word does get around. I'm sure that there are cases where people are afraid to even look at a notice in the paper, but the word does get around.

Ms Moschenko: I would just say that even the most effective public education campaign won't touch everyone and that whatever efforts we do to announce these changes need to be done in a way that tries to think of how we can reach out to those people who are most isolated and least likely to know about this, and offer them some support.

The Chair: Final question, Mr Eddy.

Mr Ron Eddy (Brant-Haldimand): Thank you for coming forward, because it's very important that you be here and give your views. I thank you so much for saying that you are in favour of the bill. You've said that more than once and that's very important, because your role is very crucial. You're seen as the gatekeeper, the firing line, the stumbling block by many people who want to be reunited and to have the information that they should have been entitled to and that should have been tagged to them at the time of adoption, if I can use a nasty term like that, but I feel very strongly.

You've been criticized; you are criticized. I can speak this way as a former CAS board member for many years and the concerns I had in that role. But we've been told that adoption files have been thrown out, destroyed; that misinformation and lies have been given to people. You've confirmed that not only are there long waiting lists of people wanting birth information but there are long lists of people who want non-identifying information and can't get it.

What a distressful, terrible situation. It shouldn't be. I know why you can't do that. You don't have the money. I don't know why we can't look at a volunteer system and something couldn't be done in this regard to give it. It's so distressing. It shouldn't be happening in our society, but it is happening and I know the concerns and the budget restraints that CASs operate under. You have to decide to do the most important work first or at the time it's needed.


So I understand your situation in many ways, but there is such a great need. One of the things that I see about birth parents, and indeed adoptees, is that perhaps you become more tolerant as you go through life and many people are more willing to face the facts. That's why reunions are possible and do happen. It's living with a situation for years and you change your attitude towards it.

You mentioned about unhappy reunions, but I don't think adoptees are looking for happy reunions. It's nice if it's a happy reunion; maybe it's unhappy. It's the important point of knowing the facts and knowing who the hell you really are and your heritage. That is so important in life. I speak that way because I am adopted.

The Chair: I would like, in thanking you for coming before the committee, to just note that we realized in going through these hearings that there would be perhaps some concerns that would not be expressed because of the nature of the issue and perhaps those who wouldn't come forward, and prior to our session with you we had agreed that we would try to ensure that we could explore the concerns that were expressed and allow members to ask questions. I just want to say that on the record because we have taken a longer period of time, but we thank you for coming before the committee today.

Ms Moschenko: Thank you for the opportunity to explore this complex area so thoroughly. I appreciate it.

Mr Randy R. Hope (Chatham-Kent): Before we move into proceedings and dealing with the amendments and that, it seems like the main issue is notification to the broader public. When the House is not sitting, nor is the committee sitting, the legislative channel presents a picture of the Legislature. I'm wondering if it would be possible that, instead of showing a picture of the Legislature, we start to identify an important piece of legislation which is non-partisan, which is for information of the general public to know as knowledge.

It's important that these proceedings be repeated a number of times through the winter or through the intersessions while committees are not sitting, while the television is not being used, or that a communication strategy be developed. You as well as I do that the best word of mouth usually helps the flow of information. Neither newspapers nor TV help, but word of mouth does.

I think it's our role as a committee, as we heard presented to us in this committee both the rights of the adoptee to know and the birth parents to know their rights -- it is our obligation, whether it be through reruns of this committee on a continuous basis or a presentation to the Speaker asking the Speaker for consideration, which I know would be unprecedented, allowing this bill particularly to be communicated to the broader public.

The Chair: I think you make a very valid point and perhaps what we might do is reflect on that as we go through the clause-by-clause. It would certainly be quite in order, if the committee so desired, to ask me on the committee's behalf to write to the Speaker. I know that this issue about using that channel to convey critical information is one that a number of us have thought about. I think often we see that channel sort of sitting there and that there could be better uses.

So I wonder if we could sort of say to people, let's think about that as we go through. Then before we adjourn, let's come back to that and, if it's the desire of the committee, I could then on everyone's behalf send a letter requesting that it at least be looked into.

Ms Gigantes: I was going to suggest, it just struck me while Randy was talking, that in fact if the groups that are interested in this legislative change exist across the country, which they appear almost to do, they might be interested in having access to tapes of this discussion. They could have cable television run in other provinces, which would provide a free method of advertising in other parts of Canada about the changes that were happening here in Ontario.

Mrs Yvonne O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau): I think it's very serious that we do make an intent and a request. There are several of the groups that have presented -- certainly the Adoption Council of Ontario and, I presume, their parent body in Canada -- that would be very willing to cooperate.

I feel so strongly about the knowledge being up to date that I actually think we should request that funding be directed, which is a recommendation the CAS made. I know that's not within this committee's purview, but we should have a video, we should have everything that can go with this. We don't have that now. We have, what should I say, brochures and a few things, but I haven't seen one thing on TV about adoption from this government. I might have missed it, but I don't think it's there.

I think whatever strength you can put into a letter about getting cooperation from all of the major players and cooperation in the form of a real commitment by the government -- I'd be very happy to help formulate such a letter.

The Chair: Okay. I think we can come back to that. If there is a need to draft a letter and get the subcommittee to approve it, even tomorrow morning, just to make sure that it says what we want to have it say, we can do that. I wonder if we shouldn't go on to the clause-by-clause and then come back to that at the end.

Ms Gigantes: Yvonne did miss it, apparently.

The Chair: Okay. Has everyone got their document in order? We'll just pause for the legislative counsel.

The first amendment is the government amendment, and, Mr Martin, if you would like any or all of the officials to be at the desk, if that would perhaps facilitate if there are any questions, we could perhaps do that.

Mr Martin: Yes, I could.

The Chair: Could I invite the government officials perhaps just to sit at the table and that would just, if there are any questions, make it easier.

Mr Martin, do you want to move the first amendment?

Mr Martin: I move that subsections 28(6) and (7) of the Vital Statistics Act, as set out in section 1 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:


"(6) Despite anything else in this act, a person whose birth was registered in Ontario and in respect of whom an adoption order was registered under subsection (1) or a predecessor of that subsection is entitled, on application and payment of the prescribed fee, to obtain a copy of the original birth registration from the registrar general.


"(7) Subsection (6) applies only if the person is 18 years of age or older and produces evidence of identity that is satisfactory to the registrar general.

"Notice, birth parent's wish not to be contacted

"(8) If a birth parent has filed a notice that has become effective under section 165.1 of the Child and Family Services Act, the registrar general shall give the notice, or the information contained in it, to the adopted person together with the copy of the original birth registration."


The Chair: Any discussion on that, Mr Martin?

Mr Martin: Most of this is a package that streamlines the system. If there's anything particularly technical that you want re that one little piece, I'm sure the staff are willing to present it. But at this point, unless there's a question --

The Chair: If there's a need for that; not that I don't want people to speak, but if people are comfortable with that amendment, we don't necessarily need to --

Mr Martin: Explain it.

The Chair: -- go through it. But I'm in your hands. Is there some particular point that ought to be -- no? Okay. Then I'll ask if this amendment shall carry.

Mr Hope: On a point of order, Mr Chair: Just looking at the Liberal motion, is this an amendment to the government motion?

Ms Gigantes: No, it comes after.

Mr Hope: It's amending it, so you'd have to deal with this amendment first, prior to dealing with the government motion that's being put forward.

The Chair: Ms O'Neill, before we place that, do you want to place your amendment?

Mrs O'Neill: I'd be glad to do that, if this is the proper time.

The Chair: Yes, it is. We'll discuss that and vote on that, and then we'll vote on the main motion.

Mrs O'Neill: I move that Mr Martin's motion replacing section 1 of the bill be amended --

Ms Gigantes: I'm failing to follow this process. Mr Martin's motion deals with 28(6), (7) and (8), and Ms O'Neill is proposing to add a 28(9). How can you add a 28(9) before you have a 28(6), (7) and (8) established?

The Chair: My understanding is that this adds on and is therefore an amendment and so has to be dealt with first, and then we move to the main motion. It's just that this will form part of 28. We are making an amendment to 28 and so we would deal with this amendment to the government motion.

Ms Gigantes: It doesn't make any difference, I guess.

The Chair: I don't believe that in that sense it does. Sorry, Ms O'Neill, would you --

Mrs O'Neill: Okay. I'm not used to amendments that identify members of the committee, but this is the way legislative counsel prepared this for me, so I'm reading it in. I don't remember ever reading in an amendment that indicated -- but anyway. It isn't a government motion, I guess, so that's the problem.

The Chair: It's a slightly different situation.

Mrs O'Neill: I move that Mr Martin's motion replacing section 1 of the bill be amended by adding the following as subsection 28(9) of the Vital Statistics Act:

"Reasons and medical information

"(9) The registrar general shall also give the adopted person any information provided by the birth parent under subsections 165.1(3) and (3.1) of the Child and Family Services Act and disclose to the registrar general together with the notice; if no such information was disclosed, the registrar general shall advise the adopted person of that fact."

I speak to that because it does seem that it would be a very convenient place to gather information, particularly health information, and there were quite a few presenters who talked about that. There were quite a few presenters also who felt that there would be, what should I say, help if they had the reasons, so if the question was asked again now and it was actually part of the process as a matter of course, then I think there may be people who would place the reason and I do think most people would place any relevant health information and both of those things would add to the finding of the adoptee even if there is a request for no contact.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Ron Eddy): Thank you. Any discussion?

Ms Gigantes: Could I ask what the implication of that would be?

The Vice-Chair: Yes, would you go ahead and respond, please.

Ms Joan Belford: We don't have a problem with it from a policy point of view. I think that a number of deputants have raised the issue and it would not be a problem for us to ask people to put that information on. It would be a problem for us if it was required and if we were somehow to have to track it down and prove that it was accurate and do various kinds of logistics like that. I don't think there's any problem for us in designing the notice application so that we can collect the information.

The Vice-Chair: That's fine.

Mr Hope: Just with that, I'm sorry, I was not paying attention. It's the first time I've seen these amendments, but I don't want to prolong the bill. I want the bill to proceed. You said there might be a problem in identifying whether the medical information is factual? Help me with this on your comments. Could you repeat yourself?

The Vice-Chair: Yes, I think you clarified it; it's not the way Mr Hope is saying, so would you repeat that explanation? It was the point that you don't have a problem with it because it's not required. It's optional rather than mandatory.

Ms Belford: Yes, the motion put forward is optional and that would be fine with us. We can design the application in such a way that it will collect any information that the birth parent is willing to give. We would have a problem if it was required because we then probably would have to try to track it down or get people to give it when they were reluctant, and we wouldn't know whether it was being given under protest and therefore wasn't accurate, that kind of problem.

The Vice-Chair: Anyone else? All in favour of Ms O'Neill's amendment to Mr Martin's amendment? Carried.

Anyone wish to speak to Mr Martin's motion, as amended? No questions? All in favour? Carried.

Shall section 1 carry as amended? Carried.

Section 2.

Mr Martin: I move that section 2 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"2. Section 29 of the act is repealed and the following substituted:

"Disclosure to registrar of adoption information

"29. The registrar general may disclose personal information to the registrar of adoption information for the purposes of part VII of the Child and Family Services Act.

"Unsealing file

"29.1 The registrar general may, for the purposes of subsection 28(6) and section 29 and for such administrative purposes as he or she considers appropriate, unseal any file that was sealed under this act or a predecessor of this act."

The Vice-Chair: Any explanation? Any questions? No questions. All in favour? No opposition. Carried.

Shall section 2 carry as amended? All in favour? Opposed? Carried.

Section 3.

Mr Martin: It is recommended that the members vote against section 3 of the bill.

The Vice-Chair: Any questions?

Mr Martin: Now that we're changing this, this is no longer relevant.

The Vice-Chair: You've been asked to vote against section 3. All in favour of section 3? Opposed? Section 3 is lost.

Mr Martin: It is recommended that the members vote against section 4 of the bill. Same reason.

The Vice-Chair: It is recommended you vote against section 4. All in favour of section 4? Opposed? Lost.

Mr Martin: It's recommended that the members vote against section 5 of the bill. Same reason.


The Vice-Chair: It is recommended that you vote against section 5. Did you have a question, Mrs O'Neill?

Mrs O'Neill: I just wanted to ask -- this is such a different way of doing things -- are all of those sections now incorporated? Is that what we're really being told?

Mr Martin: Yes.

Mrs O'Neill: They're all being incorporated in other sections. So the bill is literally going to have fewer sections.

Mr Martin: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: All in favour of section 5? Opposed? Section 5 is lost.

Mr Jackson: It's refreshing to see a government motion framed this way and seeing them all vote that way.

The Vice-Chair: Section 6.

Mr Martin: I move that section 6 of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:

"6. Clause 60(u) of the act is repealed."

The Vice-Chair: Any questions? All in favour of Mr Martin's motion? Opposed? Carried.

Shall section 6, as amended, carry? Carried.

Section 7.

Mr Martin: I move that clause 163(2)(b) of the Child and Family Services Act, as set out in section 7 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

"(b) ensure that counselling is made available to persons,

"(i) who receive identifying or non-identifying information from the registrar,

"(ii) who are or may wish to be named in the register,

"(iii) who are concerned that they may be affected by the disclosure of identifying information, including the disclosure of information under subsection 28(6) of the Vital Statistics Act, or

"(iv) who receive information under subsection 28(8) of the Vital Statistics Act;

"(c) receive and deal with notices and withdrawals of notices filed under section 165.1."

The Vice-Chair: Discussion?

Mr Hope: Could I just ask legislative counsel this question: With this amendment being put forward, specifically with subsections 28(6) and 28(8), would 28(9) be appropriate for this section or is it relevant to be there as far as counselling services being available?

Ms Cornelia Schuh: I don't think it's necessary to mention (9), because people will not be receiving information under (9) independently, only along with the copy of the no-contact notice they could receive under (8). So no, I don't think it's necessary to refer to 28(9) here in this counselling material.

Mr Hope: Even though it may deal with medical information? I'm asking really a legal question. We don't want to exclude somebody who's received medical information and may need counselling. I want to make sure that we're covered properly.

Ms Schuh: I think you are covered, because the person who gets information under (9) will always have received information under (8). You can't get information under (9) without getting it under (8).

Mr Hope: Okay. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: Anyone else? Shall Mr Martin's motion amending section 7 carry? Carried.

Shall section 7, as amended, carry? Carried.

Section 8.

Mr Martin: I move that clause 165(2)(j) of the Child and Family Services Act, as set out in section 8 of the bill, be struck out and the following substituted:

"(j) the disclosure of information for the purposes of section 165.1;

"(k) the disclosure of information for the purposes of prosecutions under section 176.1."

The Vice-Chair: Shall Mr Martin's motion amending section 8 carry? Carried.

Shall section 8, as amended, carry? Carried.

Mr Martin, do you have a further amendment?

Mr Martin: Is there a Liberal motion here at this point?

The Vice-Chair: Yes, there is. The next one, I believe. It amends yours, so would you proceed with yours first.

Mr Martin: I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:

"8.1 The act is amended by adding the following section:



"165.1(1) In this section, `birth parent' means a person whose name appears on an original birth registration as parent.

"Notice, birth parent's wish not to be contacted

"(2) A birth parent who wishes not to be contacted by the person named as his or her child in the original birth registration may file written notice of the wish with the registrar.

"Disclosure to registrar general

"(3) The registrar shall disclose the notice or the information contained in it, together with any other information provided by the birth parent, to the registrar general under the Vital Statistics Act.

"Non-application of subsections 2(2) to (4) of Vital Statistics Act

"(4) Subsections 2(2) to (4) of the Vital Statistics Act do not apply to anything disclosed under subsection (3).

"Effective notice

"(5) The notice becomes effective for the purposes of subsection 28(8) of the Vital Statistics Act when the registrar general has matched it with the original birth registration and completed the match.

"Ineffective notice

"(6) The notice does not become effective if, before the notice is matched with the original birth registration, the registrar general has already issued a copy of the original birth registration under subsection 28(6) of the Vital Statistics Act.

"Communication re outcome

"(7) When a notice becomes effective, or when the registrar general becomes aware that it is ineffective, he or she shall advise the registrar of the fact.

"Withdrawal of notice

"(8) A birth parent who files a notice under subsection (2) may withdraw it at any time, in writing.

"Effect of withdrawal

"(9) A birth parent who has withdrawn a notice under subsection (8) is not entitled to file a further notice under subsection (2) in respect of the same original birth registration.


"(10) For purposes of subsection 165(5), a notice or withdrawal of a notice under this section and the information it contains, and all other information dealt with under this section or generated in connection with its administration, constitute information relating to an adoption.


"(11) The registrar may provide for and require the use of forms under this section."

The Chair: Thank you. There is an amendment to the government motion, so we will deal first with that amendment and then come back to the main motion.

Mrs O'Neill: Before I begin with the amendment, and these amendments have just changed the bill so much in its format, is this the section we're dealing with that has something to say about the one-year wait?

Mr Martin: No.

Mrs O'Neill: It's another section? Thank you. I'm just trying to clarify some of this in my mind.


I move that Mr Martin's motion adding section 8.1 to the bill be amended by striking out subsection 165.1(3) of the Child and Family Services Act and substituting the following:


"(3) If possible, the birth parent shall provide, together with the notice, a written statement of his or her reasons for not wishing to be contacted.

"Medical information

"(3.1) If possible, the birth parent shall provide, together with the notice, a written statement that briefly summarizes any information he or she may have about,

"(a) any genetic conditions that he or she has, and any past and present serious illnesses;

"(b) any genetic conditions and past and present serious illnesses of his or her own parents, of the other birth parent (or of the other biological parent, if only one person's name appears on the original birth registration as parent) and of his or her parents; and

"(c) the cause of death and age of death of any of the persons named in clause (b) who are no longer alive.

"Disclosure to registrar general

"(3.2) The registrar shall disclose the notice or the information contained in it, together with any other information provided by the birth parent under subsection (3) or (3.1), to the registrar general under the Vital Statistics Act."

This ties directly with the amendment I brought and the committee accepted earlier. The legislative counsel, if any are questioning, has presented me -- and I don't know whether all members have -- the reason to have to place "birth parent" or "biological parent," and that of course really directly relates to a father who may or may not be named.

The Chair: Any discussion of Ms O'Neill's amendment?

Mr Martin: I'd just like the ministry folks to comment on it and share with us any concern they might have.

Ms Belford: I will ask my colleague John Calcott to comment on the wording of the amendment from a policy point of view. I don't have any problem with the intention that is generated here. There are a couple of things that appear to me to be administratively difficult. One is determining if something is possible or not possible. It might be better to just be permissive, "The birth parent may provide."

However, on the information that is requested here, what I generally find is that when we name very specific information, we sometimes limit other information that may be provided that would be useful and it may also be information -- it does say, "If possible, the birth parent shall provide" it, but a lot of this may be information that they don't know.

I think we could handle this by designing the form with certain questions on it, prompts on it that would ask them to provide any medical information that might be useful to the adoptee. One of the things that some of the people asked for in the presentations was information about who they might look like or what their physical characteristics were, so there's an infinite variety of things that could be named here.

We're certainly willing to pass on anything that the birth parent is willing to share, and from a policy point of view we have no problem in doing that. We're willing to deal with anything that the committee decides is relevant. I just would warn against limiting what might be here.

The Chair: If you can hold on to that thought, Ms Gigantes had a point and then we'll come back and look at --

Ms Gigantes: I was going to ask Ms Schuh if our adoption of the first Liberal amendment does not give legislative authority for the setting of regulations about the form that will be used when a birth parent files a no-contact notice. In other words, having adopted --

Ms Schuh: Not exactly. Mr Martin's amendment that's before the committee, adding section 165.1, provides in its last subsection that, "The registrar may provide for and require the use of forms...." Those would not be made by regulation. Those would be made administratively and could be changed more easily.

Ms Gigantes: Maybe I haven't asked my question right. Let me try again.

We've adopted the earlier motion put forward by Ms O'Neill which says that the registrar shall give to the inquiring person, the adopted person, any information that was filed under the Child and Family Services Act together with the notice. So that presumes a notice, it presumes that there is information on some kind of form, it presumes that there is a form available on which to provide the attached information, which would be medical information. Would that not give authority to make a regulation authorizing the creation of a form to elicit medical information without specifying what kind of medical information?

Ms Schuh: No, I don't think it would. I think if you wanted authority to do that by regulation, you would have to have specific words to that effect in the statute.

Ms Gigantes: Then can we amend the amendment which has been put forward by Ms O'Neill so that we're not specifying too closely exactly what should be requested, but at the same time authorizing the creation of a form of the nature that we've just had described to us?

Mrs O'Neill: May I speak? I discussed this quite extensively with legislative counsel because in the beginning there was -- what should I say? -- a presentation that talked about personal health. I didn't think that I wanted to put that onus on any birth parent to talk about their personal health at the present time.

What I really want to do is be very specific with what I thought I had heard from the presentations, genetic illness, and if I may use a very personal example, both my grandparents, both my grandmothers, died with diabetes. That now is something people check medically with me all the time. My mother and her sister both died with heart attacks. That's the kind of thing.

I know it would be nice to know whether your mother had brown eyes or not. I don't think that's important. Those are nice to know. These to me are things like people were suggesting yesterday. When you go to apply for extended medical coverage or you go to apply for an insurance policy, you can't fill in any of these. Even with your own family doctor, you can't talk about serious illnesses in your family. I felt the genetic is one thing and serious illness is another thing, and that's the reason I put those two.

It was legislative counsel's wish, and maybe my own personal experience led me to be very accepting of it, to go beyond to the next generation, to the grandparents, because in many cases that's also very relevant. Some of these diseases skip a generation.

I'm not tied to (c), which is the cause of death, but again it could be quite relevant. If again I use my example of sudden death by heart attack, then you need to kind of know that. That's my intention.

The Chair: May I, with the intention of trying to help us through this, because I sense that both Ms Gigantes's comment and also from the ministry were intended to be helpful in dealing with this --

Ms Gigantes: Helpful. That's right.

The Chair: As the Chair, we cannot have an amendment to the amendment to the main amendment. However, we could still step back and seek an amendment that we're all comfortable with. In order to do that, we can either just have a brief recess to try to sort that out and it would then require Ms O'Neill withdrawing her amendment so we could bring in a new amendment that we agreed with, or we could stand this down and proceed with other parts of the bill and come back. We can continue the discussion, but at some point, in terms of making any change, I can't accept an amendment to the amendment to the amendment directly.


Mrs O'Neill: Could we get the ministry officials to reiterate what -- you say it could be limiting. Anything can be limiting, and that's partly what this legislation is about, I suppose, is limiting, especially if we're talking about non-contact parents.

As I say, there's a group of stuff that's nice to know. This I think is important to know if it's at all possible. This act is going to be administered by several different people in the next, whatever, 40, 50 years. I thought it would be nice for them to know the kinds of questions that the presenters in 1994 brought to us as real problems for them.

The Chair: Just before I got to the ministry officials, Mr Hope and Ms Gigantes. That way, we can get everything on to the table.

Mr Hope: I was trying to be specific in the legislation. I guess my concern is that science changes and health changes; so does the information provided. I was listening to the people from the ministry dealing with it's not a problem to administer. There could be some legal questions.

I'm wondering if it was just referred to as per the disclosure to the registrar general, that something be as prescribed by regulation, which allows us then to move on and so that we're not coming back 10 years from now and saying, "Okay, we've discovered a new disease" or "Something else has come up" or "Modern medicine has discovered something," but instead of dealing with the amendment that Mrs O'Neill has put forward to Mr Martin's motion, that we just put an amendment forward dealing with disclosure to the registrar general, a content of regulation, which allows us the drafting of a document which can be changed but can be current to the information required at times.

I approached this on some of the comments that I heard, raising that administratively -- and there could be other problems. I'm saying we need to move on. It's going to be a while before this thing is implemented. Let's then look at a regulation which would develop the clear policy that we need to do around health disclosure information that's required or medical information that's required.

Ms Gigantes: I tend to agree with Randy's proposal, and if I could, without breaching the Chair's outline of the rules on which we're proceeding, perhaps if we took items (3) and (3.1) and phrased them, "birth parent shall be invited to provide."

The Chair: The Chair is always willing to accept suggestions. It's just that if this is agreed on, we'll need to then withdraw one amendment and bring another. I'm quite willing to let us try to sort this through, and so as long as people would like to do that, we can continue that way, or we can stop and try to just --

Mr Hope: Ask for a few minutes' recess.

The Chair: Have a few minutes' recess if that will help. But I would like to let the ministry officials just complete their comments and then we can see how we'd like to deal with that.

Ms Belford: I think from a policy and administrative point of view, we would be willing to collect any information that will be genuinely helpful to the adoptee and that the birth parent is willing to provide. We do have to, I think, keep in mind that we have limited resources and we don't want to get into the backlog problem again by making it so onerous that it's going to take somebody a very long time to complete the information.

We're willing to try to accommodate anything that the committee believes is important. I would like my colleague John Calcott, though, from legal services to comment on the wording, perhaps.

Mr John Calcott: Just to reiterate, I guess, Joan's concern about the phrase "If possible, the birth parent shall provide," I think it does cause us a little bit of concern that maybe it will be read as though the filing of a no-contact wish will be contingent upon them actually providing some information. As Joan indicated, there may be some concern about, what type of proof then would we require? Would we take someone's word for it if they said, "My grandparents died when they were 56," or do we say, "Prove it to us"? To what extent are we going to then be required to ensure that the information is accurate?

Again, stepping back, in Mr Martin's motion in subsection 165.1(3) it says there that the registrar shall disclose the notice or the information contained in it, together with any other information provided by the birth parent. I think the intent there was to be as broad as possible, and that is where we would include the reasons, if any were given, why no contact is requested.

We had some discussion when we saw the Liberal motion as to whether or not that would be broad enough to include medical information as well, and there is some debate as to whether it would or it wouldn't. I think a lot would depend on how you design the form. It may be broad enough to read it that it would include medical information. Even if it wasn't, the Child and Family Services Act does have a mechanism to receive non-identifying information. I can appreciate, though, that there is delay in getting that information, as we've heard from other people. There is another mechanism to deal with disclosing other non-identifying information.

The Chair: If I might suggest that there seems to be the possibility of perhaps coming up with some wording that would be acceptable, perhaps I could call for a short recess so that legislative counsel, ministry staff and Mrs O'Neill could --

Mrs O'Neill: Before we do that, I'd like to ask -- and that may not be necessary. I'm happy enough with Ms Gigantes's suggestion. I don't know whether what Mr Hope has suggested is possible. Legislative counsel has twice suggested that regulations don't fit here.

I would certainly be willing, if it would make it any better -- and I do want to make it very clear that I'm not going to grandparents. I'm going to grandparents, it's true, of the adoptee, but not to another generation. So I would be very willing to put "be invited to provide" if that makes the whole world easier for everybody.

I really do believe that what we said earlier -- and I can certainly understand the ministry's concern about workload. But if this bill is going to be meaningful, it's got to have some bucks. If we're not going to provide this kind of information, which is crucial to a person's life, because I'm talking about life and death here, and especially when you're talking about children of children -- the adoptees are very concerned about having children. I've had this in my office. I've had it here. It's a very big concern to them. So if they had this information, if at all possible, then that should be, in my mind, a priority on the file.

The Chair: I think it is our intent to try to see if we can get that wording. Just before we do, Mr McGuinty and Mr Martin have both indicated they want to speak. If we could keep that brief, I think it probably is in everybody's interest that we have a recess just to make sure we get the wording right.

Mr McGuinty: I just want to ask ministry counsel: I'm not sure if I really understood the full import of what he was saying.

Ms Gigantes: That's what they're paid for.

Mr McGuinty: Yes. Are you saying essentially that this amendment is not necessary because that power or that authority is contained within existing statutes? Is that what you're telling us?

Mr Calcott: That's the way that I read it, yes.

Ms Gigantes: To make the form, that is.

Mr Calcott: Not so much to make the form, but for them to provide the information, yes, and we would then prescribe the form. I suppose administratively, rather than have a blank section and have people write in their medical history, there could be prompts in there if we deem it appropriate to use the form as the mechanism to do this. But if that's not appropriate there are other ways to share non-identifying information through the Child and Family Services Act.

Ms Gigantes: I think the problem is that Mrs O'Neill is interested in having the legislation indicate our desire to do that, and that's why we need to take a run at it.

Mrs O'Neill: Yes, and I think legal counsel has given me very good advice, which I want to follow.

The Chair: Could I suggest that we just take a brief recess, and legislative counsel, ministry officials, Ms O'Neill and anyone else could just come together. For everyone's information, in case somebody's just going to step outside, it's 10 after 6. Could we say 6:20, 10 minutes? If we need more we'll take more, but let's see what we can accomplish in 10 minutes.

The committee stands adjourned until 6:20.

The committee recessed from 1810 to 1857.

The Chair: The standing committee on social development is now back in session. The clerk is just handing out the new amendment. I just want to let everybody get it in front of him or her.

Mr Norm Jamison (Norfolk): Do we have it translated yet?

The Chair: We will need to do a couple of things. I think perhaps what I will do, if it's agreeable to the committee, is ask legislative counsel if she would be kind enough just to walk us through it.

Mr Hope: First of all, we should read it in.

The Chair: Yes, first of all to read it in, and then if you could just walk us through it and if there are any questions, and then I realize that we'll have to go back and reopen section 1 of the bill, but if you would be good enough to do that.

Mr Hope: Before she interprets, I would ask that the motion be read into the record by Mrs O'Neill. It's her amendment, so she would have to read it into the record.

The Chair: Well, the only thing is that Mrs O'Neill will have to withdraw her original amendment so that we can then read this one into the record.

Mrs O'Neill: I won't have to read it, though, will I, Mr Chairman?

The Chair: Do you want to do that?

Mrs O'Neill: Will I not be able to just say that I, at this time, would like to withdraw the amendment that I formally presented regarding "Reasons," subsection (3), "Medical information," subsection (3.1) and "Disclosure to registrar general," subsection (3.2)?

The Chair: That's fine. Would you then read the new amendment for the record.

Mrs O'Neill: I would like to place the following amendment in its place:

I move that Mr Martin's motion adding section 8.1 to the bill be amending by striking out subsection --

The Chair: Excuse me. Could I just ask if you could read the part just above, because there are a couple of wording changes, just to make sure that we have the full amendment.

Mrs O'Neill: Okay. I hope I can interpret the handwriting.

The Chair: We will assist, if necessary.

Mrs O'Neill: Section 8.1 of the bill, subsections 165.1(3) and (3.1) of the Child and Family Services Act.

I move that Mr Martin's motion adding section 8.1 to the bill be amended by striking out subsection 165.1(3) of the Child and Family Services Act and by substituting the following:

"Other information

"The birth parent shall be given an opportunity to provide, together with the notice,

"(a) a written statement of his or her reasons for not wishing to be contacted;

"(b) a written statement that briefly summarizes any information he or she may have about,

"(i) any genetic conditions that he or she has, and any past and present serious illnesses;

"(ii) any genetic conditions and past and present serious illnesses of his or her own parents, of the other birth parent (or of the other biological parent, if only one person's name appears on the original birth registration as parent) and of his or her parents;

"(iii) the cause of death and age at death of any of the persons named in clause (b) who are no longer alive; and

"(iv) any other health-related matters that may be relevant;

"(c) a written statement of any other information that may be relevant."

That is my amendment as I now present it.

The Chair: There's still the last part.

Mrs O'Neill: "Disclosure to registrar general," which now is numbered as (3.1).

"(3.1) The registrar shall disclose the notice or the information contained in it, together with any other information provided by the birth parent, to the registrar general under the Vital Statistics Act."

The Chair: There will be another amendment, but we will deal with this one first. Okay? Any discussion?

Mr Hope: Just a correction to the record. At the start of the reading of the amendment, (3) was not indicated as part of it. We just started with "Other information." It never went into specifying the section.

The Chair: Okay. If members are comfortable, then I would put the amendment. All those in favour? Opposed? Carried.

I believe we will have to, then, deal with Mr Martin's amendment, because we have just passed the amendment to Mr Martin's amendment. We'll deal with that, and then we will go back and open section 1.

Mr Martin, you've already read that into the record.

Mr Martin: I have a slight amendment that I need to make to that as well, given what we've just done to subsection (3.1). Do I have to go through the whole thing?

The Chair: It's probably best.

Mr Martin: Okay. I withdraw my previous amendment.

The Chair: You may not have to do this. You can just indicate to us the amendment you wish to make to yours. You don't have to read the whole thing.

Mr Martin: Three quarters of the way down the page, "Non-application of subss. 2(2) to (4)."

Mrs O'Neill: What page are you on?

Mr Martin: I'm on page 3-CS. It's section 8.1 of the bill, section 165.1 of the act. I want to add to that section there.

The Chair: After "under subsection (3)"?

Mr Martin: Yes.

The Chair: Okay, perhaps Mr Martin, if you could read that part.

Mr Martin: I'll read that, yes.

"Non-application of subss. 2(2) to (4) of Vital Statistics Act

"(4) Subsections 2(2) to (4) of the Vital Statistics Act do not apply to anything disclosed under subsections (3) and (3.1)."

Mr Hope: A comment. I would ask for the legal interpretation, because we'll be dealing with the amendment to the main motion. I'm asking for legal interpretation of the changes that we made to Mrs O'Neill's. Our legal counsel knows that specifically what I'm talking about is the interpretation of "information provided."

The Chair: Okay, I'll call on legislative counsel.

Ms Schuh: I'm very sorry to break in here and confess that in my haste I made a mistake here in accepting a suggestion that we needed to add the reference to subsection (3.1). I'm sorry. The reference to subsection (3), at the end of subsection 165.1(4), the subsection with the side note "Non-application of" etc, that reference to subsection (3) is subsection (3) just up above, subsection (3) of the same section.

The Chair: So we can leave it then? We don't need to make the change?

Ms Schuh: Yes. I'm sorry. I beg the indulgence of this committee. It was a mistake.

The Chair: I hate to say, "Ignore what Mr Martin has just said," but --

Mr Martin: Cross that off the record.

Ms Schuh: It never happened.

The Chair: So we are dealing with Mr Martin's amendment as it was originally put forward, but before we do that, Mr Hope.

Mr Hope: I wanted to ask legal counsel to explain for the record, because it could lead to information being provided from the data collected; it could reveal more than what was required. I want to make sure that "(c) a written statement of any other information that may be relevant" is not so broad that it leaves open the addresses and other things of people providing the information.

Ms Schuh: Actually, if the birth parent wanted to provide an address here, nothing would prevent the birth parent from doing it. It would be a senseless thing for the birth parent to do, given that this is a document that's being provided in connection with a no-contact notice, but I don't think there are any restrictions on what information the birth parent could provide under clause (c).

Mr Hope: The information with the person's name on the top of it, if it's not written by the individual, then it cannot be revealed? I'm mailing an information form out to somebody I know is the birth parent, with an address and everything else. The written statement that comes back on the provided form, that top information is not part of the revealed information. Do you follow what I'm saying?

Ms Schuh: I think that probably ministry legal staff would be best placed to respond to that.

Mr Calcott: I think what would be intended there is that you have to separate out the information on their application to register the no-contact notice from other information that they may wish to attach to that no-contact notice. The way we would operationalize that is that we would make it clear, when they fill out their application form, that (c) is a separate written statement that they themselves fill out, so that their name and address, which form part of the application form, aren't part of either (a), (b) or (c).

Ms Gigantes: Can I suggest that we might achieve what we're looking for here by saying in (c), "a written statement of any other non-identifying information that may be relevant."

The Chair: "A written statement of any other nonidentifying information that may be relevant." So adding the word, "non-identifying."

Mr Hope: It's okay the way it's written. I just needed the lawyers to put on the record what this meant.

Ms Gigantes: The problem is that the lawyers may know what it means, but does the person who helps fill out the form or receives the material know what it means? I know lawyers hate repetition when it's redundant, but sometimes repetition helps in administrative issues.

Mrs O'Neill: We have got a little problem. I think we've passed my amendment. So if we're going to add words, I think we're going to have to have it read again.

Mr Hope: I wanted an opinion on the definition, because you notice I dealt with it as a whole motion versus just the amendment. What I wanted was an opinion.

Ms Gigantes: I'm going to move that we amend clause (c) of what we've just accepted to read, "a written statement of any other non-identifying information that may be relevant."


The Chair: I'm quite prepared to go back to what we've passed if people are agreeable.

Mr Jackson: Unanimous consent agreed?

The Chair: Is there unanimous consent? Okay. So we would reopen Mrs O'Neill's amendment. Under (c) it would read, with the amendment:

"(c) a written statement of any other non-identifying information that may be relevant."

Mr Jackson: You can't move this.

The Chair: No, I can't. Would you be good enough to move it?

Ms Gigantes: I would so move.

The Chair: All those in favour of the amendment? Opposed? Carried.

We'll now move to Mr Martin's amendment, as amended.

Mrs O'Neill: I thought we didn't have to amend it.

The Chair: Your amendment amends it. I sometimes wonder, you know, people watching us do clause-by-clause, whether they feel we're in another world. Can we just hold? It is important we get this right. Just pause for a moment. We want to make sure that we get this right. Legislative counsel, please go ahead.

Ms Schuh: I'm sorry to say that I've made a further mistake. In fact, the addition of the reference to subsection (3.1) in subsection 165.1(4) was correct. I think you can all appreciate that this is a very confusing process, but Nancy Sills, the lawyer from Consumer and Commercial Relations, has pointed out to me that it should indeed be added, and I think she's right. I do apologize. I can only say that this is all happening very quickly.

The Chair: We quite understand. Don't apologize. It's important we get this right. If we have to amend and reamend and amend again to get it right, we will.

Let me just back up then. First of all, we are now agreed on Mrs O'Neill's amendment, and we have carried that.

We have now moved to Mr Martin's amendment. I think just to be safe, can you just go back to our favourite non-application clause?

Mr Martin: You mean subsection 165.1(4)?

The Chair: Right. If you'd just read that back in.

Mr Martin: "Subsections 2(2) to (4) of the Vital Statistics Act do not apply to anything disclosed under subsections (3) and (3.1)."

The Chair: All those in favour of Mr Martin's amendment, as amended? All those opposed? Carried.

Mr Hope: It's a good thing this is not a partisan bill.

The Chair: I now would ask that we carry section 8.1, as amended. All in favour? Opposed? Carried.

I'll now call section 9. All those in favour? Opposed? Carried.

We then come to section 9.1.

Mr Martin: There are a couple of changes here to even the amendment that you have, that legislative counsel has brought to my attention. I'll explain that in a minute.

I move that the bill be amended by adding the following section:

"9.1 The act is amended by adding the following section:

"Offence, contacting birth parent despite notice

"176.1 (1) No person who has been given information under subsection 28(8) of the Vital Statistics Act together with a copy of his or her original birth registration shall knowingly contact or attempt to contact the birth parent, directly or indirectly, except under section 167 or 169."

The Chair: Say that again, please.

Mr Martin: "Except under section 167 or 169."

The Chair: "Except under section 167 or 169." Does everybody have that? We'll ask you just to tell us what that means.

Mr Martin: Okay, this is coming at you again, so I'll wait until the end and then I'll tell you, okay?


"(2) No person shall knowingly contact or attempt to contact the birth parent, directly or indirectly, on behalf of another person who is prohibited from doing so by subsection (1), except under section 167 or 169."

The Chair: Okay, "except under section 167 or 169."

Mrs O'Neill: Mr Chairman, could we just hear what --

The Chair: We're just going to let him finish all the amendments and then we'll go back.

Mr Martin: The next is:


"(3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000."

Without these added words, an adoptee who applies under those sections to the adoption disclosure register for a search by the registrar would be contravening this section and committing an offence.

The Chair: That was all to be added after "$5,000"?

Mr Martin: No, that's just the explanation.

The Chair: Oh, sorry. Let's just get the additional words straight first. The additional words are just "except under section 167 or 169."

Mr Martin: Yes. What we're saying here is without these added words, an adoptee who applies under those sections would be contravening this section and committing an offence.

The Chair: We'll now have discussion. I have Mr Hope and Ms O'Neill.

Mr Hope: First of all, I don't have the full context of 167 or 169 and I would ask those who have that information if they could read it aloud so we know what those specific sections make reference to. You're exempting sections 167 and 169, and I don't have the total 167 or 169 in front of me to make an honest judgement call about an amendment we're being asked to support. Could I ask ministry counsel?

Mr Calcott: Section 167 of the Child and Family Services Act is the section that permits, among others, adopted persons who have attained 18 years of age to apply to be registered in the adoption disclosure register. Once our ministry receives an application, we're required to register the name in the register and then conduct a search of the register to see whether there's been a match.

Ms Gigantes: That would be an indirect contact.

Mr Calcott: I guess there's some concern that that may be an indirect contact, if someone applies to register the name.

Similarly, section 169 of the Child and Family Services Act permits an adopted person who has attained the age of 18 years to request a search for, for example, a birth parent, and we want to make it clear that that wouldn't be considered to be contravening the legislation as well. Once they enter into the adoption disclosure register, it is a consensual register and identifying information isn't shared until both parties agree.

Mrs O'Neill: When that happens, this bill kicks in and they would be told there is a request for no contact.

Mr Calcott: Pardon me? I didn't understand.

Mrs O'Neill: They wouldn't be committing an offence, but the information would be relayed to them at that time that there has been a no-contact registered.

Mr Calcott: The information will be relayed to them when they receive the copy of the original birth registration. But let's say a couple of months later they decided to apply to the Community and Social Services adoption disclosure register on the off chance perhaps that their birth parent had changed his or her mind and entered into the register, that wouldn't be viewed, if there was a no-contact notice there that hadn't been withdrawn, as breaking the law.

Mrs O'Neill: I hate to ask this question, but we're trying to be thorough. You're suggesting to me now, and I've been thinking about this as well, that you've got the two registers. Is there any chance that they would ever be in conflict, the birth parents who are suggesting that they want to be found and would be part of a consensual and that there would be also a no-contact with the same person? Or will these be automatically cross-checked at all times?

Some people have a great deal of difficulty making a decision on this matter, may be wanting to do one thing to please a certain circumstance, do another thing to please another circumstance, and I presume this is an administrative matter, but I guess we need to know, would there ever be a possibility for a conflict between these two lists or registers?

Mr Calcott: I suppose, theoretically, it is possible that someone could register a no-contact wish and then enter into the adoption disclosure register. I guess it's a bit illogical that one would do that. If you wanted to move to a reunion, to sign up on the adoption disclosure register, you would most likely use the provision in Bill 158 to withdraw your no-contact notice.


I suppose there is a situation where perhaps if you forgot or you didn't withdraw it and it was sort of sitting there, but I think, and maybe Joan can speak to this, that's perhaps one of the things, administratively, that we would ask people, "Have you registered and, if so, have you withdrawn your registration?" If you move to the offence provision, I think it's unlikely that any prosecution would be successful if the person encouraged contact through the adoption disclosure register and then subsequently said, "Hey, you violated the no-contact."

Mrs O'Neill: Okay, and if Joan wants to make a comment, it would be fine.

Ms Belford: That's fine.

The Chair: All right. Is everyone comfortable then?

All those in favour of Mr Martin's amendment, as amended? All those opposed? Carried.

We then come to section 10, and just to remind everyone, I will go back to section 1, because we have that one that we have to go back to at the end. Mr Martin, section 10.

Mr Martin: Did we pass section 9.1?

The Chair: Yes.

Mr Martin: We did? Okay.

I move that subsection 10(2) of the bill be struck out and the following substituted:


"(2) Section 1, subsection 9(2) and section 9.1 come into force on the first anniversary of the day named by proclamation."

The Chair: Any discussion? Mr McGuinty.

Mr McGuinty: I have some comments of a general nature, but maybe now's as good a time as any to make them, as we wind up, and I've made reference to these earlier. My concern is that what we're doing is advancing the rights of the adoptees at the expense of the birth parents. I just want us to recognize that that's happening and that, to repeat, this legislation goes further, in my understanding, than any other legislation anywhere in terms of giving adoptees the right to obtain birth particulars without involving the birth parents in that decision.

I want to again just emphasize what the Information and Privacy Commissioner said in his letter to us: "However, unlike the present Child and Family Services Act, the bill does not provide birth parents with an opportunity to express their views on access to identifying information about themselves. In other words, under the bill" -- this bill that is -- "adoptees' rights outweigh birth parents' privacy rights in all cases, without exception."

There's no doubt that people are contacting their birth parents now, but I think the important change for us to understand is that they've not been doing so with the assistance of the province. Now the province will be providing birth particulars.

The real concern I have is the presumption that is created in the bill that says you are presumed to desire contact. If you don't register a no-contact notice, you are presumed to desire contact. I would have felt more comfortable, and I don't think it changes very much, if we had a different presumption in there, and that presumption would be that the desire is for no contact unless you register.

I think the objective of the bill is to provide birth particulars. That doesn't change it. They're going to get the birth particulars either way. The only difference that I think would have lent greater weight to the birth parents' right to confidentiality would be created through that presumption of no contact. What we're going to have now is we're going to have some people contacted who don't want to be contacted. Again, that's happening now but never before has it happened with the assistance of the province.

I understand that if you don't want to be contacted and you are contacted, that can be a fairly disruptive experience, and I think we could have done something here today which would have made it a little harder for that kind of corollary damage to occur. Anyway, I just wanted to put that on the record and make it clear that there are some downsides to this legislation -- like anything else, it's not all good -- but I think we could have tightened it up a little bit to better recognize and give life to the right of a birth parent to confidentiality.

Ms Gigantes: I think we recognize what is at issue here and we have to make a decision. That's what the bill is about. I don't think there is any little thing that we can do that will achieve the main purpose of what we want to achieve here, without making the decision that in fact we are saying it is more important for adopted people to have access to information about themselves. It's also their personal information. It's not just the parents' information --

Mr McGuinty: That's not the issue. I agree with that.

Ms Gigantes: -- it's also their information. If any of us could think of a way of providing them with that information without disclosing somebody else's information if they didn't wish to have it disclosed, that's what we'd choose to do, but there is no possibility of doing that.

The Chair: I appreciate concerns. We are dealing with an amendment which I would like to move. I know there are others who wanted to speak and I will permit that, but I would otherwise just move the amendment.

Mr O'Connor, then Mr Hope and Mrs O'Neill.

Mr Larry O'Connor (Durham-York): Just on the concern raised by my colleague Mr McGuinty, maybe in a way of trying to share information in the form of recommendation to the people from the ministry here, there are any number of different government cheques that are issued, and on the stub of that cheque, there is a spot where information could be shared and maybe that's one place in which the information could be shared. It doesn't cost a lot of money in a campaign and isn't necessarily going to hit every birth parent, but it has an opportunity of possibly hitting some birth parents. I think that the bill does reflect a change in attitude and position and I support it. I'm just trying to reassure my colleague there.

Mr Hope: Maybe we could keep it very short, because once I listened to Cam and he didn't even say anything. He just showed his hands. But what I would like to put on the record is, those individuals who are put up for adoption never had the opportunity of contact or say, and what they're asking for is the opportunity to be restored and that is important. I'll shut it off there.


Mrs O'Neill: I just want to affirm that the adoption disclosure register, as we now know it, is going to be maintained, that is, that birth parents who do want to have reunification will still be able to register in this province. Is that correct?

Ms Belford: Yes.

Mrs O'Neill: I think that is important.

I wanted to ask Mr Martin, considering what was said today, particularly by the children's aid societies, if he had thought of changing from the one year, the first anniversary. I don't know how much data has been collected about whether an information package and an education process across Ontario, let alone across Canada, can be achieved in one year. Let's be realistic. We're going to be in the middle of an election campaign, all of us, in that year. Have you thought about that at all?

Mr Martin: No, I hadn't. The suggestion of extending that time period, this is the first I've heard of it today. Given the strong feeling of the folks who are driving this piece of legislation, the adoptive community out there, I think a year is sufficient. I think they feel probably a year is even too long. If we're going to do this, let's do it. There will be a program of public education that will happen, election or no election. The folks who work for the government don't get themselves involved in those sorts of things and will be working while we're out there.

Mr Jackson: There are budget implications here.

Mr Martin: Yes.

Mrs O'Neill: That's important.

Mr Martin: That has been considered. We will be making sure in the ways we have to us that we will be communicating the changes that are happening here and trying in whatever way we can to let people know. I think Ms Gigantes earlier tonight said too that we could do this for two years, we could do it for five years, we could do it for 10 years, and they still wouldn't cotton on to what's happening because it just isn't something they're concerned about or looking into. So I'm comfortable that the year is enough.

Mrs O'Neill: I just want an affirmation. I'm sorry, but JobLink is an example of this government making announcements, then consulting and still no moneys flowing. I'm very concerned that if this goes until June, there will not be anything flowing in the way of information. We'll be tied to this and there are people who need to know about it. So I really hope the government will do this tout de suite.

The Chair: I'll put the question then. All those in favour? Opposed? Carried.

All in favour of section 10 as amended? Opposed? Carried.

Before going to section 11, I'd like to now go back to the amendment to section 1. Is unanimous consent granted? All right. If you would bear with me, I'm going to read it, because there are a few other words that have to be added to this. It would now read as follows:

"Section 1 of the bill (subsection 28(9) of the Vital Statistics Act)

"Other information

"(9) The registrar general shall also give the adopted person any information provided by the birth parent under subsection 165.1(3) of the Child and Family Services Act and disclosed to the registrar general together with the notice; if no such information was disclosed, the registrar general shall advise the adopted person of that fact."

Legislative counsel, for the benefit of members, just why the change in that wording?

Mrs O'Neill: Mr Chairman, I'm using the same process. I'm not withdrawing and submitting a new one, because that's still sitting there.

The Chair: I'm sorry. You're right. We have to pass this first and then you withdraw yours. No, passing this, I'm informed, will in effect supersede what you have already done.

Mrs O'Neill: I leave it in the hands of the experts. I did one thing one time; I thought I was going to do it again.

The Chair: Legislative counsel, could you comment?

Ms Schuh: We've changed the side note and the reference to provisions of 165.1 to parallel the changes that we made to Mrs O'Neill's motion adding various subsections to 165.1. In the redrafting that we did during the recess, we collapsed (3) and (3.1) into a single subsection (3). So that's all we need to refer to here.

The Chair: All right. The first thing is, then, shall Mr Hope's motion carry? Carried.

Shall section 1 of the bill, as amended, carry? Carried.

We then go back to section 11. Shall section 11 of the bill carry? Carried.

Shall Bill 158, as amended, carry? Carried.

Shall the bill be reported to the House? Carried.

Before everyone goes, first of all, we have another matter we have to deal with, but with respect to this particular bill, I'd like to thank legislative counsel, the staff from both ministries, for working with us over the last couple of weeks, and in particular, if I might, all of those persons who came before the committee. This, I think I can say, has at times been a very emotional set of hearings and I just want to thank everyone who's been associated with this and also has helped us through the niceties of some of the wording for all their help.

I want to ask the clerk to circulate a letter which I received today and which I need to raise with the committee, which regards our future course of work.

Mr Jackson: Does it affect Bill 85?

The Chair: Yes, it does.

Mr Jackson: And you didn't give me a copy?

The Chair: We're just circulating it. We just received this letter late this afternoon. Members will recall that yesterday the subcommittee met and at the end of our session yesterday I advised members of the committee that the subcommittee had requested that I write to the government House leader with respect to Bill 85, and I did so. I'll just read the letter so it's on the record. It's addressed to me, and says:

"Thank you for your letter of 6 December about the subcommittee's request for intersession time. I understand the full social development committee was unable to discuss the subcommittee's report yesterday. I suggest the full committee discuss and vote on the subcommittee's request today as it is the last scheduled committee meeting of this session. I look forward to hearing from you in this matter.

"Yours sincerely,

"Brian Charlton, government House leader."

The subcommittee had met and it was on that basis that I had sent the letter. We have an opportunity for the full committee to discuss this matter and I would now like to make sure that members of the committee have an opportunity to discuss it.

Mr Hope: May I ask what the subcommittee report was?

The Chair: The subcommittee report was that the House leaders schedule time in the intersession for us to deal with Bill 85, which was the last remaining piece of legislation before our committee which we had not dealt with.

You may recall -- or I'm not sure whether you were with the committee then -- that in the spring we had planned to deal with that bill and then it had been decided we had to do long-term care and we would do the adoption bill, and we had not scheduled Bill 85, so that was brought back to our attention, once we had dealt with long-term care and with Bill 158.


Mr Hope: Are you telling me that the subcommittee is recommending an unspecified time period to deal with one bill or just as specified to sit?

The Chair: The subcommittee was recommending that we find a week in January or February, excluding the last week in February, to deal with that bill. That was the wording. So, essentially, I guess Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday would be --


The Chair: The end of February? Some members of the committee were not going to be here; that's why we put that in.

Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, I'm not in favour of the subcommittee's report or recommendations.


The Chair: Order, please. I'm sorry. Could you repeat that? I just didn't hear.

Ms Gigantes: I'm not in favour of the subcommittee's recommendation. I don't think that we should be meeting in this committee in the intersession period and therefore I'm going to vote against the recommendation. The bill will be with us, can be carried over --

Mr Jackson: Do you know what the bill's about?

Ms Gigantes: Yes, I do.

Mr Jackson: What is it about?

Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, if I could finish my remarks, this matter has been put before us in a private member's bill, which is a member's bill that reflects issues which have been raised in private members' bills, to my knowledge, for the last 15 years when Jim Renwick certainly tabled a private member's bill dealing with proceeds from crime. I would ask the committee members to agree that we will suggest to the House leaders that it be dealt with once the House has met again in the spring.

The Chair: Ms Gigantes, the letter that went forward was an advisory letter simply indicating to the House leaders what the subcommittee was suggesting. It was not a decision of the committee; it was advisory to them to determine whether to do that or not.

Ms Gigantes: Well, we're now being asked by the government House leader to discuss it, which I think is appropriate. A subcommittee doesn't report to the House leaders; it reports to this committee. I therefore indicate my preference on this matter and the reasons why.

The Chair: All right. Is there discussion on Ms Gigantes's suggestion?

Mr Jackson: This is awkward, because it took a considerable amount of restraint from several quarters, from large organizations in this province, that knew that Bill 85 was ordered ahead of Mr Martin's bill. There was an effort to cooperate. It would appear, at least from one speaker from the government side, that that spirit of cooperation has now stopped within minutes of completing a rather important bill on adoption.

The piece of legislation which hopefully will be considered by this committee, regardless of how long it has been debated in this province, is timely by virtue of a pretty horrific case before the courts where a criminal potentially stands to gain millions of dollars.

The Ontario Law Reform Commission is studying and is supportive of this, and that'll come out; the minister herself has given guarded support for certain aspects of it, but I think there is a greater issue of fairness and integrity as to how this committee conducts itself. I'll certainly be seeking a recorded vote on this motion. It's cast in the positive. We're asking to affirm the subcommittee recommendation.

I think it's fair that whether it's the French family or the Mahaffy family who are continuing to suffer through their ordeal, that they have publicly asked for the support of Parliament in a non-partisan fashion and that it consider this bill. One week in the life of members of this committee is not a huge sacrifice to call upon them to do. I really do believe that there was a high level of support and understanding, and that was personally conveyed to Mr Martin with his bill that's just been completed and we were pleased to participate in that. It wasn't an easy decision for me to yield my own bill for something when I didn't necessarily have to yield that time.

I am just quite surprised. I'm not surprised to see the letter. If it wasn't done as appropriately, that's fine, but I am rather surprised at the rationale that's been provided, at least by Ms Gigantes. I have indicated to the subcommittee that I believe we should at least meet one day in Ottawa because there are some national victims' rights organizations that are extremely interested in this legislation. That is in your own community, Ms Gigantes, and I would have hoped that we would have had some support from you individually in that regard.

As I say, I will ask for a recorded vote in this matter. The families aren't even aware that this is a problem. They have been notified of the committee's decision of yesterday. I've talked to them.

Mr McGuinty: I want to go on record as being in favour of dealing with my colleague's bill during the intersession. I'm not familiar with the specifics of his bill, but I know it treats an important topic. It's one that ought to be subjected to a debate, if we have the time available during intersession. It appears that we do have that time, so I feel that we should be dealing with this bill during intersession.

Furthermore, it appears that there was some kind of an agreement, informal or otherwise, struck between my colleague and members of the government, and it just seems to me -- how would I frame this? -- rather unseemly that the government is showing signs of reneging on this agreement.

Mr Jackson: No, one member. That's all we've heard from. It's only one member.

Mrs O'Neill: I feel that the intersession is a very important time. I don't think that there is any need for us to wait. We were told by this government that they are not interested in committee meetings during the intersession except for pre-budget consultations. That's the first time I've heard that ruling. In the seven-some years I've been here, we've always worked in January and February. People expect us to be working. This bill has a very high interest and I think it should be on the agenda, and I think it should be on the agenda of this committee.

People have been waiting for this bill, the same as they waited for the adoption bill, but we were and we have been mandated to deal with long-term care, which has taken an awful lot of our time over the last two years, both Bill 101 and Bill 173. These other matters were set aside. It may or may not have been totally necessary to delay them as long as they have, but let's face it: This bill's been around for a long time now.

Mr Martin: No comment.

The Chair: If I might, the subcommittee did meet yesterday and it did request that I send the letter forward, but I just want to be clear. There is now a motion before the committee that we not meet, because I need a motion if --

Ms Gigantes: I so move.

The Chair: Ms Gigantes has so moved. Is there further discussion on that motion? Mr Hope?

Mr Hope: No.

Mrs O'Neill: There's definitely a request for a recorded vote.

The Chair: All those in favour of Ms Gigantes's motion?

Mrs O'Neill: I hope that the minutes will refer to --

Mr Jackson: Let me just be clear, but I did ask, Mr Chairman. I did ask --

Ms Gigantes: On a point of order, Mr Chair: There's a vote going on.

Mr Jackson: No one individual has placed the motion before the committee at the moment, as I understand it.

Ms Gigantes: I have, yes. I have moved the motion.


The Chair: Yes, I asked if Ms Gigantes was placing it as a motion and she then did place it and then I've just asked if there's any discussion on that motion.

Mr Jackson: I'm seeking clarification, because I thought we were voting on the motion to support the subcommittee report, which never did get to the full committee. You advised the committee, but it never voted on the subcommittee report. So now we have a motion not to proceed with the subcommittee report that's not in the minutes.

The Chair: I understand, and you ask a good question. The subcommittee asked that I write to the House leaders. I was reporting that to the committee. It was not asking last night for approval or disapproval; it was informing the committee that the subcommittee had asked, as an advisory to the House leaders, that in the intersession we had one bill and that the committee could deal with that during that time.

Mr Jackson: Mr Chairman, yesterday, just for my memory peg, the subcommittee members for that committee were yourself, myself --

The Chair: Ms O'Neill and Mr O'Connor.

Mr Jackson: -- and that was our unanimous report that we proceed on that basis.

The Chair: It was an advisory to the House leaders. We have received a letter from the --

Mr Jackson: I understand that. I'm at odds with someone having a motion not to present a report of the subcommittee, which is rather unusual. I thought the subcommittee's report comes to the table and you vote against it. If Ms Gigantes wants to block --

Ms Gigantes: That was where I started.

Mr Jackson: Fair ball. I want to make sure, because I was about to vote, but I thought we're obligated to present the report if we're going to vote on the report. Therefore, someone should table the subcommittee's report. Perhaps Mr O'Connor would like to table the subcommittee report, and then we can vote.

Mr Hope: That's why I asked him what was the subcommittee report, because I wasn't about to make a decision --

The Chair: But I think the question, though, is, the subcommittee --

Mr Jackson: -- is obligated to report to this committee and advise in what we're doing.

The Chair: We can present that to the committee --

Mr Jackson: -- and then you can vote against it. Ms Gigantes can vote against it, but the subcommittee has reported in the positive that we proceed with a bill that deals with criminals profiting from their recollections of their crimes. I've been loosely calling this the Bernardo bill, even though he's not been found guilty yet, but that's what this bill is about.

The Chair: May I ask then, just to clarify some procedural points, if the clerk would comment at this point.

Clerk of the Committee (Mr Doug Arnott): The subcommittee report yesterday was an advisory report. It did not contain a recommendation. It was advisory to this committee. The Chair reported to this committee that the subcommittee had directed the Chair to write to the House leaders requesting authorization of meeting time during the winter. It did not contain a recommendation.

Mr Jackson: Just a minute. So nobody objected when the report -- I'm sorry to interrupt, Mr Chairman --

Ms Gigantes: I did.

Mr Jackson: Yesterday you objected.

Ms Gigantes: Yes, I did.

Mr Jackson: What did you object to yesterday?

Ms Gigantes: I objected to the fact that we weren't discussing it, and the Chair recognized that.

Mrs O'Neill: I just want to say, Mr Chairman, the reason this has happened is that we are being forced to rise on Thursday. We knew there was a House leaders' meeting today. We were trying to be helpful. We weren't trying to do anything wrong. We were trying to let the House leaders, all our House leaders, know what we were thinking, and we hoped that we would get cooperation. You, certainly, and certainly at our direction, weren't trying to do anything outside the mandate of this committee.

Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, there is a motion that I moved at your request which says that we not recommend to the House leaders that we schedule Bill 85 for the intersession. If that's the way you would like it, Mr Chair, I'll leave it on the table. If not, if it's helpful, I'll withdraw it. But I think we could proceed to vote on that.

Mr Eddy: That's a negative motion.

The Chair: We have two ways of approaching it. We can vote on the --

Ms Gigantes: On the negative motion.

The Chair: -- negative motion or we can present the subcommittee motion to the committee --

Mr Hope: Present the subcommittee's report and let's vote on that.

The Chair: -- and vote on that. We would then present the subcommittee --

Ms Gigantes: I withdraw my motion.

The Chair: Okay, withdrawn.

Ms Gigantes: We are then prepared to proceed with the other.

The Chair: Is there approval for the subcommittee's report --

Mrs O'Neill: Recorded vote.

The Chair: -- recorded vote -- to the House leaders that Bill 85 be scheduled for the intersession?

Mr Jackson: So moved.

The Chair: All those in favour of the subcommittee report?


Eddy, Jackson, McGuinty, O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau).

The Chair: All those opposed?


Carter, Gigantes, Hope, Jamison, Martin, O'Connor.

The Chair: The motion is defeated.

Mr Jackson: You have no idea what you've done.

Ms Gigantes: I would put forward another motion -- I didn't wish to confuse the issue by joining them -- that we schedule Bill 85 for the next regular session of this committee in the spring session.

Mrs O'Neill: And only you know whether that will happen.

Ms Gigantes: That's why I'm putting it forward.

Mr Jackson: We will reconvene as a committee once the House reconvenes and we'll start all over again.

Mr Hope: On a point of order, Mr Chair: There's a motion on the floor and you have to deal with it.

The Chair: The motion has been put --

Mrs O'Neill: He can speak to that.

Mr Hope: So you're speaking to the motion.

The Chair: -- and Mr Jackson is speaking to the motion.

Mr Jackson: I am seeing politics being played with families who have been put through living hell in this province. I would have assumed that the government had enough common sense and decency to have not played politics with something like this. I'm not offended personally. I mean, we learn in this business that you take your best chances when you're in a minority position as a parliamentarian, but this is manipulative and mean-spirited in the extreme.

Mr Martin, I had assumed, had some modicum of decency when we dealt with these issues, when we worked cooperatively with respect to adoption reform. I was badly, badly misled and so were a lot of families. They've been very supportive and happy that Mr Martin was positioning himself that way.

Mr O'Connor -- it's mind-boggling. I feel used, I feel lied to, I feel misrepresented on a matter of parliamentary trust with respect to the conduct of the subcommittee yesterday.

I can't imagine why this government would play politics with this issue when victims' rights groups in this province were unanimous. We're not just talking the families of Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy; we're talking about many families who've experienced this issue. They have watched profiteering from crime going on, and the stakes and the prices are getting higher.

I want to let the members know as well that when the Attorney General referred my entire bill over to the law reform commission, the law reform commission wrote a very positive response to this bill.

I have said from day one, "Please, Minister Boyd, take the bill, make it your own bill." I don't want the authorship of this, I just want the law to be there. I want the law in place before that trial is completed. We are talking millions of dollars of profiteering of our criminal elements or people who have done some of the most heinous crimes in this province's recorded history.


And for now, to just blindside this committee and the families who worked really hard for this bill -- I was absent from this committee for a period of time today because I was upstairs, subbed into the justice committee, struggling to overcome the fact that two victims' rights groups want to have an impact on my 125 resolution on victims' rights, Mr Chairman, and I was told by the government, who had worked a deal, that I had less than 12 hours to get all those amendments in place.

Mrs Debbie Mahaffy made a quick phone call to the Liberal member on the committee and to the government side out of desperate appeal: "Would you please at least allow me to have a voice in the committee report?" Now, we were able to correct that, and Priscilla de Villiers, who was on an airplane to Ottawa, then rushed off to make a call to members in this building in order to plead with them to give her at least one more week to get her information into a report. Now, how am I supposed to go back to these individuals and say, "I know it's only been four hours since I talked to you, but wait till you hear the latest little number that they're doing on you"?

I can't begin to tell you how many victims' families in this province have felt done in by governments, not just your government or the previous government or the one before that. They've been seeking these reforms for a long time, and why this government is so frightened of one small piece of legislation which the citizens of this province have, quite frankly, highly supported and are looking forward to -- don't make it my bill, make it your bill, but let's get on with the reform.

Mr O'Connor, I don't know how you can look people straight in the face after what you said yesterday in this committee.

Mr O'Connor: You should ask him why he didn't want to move forward in the summer.

Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, can you please --

The Chair: Let Mr Jackson wind up. I have Ms O'Neill and then we'll have to move --


The Chair: Order, please.

Mr Jackson: Long-term care took priority. I've been accused of -- why I didn't proceed with it in the summer.

Mr O'Connor: In June you had time.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Jackson: Mr O'Connor, no, we did not have time in June and that's a fact.

Mrs O'Neill: I will say that in June we dealt with the Children at Risk report, and that went right till the very end of the session.

One of the problems with this government is that we have had very, very limited sittings. Anybody who's been around Ontario knows that. We've got bills being put through with 18 closure motions and we're being told today --


Mrs O'Neill: Every single bill this government presented this fall has been time-allocated.

Ms Gigantes: It's the only short session we've had since --

Mrs O'Neill: I didn't speak when you spoke.

The Chair: Order, please. Ms O'Neill has the floor.

Mrs O'Neill: I did not speak. The fact of the matter is that we haven't had one new piece of legislation presented this fall sitting. It was designed that way. So we have to sit on our hands and wait until you guys call an election. We can't do anything. The people of Ontario are pretty mad about that and so are we.

I'm telling you that on December 6, 1994, the unanimous consent motion now looks a bit shabby to me from the government, that they would stand today and talk about women who have been abused and violence that has been portrayed against women, and then come in here today and say they haven't got any interest in this bill, which we all likely will agree to in the end. But the timing of it is crucial.

These families haven't got much to go on over Christmas. Maybe some people have been made happy with Bill 158, so you can be as self-righteous as you want and you can smile and you can use your power. I think you're using it very badly today.

The Chair: Any other comments?

Mr McGuinty: Just so I'm clear, Mr Chair, does that mean we won't be meeting at all during the intersession?

The Chair: There has been no recommendation to meet. There is no matter before us.

Mr Eddy: Are there other committees that will? You don't know whether there are other committees that have the opportunity --

The Chair: I don't know.

Mr Eddy: It seems, when we have the time, it's a waste of time. As Ms O'Neill has pointed out, people expect us to be working. I know we work in our constituencies certainly, but it's more or less perceived as more of a vacation, I think, than working, and they want us working on legislation in the House. That's certainly what I get told time and time again.

I think it's unfortunate. If we have the time, why wouldn't we proceed? Is there a reason why we can't? Is there some reason that we can't decide to proceed with the bill and the hearings?

Ms Gigantes: Mr Chair, if I could, maybe Mr Eddy's not aware of the motion on which the discussion is taking place, which is a motion that we inform the House leaders that we'd like to schedule this bill for the spring session as soon as we come back.

Mrs O'Neill: That may or may never happen.

Mr Eddy: And that will be April. It has been as late as April, hasn't it? It's unfortunate.

Mrs O'Neill: We are proroguing and we have no guarantees. There are no guarantees at all when you prorogue, none.

Mr McGuinty: Recently, and Ms Gigantes will be aware of this, in Ottawa-Carleton in the context of our municipal elections, our largest local paper conducted a poll to find out what was uppermost in the minds of our constituents. They said that crime was the number one issue.

Mrs O'Neill: Exactly.

Mr McGuinty: I have a feeling that is a feeling that's fairly widespread throughout the province. Now, if we take that factor, number one -- factor number two, I'm not sure about the government members, but I would find it really hard to go into a crowded room in my riding and say, "I'm not sitting in committee between December 8 and the end of March, and possibly later."

Mrs O'Neill: Maybe never.

Mr McGuinty: I wouldn't want to say that to an editorial board. I'm not sure whom I'd want to say it to, except maybe my wife and kids. So I think we have a responsibility to use the time that's available to us as wisely as we can. This is not the kind of bill that you would categorize as not having any real purpose, as causing mischief. I think it treats a very important issue that's on the minds of very many Ontarians and I really can't understand why we aren't able to get it in between now and the end of March.

The Chair: We have a motion that has been put forward. I'm going to call the motion.

Ms Gigantes: A recorded vote. The Chair: A recorded vote. All those in favour of Ms Gigantes's motion?


Carter, Gigantes, Hope, Jamison, O'Connor.

The Chair: All those opposed?


Eddy, Jackson, McGuinty, O'Neill (Ottawa-Rideau).

The Chair: I declare the motion carried.

There being no further business before the committee, it stands adjourned until the call of the Chair.

The committee adjourned at 2007.