Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Motherisk: Ontario; Hospital for Sick Children accused by Children's Aid Society's of not standing behind their 'apology' for the Motherisk debacle which has caused havoc in hundreds of families in Ontario and other provinces;

PUBLISHER'S  NOTE:  As much as I feel that The Hospital  for Sick Children has failed its public trust for failing to rein in Charles Smith before he could cause such widespread harm and misery  - and  for failing to learn from the Smith debacle and thereby allowing Motherisk to occur, with similar devastation to innocent individuals and families - the Children's Aid Societies cannot be allowed to wiggle off the hook and evade their own responsibility by blaming Sick Kids. My understanding is that typically children's aid societies chose to act solely on the finding of the  famed hospital's Motherisk lab  - without listening to the desperate voices crying for an independent investigation - talk to us, listen to us, speak to our neighbours, speak to our preacher, speak to our doctor -  because they were innocent and they dreaded the possibility that their children would be torn from them and placed for adoption.  All to no avail. My  message to the Association of Children's Aid Societies is: 'Yes, Sick Kids still owes an apology  right from the top - from each and every member of the Board. They failed the public trust. But you made the decisions in the individual cases - that we are learning will probably never be set right because the adoptions have gone through. You should be looking into your own souls, and the way that you  exercised your public trust. 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;


QUOTE OF THE DAY:  "Behind a true apology is continuing to make amends and … continuing to help with the work that needs to be done... “I would like to see SickKids stand behind their apology. I don’t know that we’re seeing them step up.”

Mary Ballantyne:  Executive director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

STORY: "Hospital for Sick Children. SickKids urged to do more on Motherisk scandal" by reporter Rachel Mendelson, published by The Toronto Star on  December 13, 2016;

SUB-HEADING:  "Children’s Aid Societies say hospital must help more with aftermath of testing probe."

PHOTO CAPTION:  "Mary Ballantyne, Head of the Ontario Association for Children's Aid Societies, says SickKids hospital hould do more to assist in the efforts underway to deliver justice to those affected by the Motherisk scandal.

GIST:  "Children’s Aid Societies are calling on the Hospital for Sick Children to “step up” and own the role it played in the Motherisk scandal that saw faulty drug and alcohol hair tests used in thousands of child protection cases. Mary Ballantyne, executive director of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS) said SickKids, which housed the discredited Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory, should do more to assist in the significant efforts underway to deliver justice to those affected. “Behind a true apology is continuing to make amends and … continuing to help with the work that needs to be done,” Ballantyne said in an interview on Monday. “I would like to see SickKids stand behind their apology. I don’t know that we’re seeing them step up.” SickKids, which had previously defended the reliability of Motherisk’s hair tests, issued a public apology in October 2015 for “unacceptable” practices at the lab after completing an internal probe. Soon after, retired Justice Susan Lang’s independent review of Motherisk — conducted amid an ongoing Star investigation — found the hospital failed to provide meaningful oversight of Motherisk, and the lab’s drug and alcohol hair test results were “inadequate” and “unreliable” for use in child protection and criminal cases. Established on Lang’s recommendation, the Motherisk Commission of Inquiry is now reviewing high-priority child protection cases, to see if positive Motherisk tests — often accepted without question as proof of parental substance abuse — played too significant a role in decisions to remove a child from her family. These review efforts depend heavily on Children’s Aid Societies, which spend between eight and 20 hours on each file, according to OACAS. The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has given $1.5 million in additional funding to OACAS. Although SickKids has provided information to help locate relevant files, the hospital has yet to contribute financially, Ballantyne said. “The costs that are involved in doing this work are significant, so what role are they and can they be playing in these costs?” she said. SickKids declined to make CEO Michael Apkon available for an interview on Monday. In a response to an email from the Star, hospital spokeswoman Matet Nebres said only that “the hospital continues to co-operate with (the) ongoing review, and to provide support if and when requested, in order to address the concerns of families who believe that they may have been negatively affected by the Motherisk Drug Testing Lab.” SickKids has been named in several proposed lawsuits. Apkon has previously acknowledged the hospital “may need to participate in compensating impacted families.” Before the lab was shuttered in 2015, Motherisk actively marketed its hair drug and alcohol tests to child protection agencies, which commissioned the lab to test the hair of 16,000 individuals between 2005 and 2015, Lang found. With each test costing $700, it was a lucrative proposition, as the Star has previously reported.........Motherisk Commission lawyer Lorne Glass said SickKids has been “very co-operative” in terms of organizing their data to make it easier for his team to connect with Children’s Aid Societies and reach affected families, but he declined to weigh in on the question of additional funding. Ballantyne stressed that Children’s Aid Societies work closely with SickKids “all the time,” emphasizing the need to “maintain that relationship and trust.” That trust was tested in October 2014, when a Court of Appeal decision in a criminal case that had relied on the Motherisk hair test cast doubt on the reliability of the lab’s evidence, which was previously seen as almost infallible. Child protection agencies were unclear about how to proceed in active files that had relied on Motherisk testing, so Ballantyne sought answers from SickKids.  “We were told all the way up the line that there was not a problem,” she said. “We believed it because they (the hospital) brought their experts in to prove (it) to us.” That changed in November 2014, when the ministry appointed Lang to conduct a review of five years’ of Motherisk testing. But it wasn’t until the following spring that the societies received clear direction from the government to stop relying on Motherisk tests. A Star investigation found the method Motherisk was using to test hair for drugs prior to 2010 was not considered by experts to be the “gold-standard test.” The Lang report, which expanded its scope from five years of hair testing to 10, confirmed this finding, and concluded Motherisk’s tests “fell woefully short of internationally recognized forensic standards.” Ballantyne’s reaction to the Lang report was, as she puts it, “Like, whoa. Clearly we didn’t have the whole story.” While she acknowledged “we are all learning” from the problems at Motherisk, she said too much blame has been placed on the societies. “One of the primary experts in the province of Ontario that put itself out there as having this expertise, in fact didn’t really have this expertise. That was a big part of the travesty,” she said. “SickKids does a lot of great work for children, but it this situation, they erred."

The entire story can be found at:


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.