News Release

Coalition for Open Adoption Records

462 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 3T2

For Immediate Release.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Position Paper in Response to the Information & Privacy Commissioner's Opinion on Bill 183

Information & Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, indicated her displeasure with Bill 183, which if passed into law would become the Adoption Disclosure Information Act, presented for first reading on March 29, 2005 by Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Community and Social Services.

Dr. Cavoukian said that if this bill were passed:

COAR asserts that birth parents’ rights are severely compromised by the existing system which fails them. Presently in Ontario, birth parents are only allowed to register on the passive registry where their names often linger for many years while they wait in despair.

The experience of other provinces show that disclosure vetoes, whether applied against birth parents or adopted adults, are very hurtful, punitive, prevent medical information from being transmitted, and are often confusing. The adoption community does not support disclosure vetoes. Evidence in other jurisdictions suggests that contact vetoes are effective and successfully protect the privacy of the people concerned. No jurisdiction has reported the need to modify the contact veto in order to improve its effectiveness. In fact, jurisdictions without any vetoes at all report no serious problems implementing their legislation. The adoption community accepted and welcomed the changes.

Dr. Cavoukian cites out-dated information from a New South Wales Law Reform Commission report (Australia) which was done in 1992, thirteen years ago. The NSW Adoption Act 2000 was based on a subsequent Commission report in 1997. Neither of these reports recommended a disclosure veto. In fact, the 1992 report discusses the unexpected high compliance with the contact veto. We believe that it is inappropriate for Dr. Cavoukian to cite an old report that has clearly outlived its use -- it was never implemented -- and to misrepresent this report to support her claim for the need for a disclosure veto in Ontario.

From all reports, adoption disclosure in New South Wales, after 2000, is working well. The NSW Government and the adoption community are happy with this legislation.

The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Child and Family Services Act which Ms. Pupatello's bill would amend is exempt from FIPPA. COAR does not support the Information and Privacy Commissioner's opinions on a bill which is outside of her mandate.

COAR is an organization representing adopted adults, birth families and adoptive parents. Our position has been endorsed by the Canadian Council of Natural Mothers, Parent Finders Canada, the Adoption Council of Ontario, the Adoption Council of Canada, Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and Adoption Support and Kinship. We attempted to arrange a meeting with Dr. Cavoukian to discuss with her our concerns prior to the introduction of Bill 183, yet she declined to meet with us. We regret her decision to not speak with us in light of her attempts to speak for the mothers among us.

We support Bill 183 in principle and are very pleased with Premier Dalton McGuinty's and Minister Sandra Pupatello's support of our community in bringing this bill forward.

For further information contact:

COAR Coordinating Committee
Michael Grand, PhD, C.Psych    Karen Lynn    Wendy Rowney
grand@psy.uoguelph.ca ccnm@rogers.com wrowney@hotmail.com
(519) 823-1738 (416) 537-4486 (416) 545-0912


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Page last updated: April 1, 2005 1