Ontario Ministry of Health reverses course on guardianship requirement for disabled woman
A woman with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities, who was granted custody in 2002 under the Ontario guardianship regime, has asked the province’s Ministry of Health to reconsider its decision.
The woman, who has not been publicly named, said she wants to continue to live as a single adult in her own home.
This week, the Ministry of Health announced it will reverse a decision last August, that requires the woman to retain a legal guardian in order to be granted custody of her children.
The proposed new rule, according to ministry documents obtained by the Star, would reverse the requirement of an appropriate person to act as guardian in cases where the family member’s ability to act as guardian is seriously impaired.
The Star has learned a woman, who is identified only as “Jane Doe” in court documents, remains unable to provide care for her three young daughters.
Two years ago, the woman, who has intellectual and developmental disabilities, was awarded custody – along with joint custody of two of her daughters – after she was charged with sexually abusing her oldest daughter.
In May, shortly after the Ministry of Health first applied the proposed rule to protect children from abuse, the woman received a full hearing to determine whether to remain in joint custody of her children or request custody under the current regime.
During the hearing, the former judge found the woman should remain in joint custody of the girls, but that the mother’s ability to provide for her children was seriously impaired.
In August, the Ministry of Health requested that a senior government solicitor review the recommendation. The Ministry is to present a revised recommendation on Nov. 21.
The woman is currently unable to live independently as a single adult outside of residential care facilities. She remains legally the children’s primary caregiver, but cannot live with her children on a daily basis.
A public consultation process, prompted by the Ministry of Health’s request to re-visit its recommendation, is under way.
The Ministry of Health made the recommendation in response to new and emerging evidence that suggests a requirement to have a guardian in cases of serious