On Thursday, February 9, 2017, I had the opportunity to call Marian Mlakar, Director of Children and Youth at Risk department under the Policy Development and Program Design department. She reports to ADM Jennifer Morris who reports to the Deputy Minister Nancy Matthews who reports to Parliamentary Assistant Sophie Kiwala who reports to Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services Ontario. http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/about/orgchart.aspx This phone call happened due to my follow-up letter questioning the status of our provincial strategy and Ms. Mlakar wanted to speak to me directly.
The phone call lasted about ten minutes and the following information was shared.
Ms. Mlakar stated the policy development and program design for FASD support is complete. It is currently with the Minister who has placed it in the queue for provincial funding. She also stated this project is her main project and is following it very closely. She is hopeful that the province will be making an announcement soon regarding the project. However, she also stated the province has several pressing issues and isn’t sure how high a priority FASD support is to the province. She also made reference to the fact that the four people above her on the org chart are all new to their positions and that she is currently reminding them of the pressing need for this strategy.
She also stated the policy and program design is based entirely on the provincial report released in Sept 2015. www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/.../fasd/FASD_Roundtable_Report.pdf
She also stated that they have seen a slight increase in public queries over the status of the strategy. Finally, she stated once the program design has received funding, it will immediately begin to be implemented on a full scale across the province.
Because she is not an elected member of the Ministry nor in communications or public relations, she needed to be careful about what she could share with me. However, it was very clear that the only thing holding up provincial support is a current lack of funding. Combine that with the fact that the individuals who should be advocating for that funding are all new to their positions, it is very clear to me we need to continue contacting Michael Coteau, MP and Sophie Kiwala, Parliamentary Assistant of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance and Kathleen Wynne, Premier to make sure they understand how important it is that the FASD program receive funding now.