Outrage is too weak a word to describe The Ruxted Group’s reaction to the attitude and words of Mary Anne Chambers, Ontario's Minister of Children and Youth Services. Ms. Chamers is quoted, in the 1 Mar 07 edition of the Globe and Mail, as saying, that unacceptably long wait times for psychotherapy for CFB Petawawa area children whose parents are serving in Afghanistan are “a direct consequence of federal government initiatives.” In other words: this is a federal Tory war so we, provincial Liberals, will delay health service for Ontario children – the children of Ontario taxpayers – for partisan political reasons.
How can Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty countenance his government's callous view of innocent children as mere collateral damage in partisan political wars, where the sons and daughters of soldiers are nothing more than fodder for the Liberal party’s political cannons? Vigorous, heated political debate – even between different levels of government – is part and parcel of a healthy democracy. Ms. Chambers has a right to speak out against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his prosecution of the war into which a previous Liberal government placed our soldiers. What she does not have a right to do is to conscript traumatized seven and eight year olds into her partisan campaign.
It is unconscionable that Ontario’s children are being abused in this manner by the very Minister most directly mandated to ensure their wellbeing. It must stop. Despite the efforts of small minded, ward-heeling politicians, this is Canada, not Taliban Afghanistan; we do not use children as human shields, even in political debates.
Health care is a provincial responsibility. Ontario's Children and Youth Services Ministry needs a new minister who knows what "responsibility" means; Ms. Chambers' replacement needs to obtain the additional resources required to adequately fund the Renfrew County’s Phoenix Centre for Children and Families. Serving Canadian Forces' members pay into the Ontario health care system, despite being denied its services, to ensure medical coverage for their families. Ensuring funding of the Phoenix Centre would permit all of the children and families in the area – not just military families – to receive timely service from their Ontario government.
Perhaps the Government of Ontario would do well to remember that it is denying those minor children their rightful, provincially mandated, mental healthcare access based not upon the children's best interests, but rather upon its own political posturing and grandstanding. Innocent children suffer. For shame.
The Ruxted Group demands that Premier McGuinty do the right thing and dismiss Ms. Chambers from his cabinet, forthwith.