Justice With Dignity - Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers

Kimberly Rogers Inquest Alerts

Kimberly Rogers Inquest - Thurs., Nov. 21, 2002 - Day 23
Ontario Social Safety NetWork (OSSN) Summary

Ian Morrison, until recently the Executive Director of the Legal Aid Ontario Clinic Resource Office, was called to the stand by the OSSN/SCSA. The Coroner ruled that Mr. Morrison was qualified to give evidence about welfare law, policy and administration of the system, and (after some argument) about delivery issues as they relate to his own experience. He can express opinions on potential recommendations, but cannot be asked hypothetical questions on circumstances similar to those involved in Ms. Rogers’ case as that might be construed as finding fault.

Mr. Morrison began explaining the basics of the OW Act and ODSP Act, including the purpose of OW (to move people quickly through the system into a job) in contrast to the purpose of the former General Welfare Act (to provide assistance to those in need). He reviewed the two stage application process in which a person must apply by telephone before getting an in person application. He attempted to show how a person can be found ineligible when the call centre reaches a “conclusion”, and how complicated it is for a person to object, both orally and in writing, and insist on a full application before they can appeal.

The method of calculating the welfare allowance, and the definition of income and assets were briefly reviewed. He stated that no account is taken in the rates of the cost of living, and that the government set the simply by taking the average of all other provinces’ rates and making Ontario’s 10% higher. When asked what research the government has done into how the rates relate to actual shelter, food and other costs, Morrison replied none. Other organizations and municipalities have done so, and found that they do not cover average actual shelter costs, nutritious food baskets and the other bare necessities of life.

There were a number of interruptions to Morrison’s evidence for submissions and rulings on admissibility. It was pointed out that since the Coroner had not called an expert on the welfare system from the Ministry, it was important for someone to explain the basics of the system and to put the various bits of evidence that have already been given as they came up in the circumstances of Ms. Rogers’ life, into a larger context.

During some of the numerous breaks in the testimony, opinions were informally expressed by observers, the press and even by various opposing counsel, to the effect that no one can really understand the Coroner’s rulings. Because of all the interruptions only a small start was made in Mr. Morrison’s testimony; he will go back on the stand tomorrow.

As well, the Sudbury medical officer of health is scheduled for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in Toronto at Divisional Court, the judicial review application by the coalition of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, NAPO, LEAF and NAWL, was argued today before a three justice panel. The Coalition is challenging the ruling which drastically limits the areas their expert witnesses can give evidence about. The hearing will be concluded tomorrow, but it is not known whether the panel will render their decision immediately.

Nancy Vander Plaats
Ontario Social Safety Network (OSSN)



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