What is the Purpose of the Commission?
In 2015, the Ontario government asked the Honourable Justice Susan Lang to conduct an Independent Review of the methodology and science used by the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory (“MDTL”) when conducting hair strand testing for drugs and alcohol. Justice Lang found that the testing conducted by the “MDTL” was unreliable for use in court cases. She also recommended that a second review be implemented to examine individual cases affected by the hair testing conducted by the “MDTL”. Read more about Justice Susan Lang’s report.
The Government of Ontario, through Order in Council, established the Motherisk Commission on January 15, 2016 and appointed Justice Judith Beaman as Commissioner. Read the Order in Council.
What is the mandate of the Commission?
The mandate of the Commission was established by Order in Council on January 15, 2016. As a major part of its mandate, the Commission established and is leading a Review and Resource Centre to conduct legal reviews of individual cases and to provide support for affected persons. Read more about the Commission’s mandate.
The Review and Resource Centre is engaging in the following work:
- Identifying and reviewing child protection cases identified as “high priority” – cases that remain open at an Ontario child protection agency and where the child has not yet been placed for adoption;
- Reviewing all individual child protection case where a request is made by a member of the public who may have been affected by hair testing done by the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory (“MDTL”);
- Offering support and assistance to families affected by flawed hair strand testing;
- Engaging with parties and stakeholders who would have an interest in the effective operation of the Review and Resource Centre and the completion of the Commission’s mandate.
The Commission recognizes that unreliable hair testing by the “MDTL” affected entire families, not only the parent or child who may have had their hair tested. In such cases, the Review and Resource Centre offers support to* all* parents, children, young adults, siblings and adoptive parents involved in past child protection proceedings.
Our Fundamental Principles
In fulfilling its mandate to establish and lead a Review and Resource Centre, the Commission is guided by the fundamental principles set out in its Order in Council. These principles include:
- Taking into account the current best interests of any affected children and youth;
- Ensuring the confidentiality of records relating to files reviewed;
- Efficiently completing its mandate in a manner consistent with the need to pursue an expeditious and just resolution of the serious concerns associated with reliance on evidence from the Motherisk Drug Testing Laboratory (“MDTL”) in child protection proceedings
- Working with children and youth to ensure that their voices are heard; and
- Engaging in outreach to affected communities and individuals, in order to ensure that our process allows for meaningful participation by Indigenous and racialized communities.
The Commission is acutely aware that the problems created by reliance on evidence from the “MDTL” have created serious problems for children, birth families, and adoptive families. The Commission is committed to provide appropriate assistance to affected persons, having regard to the fundamental principles stated above.