Missing in Inaction: Misty’s Story

  • May 02, 2023
  • Laura Pettigrew

On April 13, 2023, the Ontario Ombudsman released his report “Missing in Inaction: Misty’s Story,” which describes how multiple child welfare organizations failed to ensure the safety of a vulnerable 13-year-old Indigenous girl. The investigation focused on a 47-day period during which Misty went missing seven times, in one case for 19 days, while she was in the care of Johnson Children’s Services Inc. (“Johnson”), a foster care agency in Southwestern Ontario.

In his report, the Ombudsman notes that Misty lives with mental health challenges, has had a history of substance use, and is suspected of being a victim of sex trafficking. When she went missing, she experienced physical and sexual assault, used hard drugs, and suffered an overdose.

The Ombudsman finds that Johnson, an agency with a checkered compliance history, failed to provide the 1-to-1 support for Misty that it received payment to deliver. It also neglected to follow its own protocols related to missing children, repeatedly minimized safety concerns when dealing with police, and in one instance, delayed notifying police for more than four hours after Misty had disappeared. In addition, the Ombudsman identifies a litany of other issues with Johnson’s conduct, from failing to report serious occurrences to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and serious bodily harm to his Office to poor record-keeping and training practices.