Hamilton NDP MPP wants Ontario to extend Amber Alert


Published March 7, 2023 at 2:01 pm

Citing the death of a Hamilton grandmother just before last Christmas, local New Democrat MPP Monique Taylor is calling on the province to create a new alert for missing vulnerable persons.

Taylor represents the Hamilton Mountain riding, where 80-year-old Shirley Love was found dead last in the King’s Forest area last Dec. 16. Love had left her home three days earlier while not dressed for wintry weather. Some 300 community volunteers, along with units from Hamilton Police, searched the area for Love (pictured) before confirming the worst.

Earlier this week, Taylor, in her capacity as the Ontario NDP critic for Children, Community, and Social Services, tabled a bill that would create a new alert for missing vulnerable persons — those living with autism, Alzheimer’s, or dementia. Presently, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) can only issue an Amber Alert for an abducted child under the age of 17. The system sends a message to mobile phones of area residents.

“This bill fills an important gap in the current emergency alert system,” Taylor states. “It would ensure that the OPP are able to send targeted, regional alerts to help find vulnerable people when they go missing and make sure they get home safely. This is an important tool families can use to help find their loved ones in an unthinkable situation.”

Taylor also cited the death of 11-year-old Draven Graham in Lindsay, Ont., last spring. The boy, who had autism and limited verbal skills, drowned in the Scugog River. His body was recovered about 24 hours after being reported missing, according to police

Communities such as Brighton, Cobourg, Mississauga, Magnetawan, and Mattawa have passed resolutions calling for a new alert to be created.

Bills introduced by opposition MPPs at Queen’s Park require take-up from governing party, namely the Premier Doug Ford-led PC Party of Ontario.

One relatively recent success story with a private member’s bill focused on health and safety is Rowan’s Law, which made Ontario the first province to have brain injury-related laws related to youth sports. Ottawa-area MPP Lisa MacLeod, while the PCs were in opposition, introduced the bill and advocated for it after the 2013 death of high school rugby player Rowan Stringer, who was found to have had multiple undiagnosed brain injuries (commonly called “concussions”). The bill received unanimous consent when it was passed in June 2016.

Taylor added she is “confident” that she pitching a common-sense proposal to the premier in regard to a new alert.

“I am proud to put forward this bill and I hope that the Ford government will help us help make the system safer for vulnerable people across the province,” she stated.

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services is also responsible for the Ontario Autism Program. Around 60,000 children with autism are waiting for core service funding under the OAP, which is a more than 20-per-cent increase from how long the list was two governments ago under the Ontario Liberals.

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