Children's Aid Societies to end hair drug testing
Published Friday, May 8, 2015 6:12PM EDT
It was a method to ensure parents struggling with drugs and alcohol were staying clean and sober, but controversy over hair testing has prompted the province to end the practice.
Greg Nixon of Substance Management of Abuse And Required Testing (SMAART) believes what those strands of hair might have to say is important.
But now Children Aid Societies can't use that information.
"And that, to me, is scary. You're looking at thousands of children across the province now that are at risk," says Nixon.
As hair grows, it reveals a person's activities, holding evidence of alcohol and drug use that can be traced back months.
SMAART is a company that collects and processes samples for drug and alcohol testing.
Nixon admits work for child protection services across the province made up a large part of his business.
In late April the provincial government ordered a halt to the use of hair samples for testing, the result of a controversy over a lab called Motherisk at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital.
But Nixon says that was one lab with flawed analysis and he insists hair testing is still accurate and valuable.
"Just because a lab is defective, don't wash everyone with the same brush," says Nixon.
The London and Middlesex Children's Aid Society say its never relied heavily on drug testing.
It relies more on in-home evaluations done by social workers.
"We're encouraging social workers to go in the morning and see if families are up, see if they're functioning, see if parents are awake, see if breakfast is served. We're encouraging our workers to develop a relationship to allows for people to really tell them what's going on in their life," says Colleen Innes, CAS supervisor.
Innes doesn't believe the hair test moratorium puts more children at risk or will unfairly impact parents.
She says there are other tests being used and courts can order a hair test be done if they think it's required.