Speaker Profiles

Irwin Elman

Irwin Elman

Former Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

In October 2007, the Ontario Child Advocate (the Advocate’s Office) was established with the passage of Bill 165 by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. On July 14th, 2008, an all-party panel appointed Irwin Elman as the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth to provide leadership to the Advocate’s Office – the first independent office of its kind in Ontario – to amplify the voices of children and youth in its mandate.

Until April 30, 2019, the Advocate’s Office worked to make sure young people knew their rights, their opinions were taken into account in matters that concerned them and their voices were heard. The Office’s advocacy aimed to ensure young people were at the centre of all services provided to them and decisions made about them.

Drawing on the strength of young people, the Advocate’s Office worked to fill the gap between what government, service providers and policy-makers intend, and the reality experienced by some of the most vulnerable children and youth in Ontario.

Irwin brings an extensive background as an educator, counsellor, youth worker, program manager, policy developer and child and youth advocate to the position –borrowing from the courage and hope of the young people he served to create innovative approaches for others in Ontario, Jamaica, Hungary and Japan. Prior to becoming the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, Irwin was the Manager of the Pape Adolescent Resource Centre in Toronto (PARC), an award-winning organization that supports young people as they leave child welfare care, for more than 20 years. He later served as the Director of Client Service at Central Toronto Youth Services, a children’s mental health centre.

Irwin obtained his Master of Education and Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Honours) in political science from Carleton University. He received an Honorary Degree from Guelph-Humber University.

Recently Irwin received the “Janus Korczak Award” from the Janus Korczak Association of Canada. He was made an “Honorary Member” of the Canadian Pediatric Society. He received the “Advocate of the Year” from the North American Adoption Council. He was awarded the “Stand Up For Kids Award” by the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

Irwin currently resides in Toronto with his wife and two young sons.

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