(This story was written before the Trasks left for Temagami to spend 10 days searching for any remains or artifacts of their son Daniel. See the update here: ) The Michigan Backcountry Search and Rescue group is conducting the search near Diamond Lake, and Lady Evelyn Lake.
A group of Waterloo parents is trying to take the handcuffs off police in their search for missing adults.
Maureen Trask’s son Daniel, 28 (at the time), went missing in the dense Tamagami wilderness in 2011 and was never found. Since then Trask has become an advocate for families of the missing. Currently there are a lot of road-blocks in locating missing people, making the job nearly impossible for police, according to Trask.
“We learned that it’s not that they’re not doing their job, it’s that they can’t do their job,” she told students at Centennial College in Toronto, Friday April 17. “Where there is no evidence of crime… they can’t get access to personal information, or locations.”
Even the families can’t go to the local hospital in the case of a missing adult, and ask “Is my son in this hospital?” she added.”They [the hospital] can’t give you that information…There is nothing legal that says they have to.”
Current privacy laws clog up a lot of pathways to information in regards to the missing, such as: phone records, medical records and banking records. The police have no immediate access to any of that information.
There are a number of provinces with legislation already, or currently trying to pass legislation that balances both the public’s safety and privacy, but Trask thinks Ontario should have done this long ago.
“Out west there are some good examples. If five other provinces and now Newfoundland and Labrador are working towards this legislation, why isn’t Ontario?” said Trask. “It is a shame that we have to kind of follow a lead there. We should lead, and that is where that legislation comes into play.”
Trask’s group, along with the help of Kitchener-Waterloo NDP MPP Catherine Fife, has proposed a piece of legislation to the provincial government. She is hoping for a Missing Persons Act to be enacted here. Fife’s office has been collecting signatures on the petition to bring the legislation forward.
Trask sees the legislation as a public service.
“What we want to do is open up the channels of communication… where police don’t have the capability to provide emotional support or informational support ot families,” said Trask. “I now have victim services (in Waterloo Region) engaged to tool a protocol to police, so when someone goes missing, victim services are informed and they can be the first point of contact for families.”
It will give families a centralized and organized support system, to help them with the moving parts in the process of finding their loved ones.