CORNWALL, Ont. - The response to allegations of child sexual abuse in eastern Ontario decades ago may seem deeply flawed with the benefit of hindsight but the problems of the past have largely been corrected, a Children's Aid Society lawyer told a public inquiry Wednesday.

"There were many things done or not done in the past that when you look at them today seem illogical and primitive," Michele Allinotte, representing the agency's local branch, told the Cornwall inquiry.

In the 1960s people didn't think that using seatbelts could save lives and were oblivious to the dangers of second-hand smoke, said Allinotte. Society has come a long way since then, and the Children's Aid Society is not an exception, she said.

"When viewed with today's eyes, some of the past actions of the CAS and other institutions seems deeply flawed, even shocking and ignorant," Allinotte said.

"(But) long before inquiry began, many of the problems discussed in evidence here had been addressed and corrected."

The Cornwall inquiry has spent three years and $40.8 million investigating institutional responses to sex abuse allegations decades ago.

The Children's Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry is just one of many institutions at the centre of the probe to tell the inquiry: that was then and this is now.

The inquiry has heard testimony from former Children's Aid Society wards that they were allegedly sexually abused at the time by caseworkers and foster parents.

Allinotte said there was no standard for child sex abuse investigations at the time, but the agency has since made many changes.

She highlighted several further recommendations made at the inquiry for changes to agency procedures, including that two workers be involved in all client relations and that a worker should not be allowed to investigate abuse claims in which they had a personal involvement.

While not the mandate of the inquiry, allegations of a pedophile ring operating in the city have been often discussed. A provincial police investigation dubbed Project Truth laid 114 charges against 15 people but found no evidence of such a ring. Only one person was ever convicted.

The Ministry of the Attorney General had come under fire for the perceived failed prosecutions.

On Tuesday, a lawyer for the ministry told the inquiry about changes the Crown attorney's office has since made. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services also said Tuesday that the ministry has since changed many policies.

Ontario Provincial Police were to present oral submissions Wednesday afternoon, and in written submissions the force echoes the Children's Aid Society sentiments that the agency today is a very different agency than it was at the time of Project Truth.