Law Times has two stories this week focused on issues related to child welfare. In one, Ontario Superior Court Justice Grant Campbell found two lawyers provided incompetent counsel while representing parents in a family law case that he said shows the poor state of the child welfare system in Canada.
“The child welfare system in Ontario is broken. The patchwork of child welfare legislation spread across Canada is not working,” Campbell said in his ruling. This is no earth-shattering revelation. In December 2016, Bill 89: Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act 2016 was introduced in Ontario. Lawyers are welcoming the update of laws affecting children in need.
But legislating to protect vulnerable children is a tricky task.
As a reporter who spoke to many child welfare workers and officials, as well as adults who suffered deeply damaging treatment as children in care, I heard many repeat the same principle — children should always remain with their families and in their communities where possible. That is why I hope legislators, child welfare officials and the lawyers that act for them listen carefully to lawyer Jessica Gagné.
“I personally feel that certain societies are much quicker to go to court without any attempt to support the parents,” she says. “I often think, ‘Why was this option one?’ It’s very common and I am slightly pessimistic that that will change.” Child welfare means investing in family welfare and community welfare.
“One only need glance at any newspaper or T.V. news report to recognize that the present systems in place designed to protect Canada’s children is failing the most vulnerable of our population,” said Campbell.
“We have had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and now the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women enquiry to try to retrospectively figure out how we as a society have failed our indigenous citizens.” He’s right.