OACAS Wants More Power for Children's Aid
March 14, 2005
The OACAS has released its Proposed Child and Family Services Act
Amendments (pdf file). As expected, they include
many provisions expanding the powers of Children's
- A child is now anyone under age 18. This should
eliminate the habit of crown wards returning to
their natural families at age 16.
- The term "crown ward" is changed to "permanent
ward". This is no real change, just an attempt to
eliminate a term that has become ugly.
- Warrants will no longer be necessary to enter a
private place for purposes of removing children.
Forget a half a millennium of common law protections
against the police.
- The penalty for not snitching is to increase from
$1000 to $5000.
- In a concession to the realities of foster care,
protection orders now end with the death of the
child. This may be some help to parents who wish to
sue for wrongful death.
- A provision allowing Children's Aid to assist a
family by placing a homemaker with the family to
help care for the children is to be eliminated.
- Complaints within Children's Aid need no longer be
heard by the board of directors.
- The Child Abuse Register and Child Abuse Review
Teams are to be eliminated. Information may now be
shared between Children's Aid Societies without
parental consent, eliminating the need for the
register. The Child Abuse Register was eliminated
by the 1999 legislation, but that section was not
proclaimed into law.
- A set of somewhat technical sounding changes further
erodes the standards for "evidence" used in court
proceedings against a family.
Some provisions expand the reasons for taking a child
away from his parents:
- Corporal Punishment. The criminal code, and the
Supreme Court of Canada, explicitly permit parents
to engage in corporal punishment. Now, it will be
forbidden with the CFSA. So parents will not go to
jail for spanking, they will just lose their
- Domestic Violence. When mom and dad have a squabble
(as slight as raised voices), the children will go
into foster care.
- Significant Alcohol and/or Drug Usage. This seems
to be directed toward marijuana and cocaine. But
curiously, the word drug in the wording may let CAS
take kids from diabetics, while a clever lawyer may
argue that Cannabis sativa is an herb, not a drug.
- Exposure to Pornography. Is it best to shield
children from sex, or teach them at the earliest
possible age? This used to be a matter for parental
discretion, but no longer. Anything that could be
deemed pornographic is grounds for child removal.
And with the definition of a child expanded to age
18, any teenaged boy with a copy of Playboy could
get all his younger siblings removed to foster
There is one set of provisions that seem to be
genuine reform. When an adopted child is issued a birth
certificate, it will identify the connection between
parent and child as adoption, rather than as at present,
suggest that the adoptive parents are the birth parents.
The legislation does not give the child the right to see
his original birth certificate, even after the child
reaches the age of majority.
Another reform lets a person see his own records.
This includes the ability of adult children to look at
their records, and the right of parents to examine the
records of their children. The OACAS seems to be
responding to a lot of criticism with these suggestions.
It remains to be seen whether foot-dragging will nullify