Mixed reaction over Quebec’s proposed youth protection reform

The Quebec government, following up on a report that cast a critical eye on the province’s youth protection system, has tabled a proposed legislative reform that underlines and clarifies the notion of the best interests of the child as well as introduces new provisions to take into account the historical, social and cultural factors of Indigenous people.

The reform will also relax strict confidentiality provisions that have hampered communication between frontline workers and other healthcare professionals, reaffirms that children must be represented by an advocate, and entrusts the newly created position of National Director of Youth Protection with the responsibility of determining policy directions and practice standards, buttressed with the power to implement “corrective” measures.

But the proposed reforms of Bill 15, An Act to amend the Youth Protection Act and other legislative provisions, will be ineffectual and be unable to deal with systemic-wide issues unless more monies are poured into the system, more experienced staff are hired, working conditions improved, and a cultural change takes place among legal actors, according to family law experts.

“What is important is not in the bill,” remarked Michel Tétrault, a family law expert who has penned numerous books about Quebec family. “What is important is the financial resources, human resources, and a change of culture. And that is not in the law. What will make this law work is money, personnel and a change of culture. If we miss one of the three, it will remain as is.”

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This story was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily.

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