From PEI in Alberta, a child forced to live with a father he does not know

PEI Child Protective Services. are strongly criticized in a Supreme Court decision in a legal custody case.

Its former director Wendy McCourt is also referred to in the decision. Mrs McCourt has since retired and has not agreed to an interview.

Between P.E.I. and Alberta

The parents, who lived in Alberta, had a tumultuous relationship. After a brief marriage, the mother returned to live in Prince Edward Island, following an allegation of domestic abuse. She did not tell the father that she was pregnant.

The child’s mother moved to Prince Edward Island in 2013.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Serge Clavet

The child was born in October 2013 and the mother was struggling to care for him due to mental health issues. The maternal grandmother moved in with her to help care for the boy.

But in February 2019, the Director of Child Protective Services, Wendy McCourt notified the father that he had a child and the latter began the process of obtaining custody.

The grandmother for her part argued that she had formed a bond with the child and that he should continue to live with her in Prince Edward Island where other members of his maternal family lived.

A court even granted the grandmother legal status as a parent in July 2019, despite Ms. McCourt. Meanwhile, the father continued his custody battle.

A first decision reversed

PEI Supreme Court Justice Nancy L. Key made a decision in 2020 giving custody of the child to the grandmother.

The presiding judge ruled that the grandmother would foster the child’s relationship with the father and his family, but unless the court ordered him to do so, the father would not would not ensure that the child has a meaningful relationship with his or her family in Prince Edward Islandreads the decision of the Federal Supreme Court.

Some drawings made by the child before leaving for the holiday camp in August 2019.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Wayne Thibodeau

But the appeals court reversed Judge Key’s decision and sided in favor of the father. The Supreme Court restored Justice Key’s decision, but despite everything, the child has still lived with his father in Alberta for two years.

The Supreme Court strongly criticizes the decision of the Director of Child Protective Services to send the little one to Alberta and to remove the grandmother’s custody of the child without notice.

[Il] left his grandmother’s house to go to the camp as usual, but he was apprehended by the Headmistress who never allowed him to return home. »

A quote from Excerpt from BJT c. J.D.

The child was placed in an unknown foster family and four weeks later the child was sent to Alberta.

Director’s impartiality questioned

The Supreme Court questioned the impartiality of the Director of Child Protective Services, stating that she had taken a series of decisions with a view to [faire pencher la balance] in favor of the father.

Wendy McCourt was Director of Child Protective Services at the events.

Photo: Government of Prince Edward Island

It indicates that the decision to place the child in a first foster family was taken for unconvincing reasons. The father’s plan to care for the child was also approved before he even met his boy, despite significant progress made while he was in the care of his grandmother.

Child Protective Services under the microscope

According to the law professor at Dalhousie University, Rollie Thompsonthe ministry needs to reflect.

People should carefully consider the actions in this case, and other cases of the[ancienne] director of child protectionhe believes.

In this case, the director took the child from the custody of his maternal grandmother and placed him with his biological father who had no real – in fact no – relationship with the child, and they weighed in the balance to favor the biological father against the maternal grandmothernotes Mr. Thompson.

Child Protective Services officials would not comment on a specific case, but in an email say the cases and families we work with have many levels of complexity and our employees do not make decisions lightly.

Rollie Thompson frowns when told that the province does not want to comment for reasons of confidentiality.

It’s not about what the parents did, but it’s about what the Director of Child Protective Services did. They are accountable to the courts, to the public and to elected officials.believes Mr. Thompson.

After retirement from Wendy McCourt, Kelly Peck took the reins as director of child protection in January 2021.

The ministry declined to say whether any disciplinary action was taken against the former director before her departure.

Based on a report by CBC’s Wayne Thibodeau

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