Review of Quebec’s youth protection law to prioritize the well-being and stability of the child

Keeping an abandoned or abused child within your biological family is no longer a top priority.

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The well-being of the child will, in principle, be at the center of Bill 15, a proposed revision of Quebec’s youth protection regulations presented Wednesday by the minister of health and social services Lionel Carmant.

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And among the changes is the recognition that keeping an abandoned or abused child within their biological family at all costs is no longer a top priority.

Ensuring that the child receives a stable environment as quickly as possible will be a government priority, nullifying the principle of parental primacy when social workers or judges must decide the fate of children who need a stable living environment.

Quebec Prime Minister François Legault described the introduction of the bill as a historic moment.

Reforms to Bill 15 have been promised for months by the government and follow the tragic 2019 death of a girl in Granby who was subjected to repeated abuse despite being monitored by the child protection authorities in the Directeur of the protection of the jeunesse.

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They also follow the presentation of a report on the DPJ containing 60 recommendations calling for the well-being of the child to be placed at the center of all decisions.

Current legislation requires that “any decision made under this law must aim to keep the child in their family environment.” The revised version of Bill 15 will now stipulate that “keeping the child in his family environment should be a priority provided it is in the interest of that child.”

If it is not considered possible to keep the child in his immediate family environment, an alternative is to place the child with people considered “important”, such as grandparents or members of an extended family. However, if that is not possible either, the authorities must offer the child an environment “that is closer to that of a family environment”.

The number of cases opened by the DPJ continues to rise, with 118,000 filed last year.

The proposed amendments also aim to relax confidentiality rules by allowing personal information about a child’s situation to be more easily shared by authorities.

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