McNeil government needs to address concerns with Children and Family Services bill

November 30, 2015

The McNeil government needs to ensure the concerns of legal aid lawyers, social workers, and First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities are addressed before moving ahead with amendments to the Children and Family Service Act, says NDP MLA Marian Mancini.

Today she will introduce a motion at the Law Amendments Committee to provide the public with more time to review amendments and consult with government before Bill 112 is returned to the Legislature.

Sharon Cochrane of the King’s County Barristers’ Society is also concerned about the lack of consultation.

“The Children and Family Services Act is the most invasive piece of legislation a society can have. It gives the government the power to take away a parent’s child,” says Cochrane. “This is a complex and important document and any changes deserve more consideration than is being given by this government.”

Rollie Thompson, QC, a Professor of Law at Dalhousie University says new amendments released by the Liberal government today raise more problems. “There has been no further consultation by the Department with those who presented at Law Amendments two weeks ago, so these amendments today are totally new. This is the second set of changes to Bill 112 since it was introduced. There are serious problems with these latest changes, and Bill 112 should not become law without more careful consultation with the broader community.”

Mancini says that experts on the front lines are worried that Bill 112, as it currently stands, will lead to more children being placed under provincial care at a time when the McNeil government has cut $8.5 million in funding to Child, Youth and Family Support Services.

“Every step needs to be taken to ensure at-risk families and children receive the proper care and support,” says Mancini. “At the moment there are significant concerns being raised about the impact this legislation could have, and so it’s imperative that the government take every step necessary to get it right. The fact that key stakeholders are saying they haven’t been properly consulted is extremely worrisome.”