Parents in Quebec are expressing their concern over a recently passed child protection bill which allows the state to override the principle of parental primacy and natural ties.
Bill 15 was first introduced by Quebec’s health minister Lionel Carmant in December 2021. It was adopted unanimously last Thursday in the Canadian provinces’ National Assembly: 115 votes in favor and none against.
According to Canada’s CTV news, the new law aims at “prioritizing the interests of children over all other considerations, including the interests of the parents,” and brings a number of changes to youth protection regulations in Quebec with a view to facilitating the placing of children in foster homes in alleged cases of neglect or abuse.
Quebec’s Youth Protection Act (1977) had hitherto recognised that the state should “tend to maintain” a child at risk “in his or her family environment.” This was the principle of parental primacy, that is, that parents have the primary responsibility of their children.
If it were impossible, or not in their best interests, for children to stay in their family homes, then the child protection authorities sought to place the children with members of their own extended families. Only after that avenue had failed would children be placed in foster homes.
Mainstream Canadian news outlets have described the new law as an “acknowledgment that keeping a neglected or abused child within their biological family at all costs” should no longer be “an absolute priority,” and that “ensuring the child is provided with a stable environment as quickly as possible” should be “the government’s priority.”
Judges and social workers will therefore be able to disregard the principal of parental primacy when making their decisions about the fate of a child.
Another change brought about by the new law is an easing of confidentiality rules regarding children’s personal information; this will now be more easily passed along and shared among authorities and caregivers.
Although the law was met with virtually no opposition at the National Assembly, some parents in Quebec have been waving red flags since its introduction as a bill.
Some argue that the overriding of parental primacy could set a dangerous precedent and give the state too much power over children.
“At first sight, the amendment to the law on youth protection appears just for the child,” wrote blogger Mel Goyer in a December article about the bill.
Quebec Extends Mask Mandate Until at Least the Middle of May Now
Initially, the Quebec government said the mask mandate would be over by April 14. However, health officials decided to prolong the requirement until April 30.
Now, the mandate has been extended to mid-May.
Luc Boileau, the province’s interim public health director, announced the decision on Thursday (April 21) during a news conference. This time the government is citing a “sixth wave” of COVID-19 as the reason for the extension.
The mandate is in effect for all public places, including public transportation and in stores.