• Something New in the Youth Protection Act
Feb 19, 2018

The enactment of Bill 99 to amend the Youth Protection Act (YPA) affects Native communities in particular, since one of the objectives of the bill is to foster the preservation of the cultural identity of Native people. January 1, 2018, saw the coming into force of section 81.1, a section concerning the participation of a person responsible for Native communities in the legal process.

Section 81.1

 

A person responsible for the youth protection services
of a Native community or, in the absence of such a person, the person
who assumes a role in child and family services in a Native community
may testify and make representations before the tribunal at the hearing
of any application concerning a Native child of that community and may,
for those purposes, be assisted by an advocate.

That person may not otherwise participate in the hearing, unless
the person has obtained the tribunal’s authorization to do so.

Except in the case of an application under section 47, the director must,
as soon as possible, inform the person responsible for the youth protection
services of a Native community or, in the absence of such a person,
the person who assumes a role in child and family services in a Native
community of the date, time and place of the hearing of any application
concerning a Native child of that community, of the subject of such an
application and of the person’s right to participate in the hearing to
the extent provided for in this section.


The section not only sets out the right of the person responsible for the youth protection services of a Native community to testify and make representations before the Court of Quebec, Youth Division, it also provides that the Director of Youth Protection must now inform such a person of any application concerning a Native child of his or her community, except in the case of an application under section 47 of the YPA. This section is aimed at making it easier to involve and include Native communities in the legal process. It is important to note that it applies to all children, whether or not they live in a community. Every community has submitted the name of a qualified person responsible for youth protection services or, in the absence of such a person, the person who assumes a role in child and family services in the community. For example, where there is no person responsible for youth protection services, it can be someone responsible for first-line services.

 

In codifying section 81.1, the government is responding to the demands of communities, who found that “provincial partners often directly intervene in situations with children and families, and fail to consult local and community resources before making decisions, in spite of the fact that such contacts have extensive knowledge of family circumstances.”[1] The person responsible for youth protection services in a Native community is the best placed to provide information about the culture and language and about what constitutes an environment capable of preserving a child’s cultural identity[2] That person is therefore able to inform the court of the resources available in the community that would foster the preservation of the child’s cultural identity.[3] Other sections of the YPA will come into force later by order of the government. The social services team of the FNQLHSSC will continue to follow up and analyze the impacts on First Nations communities.



[1] Consultation Process for the Reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program. Another Step Toward Self-Determination and Upholding the Rights of First Nations Children and Families, FNQLHSSC, 2017, p. 39.

[2] Brief of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay to the Committee on Health and Social Services of the National Assembly of Quebec on Bill 99 (2016), An Act to Amend the Youth Protection Act and Other Provisions, September 27, 2016, p. 11.

[3] Note to First Nations communities.