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BILL NO. 11





Government Bill




4th Session, 56th General Assembly
Nova Scotia
45 Elizabeth II, 1996




An Act to Amend Chapter 5

of the Acts of 1990,

the Children and Family Services Act





The Honourable James A. Smith, M.D.
Minister of Community Services




Halifax
Printed by Queen's Printer for Nova Scotia







Explanatory Notes

Clause 1 provides that a child is in need of protective services where there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer physical harm by being exposed to chronic and serious neglect.

Clauses 2, 3 and 4 extend the time for bringing a prosecution from one year to two years where a person who has information indicating that a child is in need of protective services or is suffering abuse fails to report that information as required by the Act.

Clause 5 ensures that the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services of Nova Scotia receives notice in the same manner as a party to the proceeding when the proceeding involves an Indian child.

Clauses 6 and 7 preclude the possibility that access to a child could be granted by the court where a child has been placed for adoption.

At present, the Supreme Court must hear an appeal within 90 days after the notice of appeal is filed. Clause 8 enables the Court to extend that period for a further period, not to exceed 60 days, where the Court deems it appropriate.

Clause 9

(a) provides for better access to information in the Child Abuse Register for the purpose of investigating whether or not a child is in need of protective services; and

(b) enables the police to obtain information from the Child Abuse Register.

Clause 10 provides that the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services receives notice in respect of an adoption relating to an Indian child.

Clause 11 provides that a child-placing agency may place a child for the purpose of adoption with a person approved by an agency and chosen by the birth parents and provides for the terms and conditions upon which such an adoption may proceed. Clause 12 sets out the situations in which a child may be placed or received for the purpose of adoption.

Clause 13 provides that a person who had physical care and control of a child for at least 24 months may file a notice of adoption in certain circumstances.

Clause 14 shortens the time period for giving notice to the Minister of a proposed adoption from six months to one month where it is a step-parent adoption.

Clause 15 corrects a cross-reference.

Clause 16 provides that an application for adoption can be made anywhere in the Province to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

Clause 17 provides that Clauses 11, 12 and 13 come into force on proclamation.

An Act to Amend Chapter 5

of the Acts of 1990,

the Children and Family Services Act

Be it enacted by the Governor and Assembly as follows:

1 Subsection 22(2) of Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1990, the Children and Family Services Act, is amended by adding immediately after clause (j) the following clause:

(ja) there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer physical harm inflicted or caused as described in clause (j);

2 Subsection 23(4) of Chapter 5 is amended by striking out "one year" in the second line and substituting "two years".

3 Subsection 24(7) of Chapter 5 is amended by striking out "one year" in the second line and substituting "two years".

4 Subsection 25(4) of Chapter 5 is amended by striking out "one year" in the second line and substituting "two years".

5 Subsection 36(3) of Chapter 5 is repealed and the following subsection substituted:

(3) Where the child who is the subject of a proceeding is known to be Indian or may be Indian, the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services of Nova Scotia shall receive notice in the same manner as a party to the proceedings and may, with its consent, be substituted for the agency that commenced the proceeding.

6 Section 47 of Chapter 5 is amended by adding immediately after subsection (3) the following subsection:

(3A) Where the child has been placed and is residing in the home of a person who has given notice of proposed adoption by filing the notice with the Minister, no application for an order granting access may be made during the continuance of the adoption placement until

(a) an application for adoption is made and the application is dismissed, discontinued or unduly delayed; or

(b) there is an undue delay in the making of an application for adoption.

7 Subsection 48(4) of Chapter 5 is repealed and the following subsection substituted:

(4) Where the child has been placed and is residing in the home of a person who has given notice of proposed adoption by filing the notice with the Minister, no application to terminate an order for permanent care and custody may be made during the continuance of the adoption placement until

(a) the application for adoption is made and the application is dismissed, discontinued or unduly delayed; or

(b) there is an undue delay in the making of an application for adoption.

8 Subsection 49(4) of Chapter 5 is amended by adding "or such longer period of time, not to exceed sixty days, as the Court deems appropriate" immediately after "appeal" in the last line.

9 Clause 66(3)(a) of Chapter 5 is repealed and the following clauses substituted:

(a) disclosed to an agency, including any corporation, society, federal, provincial, municipal or foreign state, government department, board or agency authorized or mandated to investigate whether or not a child is in need of protective services;

(aa) disclosed to the police by an agency where the police and the agency are conducting a joint child abuse investigation;

10 Section 68 of Chapter 5 is amended by adding immediately after subsection (10) the following subsections:

(11) Where an agency other than the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services has reason to believe that a child who is to be the subject of an adoption agreement is or may be an Indian child, the agency shall not enter into an adoption agreement respecting the child until fifteen days after the agency has notified the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services.

(12) Where, subsequent to the execution of an adoption agreement and prior to the placement for adoption of the child who is the subject of the adoption agreement, the agency determines that the child is or may be an Indian child, the agency shall, as soon as possible, notify the Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services and shall not place the child for adoption until fifteen days have elapsed from the date of such notification.

11 Chapter 5 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 68 the following Section:

68A (1) Where every parent of a child has entered into an adoption agreement pursuant to Section 68 and all such parents have also requested, in writing, that the child be placed with a specified person, the child-placing agency may place the child for the purpose of adoption with the specified person if

(a) the specified person has been approved by the child-placing agency as an approved adoption home;

(b) where the child is an infant under one year of age, the specified person has been known to the mother or father of the child prior to the mother becoming pregnant with the child or, where the child is one year of age or older, the specified person has been known to the mother or father of the child for more than two years prior to placement of the child for adoption; and

(c) the child-placing agency is satisfied that adoption of the child by the specified person is in the best interests of the child.

(2) An adoption agreement entered into for the purpose of permitting a child to be placed with a specified person in accordance with subsection (1) is subject to Section 68.

(3) Where a child is in the care of a child-placing agency pending placement with a specified person and the child-placing agency determines that placement of the child with the specified person cannot occur for any of the following reasons:

(a) the specified person cannot be approved as an approved adoption home by a child-placing agency;

(b) the specified person cannot meet the requirements necessary for approval by a child-placing agency within a period of time that serves the best interest of the child respecting the child's need to be placed for adoption in a timely manner;

(c) the child-placing agency receives information indicating that the requirements of clause (b) of subsection (1) have not been met,

the child-placing agency shall advise the parents that placement of the child with the specified person cannot be effected.

(4) Upon being advised pursuant to subsection (3) that placement with a specified person cannot occur, a parent may

(a) direct the child-placing agency, in writing, to place the child with a suitable adopting family approved by the child-placing agency; or

(b) terminate the parent's adoption agreement in accordance with subsection (4) of Section 68.

(5) Where a child-placing agency has determined that placement of the child with the specified person cannot occur and the child-placing agency is unable, within three weeks, to contact a parent to advise the parent pursuant to subsection (3) that placement of the child with a specified person cannot be effected, the child-placing agency shall consider the child to be abandoned within the meaning of Section 28 and accordingly advise an agent.

(6) A parent, who enters into an adoption agreement and requests, in writing pursuant to subsection (1), that the child be placed with a specified person, may also request that, in the event that the agency determines that placement of the child with a specified person cannot occur, the agency may place the child for adoption with any other person or persons approved by the child-placing agency.

12 (1) Subsection 70(1) of Chapter 5 is repealed and the following subsection substituted:

(1) A child shall not be placed or received for the purpose of adoption except where

(a) the child is a child in the care of a child-placing agency;

(b) the child is placed by the father or mother with a relative of the father or mother; or

(c) one of the applicants for adoption is the father or mother of the child.

(2) Section 70 of Chapter 5 is further amended by adding immediately after subsection (3) the following subsection:

(4) Where a child has been placed for the purpose of adoption contrary to subsection (1), adoption proceedings may not be commenced with the meaning of clause (a) of subsection (2) of Section 67 until the conditions referred to in Section 70A exist, notwithstanding that any action has been taken to prosecute a violation of subsection (2).

13 Chapter 5 is further amended by adding immediately after Section 70 the following Section:

70A (1) A person who has had the physical care and control of a child for more than twenty-four consecutive months may, during the further continuance of that period of physical care and control, commence proceedings for adoption within the meaning of clause (a) of subsection (2) of Section 67 if, and only if,

(a) all necessary consents for adoption have been obtained or have been ordered dispensed with pursuant to Section 75;

(b) a parent whose consent to the adoption has been obtained has, before giving the consent, received professional counselling by a person or a member of a class of persons approved for that purpose by the Minister;

(c) a social and medical history respecting the biological father and the biological mother has been prepared, if the biological father and the biological mother, or either of them, are known and available to a person or a member of a class of persons approved for that purpose by the Minister; and

(d) the person has been approved by a child-placing agency for the adoption of the child.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply where

(a) the child is a child in the care of a child-placing agency;

(b) the child is placed by the father or mother with a relative of the father or mother; or

(c) one of the applicants for adoption is the father or mother of the child.

14 Clause 76(1)(a) of Chapter 5 is amended by adding ", or where one of the applicants for adoption is a parent of the child, notice of the proposed adoption has been given to the Minister not later than one month before the application to the court for an order for adoption" immediately after "adoption" in the last line.

15 Subsection 92(1) of Chapter 5 is amended by striking out "38" in the second line and substituting "39".

16 (1) Subsections 106(2) to (7) of Chapter 5 are repealed and the following subsections substituted:

(2) Notwithstanding Sections 67 to 87, the court for the purpose of those Sections is the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

(3) An application for adoption may be made to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia where

(a) either the applicant or the person to be adopted resides in the Province;

(b) either the applicant or the person to be adopted is domiciled in the Province;

(c) the person to be adopted is a child in care of an agency; or

(d) the person to be adopted was born in the Province.

(4) An application for adoption pursuant to this Act may be presented to and heard by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and a hearing pursuant to this Section in respect of an adoption shall be held in chambers and only those persons whose presence the Court permits may be present.

(2) Subsection 106(10) of Chapter 5 is repealed.

17 Sections 11, 12 and 13 come into force on such day as the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation.


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