The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Bill No. 112

Children and Family Services Act (amended) *

An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1990, the Children and Family Services Act *

Introduced by:
Honourable Joanne Bernard
Minister of Community Services

First Reading
Second Reading Debates
Second Reading Passed
Law Amendments Committee
    Meeting Date(s) November 16, 2015; November 30, 2015; December 2, 2015
    Reported to the House
Committee of the Whole House
Third Reading Debates
Third Reading
Royal Assent
Commencement March 1, 2017; Except subsection 33(2) : upon proclamation.
2015 Statutes, Chapter 37

Explanatory Note

Clause 1
(a) amends the definition of “child” to include persons aged 16 to 18 years;
(b) updates the definitions of “child-care services”, “child-caring facility”, “court”, “parent or guardian” and “relative”;
(c) removes the definitions of “child-placing agency”, “county court” and “municipality”;
(d) adds definitions of “common-law relationship”, “emotional harm”, “neglect” and “sexual abuse”; and
(e) adds to the factors to be considered with respect to the “best interests of a child”.

Clause 2 removes a reference to “child-placing agencies”.

Clause 3 sets out the investigative powers of social workers employed by an agency.

Clause 4 requires the Minister or an agency to take reasonable measures to provide services to families and children to enable a child to be placed in the care of a parent or guardian of the child.

Clause 5 clarifies that the Minister has a duty to provide services or placement to a child under 16 years of age under certain circumstances and that the Minister is allowed to provide the same services or placement to a child 16 years of age or more but under 19 years of age under the same circumstances.

Clause 6 allows the Minister to appoint an interim manager to fix any problems with a child-caring facility rather than suspending or cancelling an approval or licence respecting the facility.

Clause 7 modernizes wording used in the Act.

Clause 8 replaces the ability of a child aged 16 to 18 years to enter into a special-needs agreement with the ability for such a child to enter into an agreement to voluntarily receive services.

Clause 9 allows a child aged 16 to 18 years to enter into a written agreement for a placement or assistance in obtaining a placement.

Clause 10
(a) removes the authority of a court to stay proceedings to determine whether a child is in need of protective services when a mediator is appointed;
(b) explicitly references the time limits that may be extended when a court grants an order for mediation; and
(c) allows for only one order for mediation to be granted in respect of any particular proceeding.

Clause 11 redefines when a child is in need of protective services.

Clause 12 expands the duty of professionals and officials to report abuse to include instances where the person has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is about to suffer abuse.

Clause 13 establishes a duty for a person to report information to an agency about the whereabouts of a child if the person is notified by the agency that there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe the child is in need of protective services. It also creates offences for failure to report and for false and malicious reporting, and prevents a person who makes a report from being subject to liability for doing so, unless the report is false and malicious.

Clause 14
(a) amends the interpretation provision respecting when a child is abused by a third party; and
(b) expands the duty to report third-party abuse to include a duty to report information indicating that a child is or may be about to suffer abuse in the imminent future.

Clause 15
(a) revises language to account for the change in the definition of “child”; and
(b) requires a peace officer to notify an agency and a parent or guardian of the child of a detention.

Clause 16
(a) allows an agency to place a child with a relative if the child has been abandoned, the child’s only parent or guardian has died or no parent or guardian is available to exercise custodial rights or has made adequate provision for the child’s care; and
(b) requires the agency to commence an application to determine whether a child is in need of protective services if the relative does not commence an application for care and custody of the child within 30 days of the child being placed with the relative.

Clause 17 extends the authority of a court to order a peace officer to locate, detain and return a child to children in care who are over the age of 16 years, and allows the court to order that a child in detention be delivered to a child-caring facility of an agent’s choosing.

Clause 18 modernizes references to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

Clause 19 provides that an application to determine whether a child is in need of protective services may only be commenced in respect of a child who is under 16 years of age at the time the application is made.

Clause 20 provides that an agent may only take a child 16 years of age or older but under 19 years of age into care after an application has been commenced.

Clause 21
(a) corrects an error;
(b) updates wording;
(c) makes an amendment consequential to the prohibition on a court ordering access when it makes an order for permanent care and custody; and
(d) extends to all foster parents, in respect of certain hearings, certain procedural rights of foster parents who have cared for a child for six continuous months.

Clause 22 provides for notice of a proceeding in respect of a child to be served on a non-custodial parent.

Clause 23 provides for the appointment of a guardian ad litem for any child under 16 years of age who is made a party to a proceeding.

Clause 24
(a) disallows a court from making an interim order that a child remain in or be returned to the unsupervised care and custody of a parent or guardian;
(b) allows a court to make an interim order that a child be placed in the supervised care and custody of a parent or guardian who did not have care and custody of the child at the commencement of the proceeding, or of a person who is a party to the proceeding;
(c) disallows a court from ordering interim access for a person other than a parent or guardian or other person who is a party to the proceeding;
(d) allows a court to make an interim order referring a child or a parent or guardian or other person who is a party to the proceeding for assessment, treatment or services; and
(e) provides that where a court makes a supervision order, a representative of the agency may enter the residence of the child to provide guidance and assistance and to ascertain whether the child is being cared for properly.

Clause 25
(a) allows a court to refer the parties to a proceeding to restorative conferencing if it is in the child’s best interests; and
(b) requires every party to admit that a child is in need of protective services before a court may determine that the child is in need of protective services on the basis of those admissions.

Clause 26 provides for restorative conferencing.

Clause 27
(a) allows a court to refer the parties to a proceeding to restorative conferencing if it is in the child’s best interests;
(b) removes a requirement that the plan for a child’s care provided to the court at a disposition hearing include an estimate of the time required to achieve the purpose of the agency’s intervention; and
(c) requires that, when a parent or guardian consents to a disposition order that removes a child from the parent or guardian’s care and custody, the court satisfy itself that the child has not expressed a desire to be a party to the proceedings, if the child is twelve years of age or more and not already a party to the proceeding.

Clause 28
(a) permits a court making a disposition order to order that a child be placed in the care of the child’s parent or guardian who did not have care and custody of the child at the commencement of the proceeding, or of a person who is a party to the proceeding; and
(b) modifies the requirement that a court, where it determines it necessary to remove a child from the care of a parent or guardian, consider placing the child with another person to require that any person so considered must have had a meaningful relationship with the child at the time the child was taken into care.

Clause 29
(a) modernizes wording;
(b) authorizes a court to order access by a child to any party to a proceeding for a supervision order; and
(c) removes a limitation on the duration of certain supervision orders that a court may make.

Clause 30
(a) modernizes wording;
(b) authorizes a court to order access by a child to any party to a proceeding for a temporary care and custody order; and
(c) removes the authority for a court to order access by a person, other than a party to the proceeding for a temporary care order, to a child when making an order for temporary care and custody.

Clause 31
(a) revises the maximum duration of a single disposition order to 3 months;
(b) revises the maximum cumulative duration of all disposition orders in a proceeding to 12 months;
(c) requires that the maximum cumulative duration of all disposition orders in a proceeding be reduced to account for time spent in restorative conferencing; and
(d) requires that a court dismiss a proceeding or order t hat the child be placed in the permanent care and custody of an agency if the child has been the subject of multiple proceedings and the cumulative duration of all supervision orders (in which the child remains in or is placed in the supervised care and custody of a person other than a parent or guardian) and orders for temporary care and custody exceeds 18 months.

Clause 32 makes an amendment consequential to the revision of the maximum duration of disposition orders.

Clause 33
(a) prohibits a court from ordering access when it makes an order for permanent care and custody;
(b) requires the agency to, where possible, facilitate communication between a child who is subject to an order for permanent care and custody and a relative or other person who has an established relationship with the child, if the agency considers the communication to be in the child’s best interests; and
(c) requires that a child who is subject to an order for permanent care and custody be placed with a family of the child’s religion, if possible.

Clause 34
(a) eliminates the court-ordered extension of an order for permanent care and custody if a child is under 21 years old and pursuing an education program;
(b) makes amendments consequential to the prohibition on a court ordering access when it makes an order for permanent care and custody;
(c) extends the time before which a party may apply to terminate an order for permanent care and custody and eliminates the ability of a party to apply for leave of the court to make such an application prior to that time;
(d) requires that an application to terminate an order for permanent care and custody be heard within 90 days; and
(e) removes the requirement that a certain written report submitted to the Minister by an agency be in the form prescribed by the regulations.

Clause 35 reduces the number of days in the period during which the appeal of a court order may be appealed to the Court of Appeal, to counteract a change in the way the appeal period is calculated under the new Civil Procedure Rules. The net effect is to return the length of the appeal period to what it was before the new Civil Procedure Rules came into effect.

Clause 36 provides that the maximum amount that a person may be made to pay under an order to pay maintenance is to be set out in a policy established by the Minister.

Clause 37 updates a reference to the Family Maintenance Act to a reference to the Maintenance and Custody Act.

Clause 38 changes one of the criteria that must be satisfied before a Minister may issue a secure-treatment certificate.

Clause 39
(a) provides that parents of children in temporary care are to receive notice of an application for a secure-treatment order, rather than being served with the application;
(b) allows such parents, upon application, to be added as parties to an application;
(c) extends the maximum duration of a secure-treatment order to 45 days; and
(d) changes one of the criteria that must be satisfied before a court may make or renew a secure-treatment order.

Clause 40
(a) provides that a parent of a child in temporary care is to receive notice of an application for review of a secure-treatment order, rather than being served with the application, if the parent was not a party to the application for the order;
(b) allows such a parent to, upon application, be added as a party to an application for review; and
(c) requires that an application for review be filed and served no fewer than four working days before the hearing.

Clause 41 makes amendments consequential to parents and guardians of children in temporary care no longer being automatically considered as parties to applications for secure-treatment orders or the review of such orders.

Clause 42 authorizes a person designated by the Minister in accordance with the regulations to apprehend a child and return the child to the secure treatment facility if the child is the subject of a secure-treatment certificate or order and leaves without obtaining a leave of absence or fails to return from a leave of absence.

Clause 43 provides for the granting to a child of a leave of absence for legal reasons while the child is being held in a secure treatment facility under a secure-treatment certificate or order.

Clause 44 modifies the test for emotional harm in a definition of abuse applicable to certain provisions of the Act.

Clause 45 expands the scope of the names to be entered on the Child Abuse Register to include the name of a person convicted of a criminal offence involving (as well as against) a child.

Clause 46 requires a person applying to be removed from the Child Abuse Register to give written notice of the application to the Minister.

Clause 47 provides that, subject to the authority to disclose contained in subsection 66(3) of the Act, the Minister may only disclose information about the entry of a person’s name in the Child Abuse Register to the person, rather than to certain third parties with the person’s consent.

Clause 48
(a) adds a definition of “court” for the purpose of the provisions of the Act relating to adoption;
(b) modernizes the language used in the Act; and
(c) replaces a reference to “paternity” with a reference to “parentage”.

Clauses 49 and 50
(a) replace references to a “child-placing agency” with references to an “agency”; and
(b) update the name of Mi’kmaw Family and Children’s Services.

Clause 51
(a) replaces a reference to a “child-placing agency” with a reference to an “agency”; and
(b) authorizes a child to be placed for adoption in Nova Scotia in accordance with the laws of another jurisdiction.

Clause 52
(a) replaces references to a “child-placing agency” with references to an “agency”; and
(b) allows a person who has care and custody of a child pursuant to an order made under the Maintenance and Custody Act to commence proceedings for adoption at any time while the order is in effect.

Clause 53
(a) extends the application of provisions relating to the husband or wife of a person applying to adopt a child to apply to the common-law spouse of such a person; and
(b) modernizes language.

Clause 54
(a) replaces a reference to a “child-placing agency” with a reference to an “agency”;
(b) removes a provision that allows an agency to give any consent otherwise to be given by a parent who enters into an adoption agreement with the agency to give up the child to the agency for the purpose of adoption; and
(c) updates a reference to the Family Maintenance Act to a reference to the Maintenance and Custody Act.

Clause 55 updates the name of Mi’kmaw Family and Children’s Services of Nova Scotia.

Clause 56 updates a reference to the Family Maintenance Act to a reference to the Maintenance and Custody Act.

Clause 57 modernizes language.

Clause 58 removes a reference to a “child-placing agency”.

Clause 59
(a) eliminates the Minister’s advisory committee; and
(b) allows for a subsidy to be granted to someone having care of an adopted child if the child’s adoptive parent, being in receipt of a subsidy under Section 87 of the Act, dies or becomes unable to care for the child.

Clause 60 expands the scope of an offence provisions to protect a child who is the subject of a temporary-care order from interference.

Clause 61 removes jurisdiction over offences under the Act from the Family Court and bestows it upon the Provincial Court.

Clause 62
(a) removes a provision allowing municipalities to contribute to an agency with jurisdiction within the municipality; and
(b) limits the liability of persons exercising or performing powers, duties or functions conferred under the Act, if exercised or performed in good faith and without negligence.

Clause 63
(a) removes references to child-placing agencies;
(b) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting the approval of foster parents;
(c) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting standards and procedures for the use in licensed child-caring facilities of therapeutic quiet rooms and physical restraints;
(d) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations prescribing the procedures for services agreements under Section 19 of the Act and placement agreements under Section 19A of the Act;
(e) allows the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting the designation by the Minister of a person who may apprehend or return a child to a secure treatment facility if the child is on unauthorized leave from the facility; and
(f) makes changes to the regulation-making powers consequential to the amendments to the Child Abuse Registry.

Clauses 64 and 65 repeal spent transitional provisions.

Clause 66 provides that where a proceeding under the Act is commenced before this Act comes into force, it is to be disposed of under the rules in place immediately before this Act came into force.

Clause 67 provides that this Act comes into force on proclamation.