New child and youth act becomes law in N.B.

·1 min read
The new law gives the Department of Social Development expanded powers to intervene when they believe there could be a risk of harm to a child. (CBC News file photo - image credit)
The new law gives the Department of Social Development expanded powers to intervene when they believe there could be a risk of harm to a child. (CBC News file photo - image credit)

New Brunswick's new Child and Youth Well-Being Act has passed through the legislature and has received royal assent.

The new law gives the Department of Social Development expanded powers to intervene when it believes there could be risk of harm to a child.

The bill came about after several high profile cases of child abuse and neglect in the province.

Change was also spurred on by a report from three years ago by consultant George Savoury indicating children were being put at risk in the current system because it was under-resourced and not seen as a priority by the department.

Earlier this year, Kelly Lamrock, the province's child and youth advocate, said there were "worrying gaps" when it came to tracking youth in the province's child welfare system.

He asked for amendments to be made to the act to force the province to track and report on the outcomes of children in the province's care.

Amendments made late

Just this week several amendments to the bill were made after the government heard from several witnesses at committee hearings.

"That prompted us to say, 'OK, let's make some changes,'" said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch, that resulted in a unanimous vote.

Pat Richard/CBC
Pat Richard/CBC

"That to me shows good collaboration," he said.

Even with the amendments, there were concerns raised by several witnesses at committee that the bill still didn't go far enough.

But Fitch said the bill is meant to be a starting point, not a final destination.

"Passing the bill gives us good framework and then filling in some of the blanks or the issues that were talked about yesterday," said Fitch.

"We continue to do the work."

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