Canada’s war on the family, Alberta moves on your children.
January 7, 2014 in North America
The following article is an analysis of Alberta’s BILL 25, the “Children First Act 2013″. I of all people can admit that I’m no law professor or even highly educated, what I am, is a dedicated husband and father of two beautiful children, and I tend not to trust any bureaucratic attempt to legislate away my rights as far as my children are concerned, no matter how noble the intent may appear. This analysis is intended to illustrate how, with a little predictive imagination, a broad and vague piece of legislation can so easily turn into outright abuse when unregulated authority over the public is given to a small group people, corporations, and governments, or as in many instances in this Act, just ONE person.
In May, 2013 the Alberta Department of the Crown Corporation of Canada declared the creation of Alberta’s BILL 25 “CHILDREN FIRST ACT 2013″, announced in the Media just days before it passed its third and final reading in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. This Law passed on the premise of “protecting” our children, and improving “services” for Families, by announcing:
“While parents, guardians, and families have the primary responsibility for their children; ALL individuals, families, communities, and Governments have a SHARED responsibility for the well-being, safety, security, education, and health of children.” (My emphasis added)
In a fantastic example of Orwellian doublespeak; the same word “responsibility” has two meanings. The first “responsibility” means the accountability for what a child goes through in life resides with the parents, and in the same sentence they use “responsibility” to mean the authority to make decisions concerning families and their children residing with those approved by the state.
This Act (BILL 25) involves:
-The “CHILDREN’S CHARTER” (presumably a “charter” of rights)
- Review (of existing programs for children and families) as well as the formation of a Family Violence Death Review Panel.
- Information sharing (for services and for research).
-Consequential and related Amendments (to existing Legislation involving children)
The CHILDREN’S CHARTER
Bill 25 Sec. 2(1) gives the Minister of Human Services (then David Hancock, who has now been removed from this post following a firestorm over unreported deaths of children in custody of the Crown) the authority to establish the CHILDRENS CHARTER, Sec. 2(3) gives the Minister the power to review, amend, repeal, and replace it as the Minster considers appropriate. Thankfully an amendment [A1(a)] was passed that adds Subsec. 4, which requires approval of the Children’s Charter and any amendments or changes by the Alberta legislature.
Under the guise of “protecting” Alberta’s children, it is hard for a member of the public to argue against the governments statements of intent that include:
”All children are to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their circumstances;”
”Prevention and early intervention are fundamental in addressing social challenges affecting children;”
It should be obvious to all that, with an apathetic public, as we have, the Children’s Charter could be used as a platform to justify so-called rights for children that would allow legal, academic, medical, even, physical intrusion on our families, without the prior knowledge or consent of Parents or Guardians. As well as potentially vast restrictions on other rights of parents that may (in the Governments opinion) “put children at risk”, thus, their financial, moral, or other circumstance could then be considered a risk to their children.
The bill insists [Sec.2(2)(e)] that it would (notice again the Orwellian Doublespeak as quoted above)…
“reinforce and not in any way derogate from the primary responsibility of parents, guardians and families for their children;”
As I stated before, the language is telling. The word ‘responsibility’ means that Parents or Guardian may be held responsible for what happens to their children, not responsible for determining what is best for their children. Instead the same sub-clause states that
“individuals, families, communities and governments have a shared responsibility for the well-being, safety, security, education and health of children”
Here the same word is used for the authority to determine what is best for the child.
Without the public’s consent vigilance and, in little likelihood of any continued media attention this platform can quickly erode our right to decide what is best for our families by allowing bureaucracy to paint all families with the same brush.
In education, the rights of parents to home school or remove their Children from classes which contradict ones family values may be challenged. Mandatory vaccinations to attend school, under to guise of protecting other children, by barring parents the right to withhold children from school (unless they are sick) in the event of a disease outbreak, may be enforced.
Also in regard to what “they” consider appropriate healthcare, could make it a violation to deny unethical medical treatments (like vaccines, or invasive therapy), or delay treatment while parents seek secondary opinions and/or alternative natural treatments not officially recognized by Alberta Health Services.
As far as Law enforcement is concerned, such a charter may be used as a vehicle to eventually allow police to interrogate, search, or seize a child’s property without the presence, consent, or even the knowledge of Parents. Even common and quite traditional disciplinary actions (like spanking), already largely demonized in the media, can be criminalized and used as probable cause that a child is “at risk” and “in need of intervention”.
The potential threats to a family’s right to self-determination are virtually endless when Government gives itself the authority to decide the rights of our children and the power to change those as they see fit. I admit that these are only speculations, but one can only speculate, as we have yet to actually see what is being written as we speak. I fear that these are very real possibilities.
The Information sharing section of Bill 25 has the stated intent to:
“Create a “tent” around individual children that allows for information sharing among parents and service providers for the purpose of providing services or benefits to the child.”
However, elements of the bill make it easier to exploit or abuse this personal and private information, primarily, by altering the test within the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Health Information Act by changing “imminent danger” to “risk of harm to the health or safety of a minor” when decisions regarding information sharing are made. Vastly relaxing the stringent requirements that were in place to prevent abuses of our privacy.
Sec. 4 (1)For the purposes of enabling or planning for the provision of services or benefits to a child, a service provider (definition below) may collect and use either or both of the following:(a) personal information about the child or a parent or guardian of the child from another service provider; (b) health information about the child from a custodian.
(2) For the purposes of enabling or planning for the provision of services or benefits to a child, (a) a service provider may disclose to another service provider personal information about the child or a parent or guardian of the child, and (b) a custodian may disclose to another custodian or to a service provider health information about the child.
(3) A service provider may disclose personal information and a custodian may disclose health information about a child to a guardian of the child if (a) the disclosure is not contrary to the express request of the child, and (b) the service provider or custodian making the disclosure is of the opinion that the disclosure is in the best interests of the child.
DEFINITIONS: Bill 24 Sec. 4 (1)
…(g) “service provider” means: (i) a department (of government); (ii) an educational body as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; (iii) a police service as defined in the Police Act; [Amendment 2(a)] strikes out subclause (iv):
(iv) an organization as defined in section 1(1)(i) of the Personal Information Protection Act that provides programs or services for children and substitutes: (iv) an individual or organization that provides programs or services for children under an agreement with a public body as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act; [A2(a)] also adds subclause: (v) any other individual or person provided for in the regulations [which are not yet written].
Thus, warrant-less investigation is protected, and private information concerning your family can be collected and shared by Law enforcement and bureaucratic agencies, without the knowledge or consent of the family. Thanks to Amendment 2(a) this now includes Child Intervention Workers (below), and ANY PERSON appointed by a director or the Minister of Human Services to preform duties in accordance with the regulations to enforce the intent of this act (more on the regulations section below). Notice that nowhere is a family allowed to with-hold consent to the information being collected or disclosed.
In accordance with fairness doctrine; if only for research purposes all shared information is to be anonymous. Anonymized information can be distributed for statistical reporting and other program review purposes.
The Legislature did, thankfully, pass an amendment [A1(b)] under Sec. 4, requiring all persons to keep a record regarding the disclosure of information under this Act, yet again, they state “in accordance with the procedures set out in the regulations” that have not yet been written, but does NOT include a requirement for consent or even to inform a Parent or guardian that a disclosure has been requested.
Creating and enhancing powers for “CHILD INTERVENTION WORKER”(s)
The majority of this Act amends or repeals areas of pre-existing legislation such as: The Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act, the Protection Of Sexually Exploited Children Act, Drug Endangered Children Act, and others; as “Consequential Amendments”, that create and/or re-enforce the powers of so-called CHILD INTERVENTION WORKERS such as striking out the word ‘DIRECTOR’ and substituting ‘Child Intervention Worker’, where ever it appears in numerous places, including laws requiring Official Orders, or Warrants to be issued to remove children from homes, which as a consequence, now can be based entirely on the opinion of the front-line worker that they “believe” the child may be “in need of intervention.”
For Example: BILL 25 (sec. 62) The following is added after section 129 (of the Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act):
129.1 Child intervention workers
(1) A director may designate persons as child intervention workers for the purposes of this Act. (2) An individual designated under subsection (1) must have the qualifications required by the regulations. (3) Where a child is in the custody of the Crown or the Crown is a guardian of a child, a child intervention worker may exercise all the powers and perform all the duties and functions of the Crown as custodian or guardian of the child. (4) A child intervention worker when acting under section 19, 45, 46 or 48 has the powers of a peace officer.
So, Child Intervention Workers will be appointed by a Director based on their field and training in “providing services to children”, which could (when the regulations are written) include: School Staff, Hospital Staff, Social services, Charity workers, Police, etc. Greater authority will then be given to Front-line workers while diminishing the role of Directors of Child Protective Services, to make decisions involving children, and at the same time 129.2 now…
… “provides liability protection in legislation for front-line workers who act in good faith and within the scope of their positions.” (Pg. 9: Overview of the Children First Act)
129.2 Protection from liability:
(1) No action lies against a director or child intervention worker in respect of anything done or omitted to be done in good faith in the exercise or intended exercise of any power under this Act or in the performance or intended performance of any duty or function under this Act.
Thus parents can’t file lawsuits against Child Intervention Workers who lead unnecessary investigations that might impact a person’s criminal or other private records, take kids as a knee-jerk reaction based on false accusations or unreliable information, or when children, under temporary or permanent guardianship die in Foster care [deaths which largely go unreported according to in depth investigations by the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald], and will be able to use “probable cause” to justify their searches, seizures, arrests, and kidnappings.
Add C-12 129 to C-12 130(b) (below) and suddenly refusing to consent to an illegal search of your home is a CRIMINAL OFFENSE if children reside in the home at anytime.
Other potentially abusive “consequential amendments”
Bill 25 (Sec. 63): Section 130 (Child, Youth, and Family Enhancement Act) as well as many other similar laws is amended by striking out “wilfully”.
Any person who (a)
wilfully causes a child to be in need of intervention, or (b) obstructs or interferes with, or attempts to obstruct or interfere with, a director , a director’s delegate [Child Intervention worker], a peace officer or any other duly authorized person exercising any power or performing any duty under this Act is guilty of an offense and liable to a fine of not more than $25 000 or to imprisonment for a period of not more than 24 months or to both a fine and imprisonment.
Similar Amendments involving the “striking out” of the word “wilfully” also appear for the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, and Drug Endangered Children Act.
It is obvious to all loving and dedicated parents that it is NO Defense to stand in court and say “I didn’t know (for example) cooking meth in the basement was bad for my kids”. But because, now, a Child Intervention Worker has the authority to independently determine what constitute a “risk of harm” or if a child is “in need of intervention” the amendment to C12: Sec.130(a) may be used to justify intrusive investigations or even the removal of a child from the custody of their parents in the event of household accidents or what most of us consider normal disciplines like spanking. The Government admits its intent in the statement:
“…removing the term “wilfully” in these acts will ensure that those who put children at risk are held accountable in appropriate circumstances, regardless of their intention or motivation.”
However, without acknowledging the complete LACK of intent or motivation, they leave the door wide open for accidental injuries that did not involve any action by parents to be considered in matters resulting in “child interventions”. Thus “Neglect” then can be sighted if a child falls out of a tree in a fenced back yard, or slips on a wet floor after mom mopped up in the kitchen.
It is my prediction that, if the ‘Regulations’ permit for mass delegation of Child Intervention Worker status to apply to (for example) all healthcare workers, then a chilling effect would occur among parents who would otherwise take an injured child to hospital, due to fear of unnecessary investigations, charges with neglect, forced vaccinations, or ultimately having their children taken away completely.
Sec. 6 The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations (a) defining any term used but not defined in this Act; (b) respecting terms and conditions referred to in section 5(3); (c) respecting any other matter that the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers necessary or advisable for carrying out the intent of this Act.
So as with many laws across Canada, the Lieutenant General (an appointed emissary of a foreign Monarch) has the sole authority to make any and all regulations respecting any aspect of this Act they consider necessary to fulfilling its “intent”. As of the date of this post (10 months after passing), it is now coming into effect,and I have not yet seem any regulations or any final decisions on the Children’s Charter.
My conclusion is this; take a moment to ask yourself these questions: Should, having a child revoke your Right to the protection of your and your family’s privacy? Should being a parent or guardian revoke your rights to self-determination for you and your families’ future?
I say, No it does not! However the only way to stop this kind of abuse is by working together. Why can’t the way I chose to raise my family be considered a vital influence on our National and Cultural future instead of being viewed as a challenge to the governments authority? Not being a collective of rats, and spies, destroying and dividing our neighborhoods up through lack of trust and handing over control over the future of our kids for an illusion of “common good”.
The reality is that Alberta’s Privacy Commissioner warned that this law will erode Albertan’s ability to protect their health and private information, and Public Interest Alberta asked the Government to, at least, postpone the passage of this law insisting that the Privacy concern was THAT important. In response the Minister attempted to debunk their concerns with, what I consider, classic government humming and hawing over the real concerns and hiding behind excuses that always seem to start with, “if it’s for the kids”, and, “if it helps protect kids”, but lets not forget, that this Minister, David Hancock, has since been fired from the Ministry of Human Services Alberta.
First; REPEAL THE LAW, until REAL public involvement can occur. I personally was disappointed at how little media attention was given to so-called attempts by the government to hold public meetings on this topic/I was diligently awaiting and seeking information on these meetings but obviously I missed them.
Simply put, WE DON’T NEED LAWS LIKE THIS. By getting to know our neighbors is the ONLY way to address the challenges facing our kids. Being involved in our communities in essential. Partnering up on innovative projects for mutual benefit, whether by community garden(s) or just sharing what you grow and encouraging others to do the same helps break down the barriers put up by our scared and cautious society. STOP WATCHING TV, instead of allowing so-called entertainment to convince us of our own selfish unimportance; try to have old fashioned block parties again, shovel sidewalks, and just producing together goes a long way. When you know that you’re a good person, doing your best for your kids, you shouldn’t have to be afraid of spying neighbors. We start by encouraging our children to be involved with kids having a hard time, not shying away or bullying them. Then, we’ll see real fast how finding fulfillment stops people from hiding, and once we all stop hiding then we take away the environment where violence flourishes. Resorting to deviant sex, illicit and pharmaceutical drugs, and violence is a symptom of broken community, not a need for government involvement. We don’t need government telling us what’s right and wrong and how to be successes, when they are the ones who always fail us. I encourage you all to click the link and read the above mentioned media investigation into child deaths in foster care.