Mandate of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection
By virtue of decree number 534-2019 adopted on May 30, 2019 by the Québec government, it is ordered—on the recommendation of the Minister of Health and Social Services, the Minister for Health and Social Services, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Families, the Minister of Education and Higher Education and the Minister of Public Security—that, under section 1 of the Act respecting public inquiry commissions (chapter C-37), the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection be constituted, its mandate being:
to investigate youth protection safeguards, in the various response networks concerned, in order to identify issues and obstacles and formulate recommendations on improvements to be made.
More specifically, that the Commission:
- undertake an examination of youth protection services, the act that governs them, and the role of the courts, the role of social services and the other actors concerned;
- examine the evolution over the past 40 years of the provisions of the Youth Protection Act, of knowledge pertaining to best intervention practices, and of the needs of children in difficulty and their families;
- take a contemporary look at the entire youth protection system and at interactions with partners working with children;
- take into account the reality of Indigenous peoples with respect to youth protection, referring in particular to the forthcoming studies of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec and the results of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
To fulfil its mandate, the Commission must specifically examine:
- the organization and funding of youth protection services within the health and social services network with a view to guaranteeing the provision of high-quality, diligent services tailored to the needs of children and their families;
- the role and responsibilities of public networks and their partners, including community organizations, in the protection of children in Québec and their contribution to child welfare, by identifying issues and obstacles to cooperation between these networks in order to improve collective management of children in need of protection;
- the organization and functioning of the courts regarding youth protection, either the Court of Québec, Youth Division, and its connections with the courts regarding child custody, or the Superior Court, to ensure that the general principles of the Youth Protection Act and children’s rights are being enforced, including the study the relationship between the courts and youth protection services;
- the current legislative framework and the application of the Youth Protection Act both in terms of social intervention and from a legal level perspective, and the gap between objectives and outcomes.
To fulfil its mandate, the Commission may:
- document the various themes of the mandate;
- receive briefs and take them into account in its work;
- hold public hearings at which testimony will be heard from witnesses, experts, groups and organizations from all the networks concerned, as well as individuals regarding their experience of the path and quality of services they have received;
- when required, conduct closed sessions and take all appropriate measures to preserve the confidentiality of the identity of persons heard at these hearings and any personal information protected by law.
The Commission will travel to all regions of Québec.
Obligations of the Commission
The Commission must carry out its duties without hindrance to any current or future investigation, particularly any criminal, penal, ethical or disciplinary investigation, or to any judicial proceedings that are under way or may arise therefrom.
The Commission must ensure that its report contains no personal information protected by law so that it can be tabled in the National Assembly by the government.
The report of the Commission must not apportion blame nor formulate any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil, penal or criminal liability of persons or organizations.
The Commission must submit its report and recommendations to the government by April 30, 2021.