The provincial government has introduced legislation to provide legal counsel for children in child protection hearings.
This will allow the Public Guardian and Trustee to appoint counsel for children when the Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench does not believe the child’s views or interests will be adequately represented in court. The Public Guardian and Trustee may also decide to provide a child with counsel upon request from the child, a family member or another concerned person.
These changes are being accomplished through amendments to The Public Guardian and Trustee Act, The Queen’s Bench Act, 1998, and The Provincial Court Act, 1998.
“Giving children a voice in child protection matters that concern them is a priority for this government,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said. “This ensures the best interests of children in Saskatchewan are protected in a way that is in line with approaches used in other provinces.”
The legislation is a response to recommendations made by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth.
“I’m very happy the Government is establishing a program for representation for children in child protection cases,” Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth Bob Pringle said. “We’ve worked with the Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan since 2007 so children and youth would have access to these services, and it’s satisfying to see all that work pay off.”
The legislation also establishes specific criteria for the courts and the Public Guardian and Trustee to use when deciding whether to appoint legal counsel for a child. A Counsel for Children program will be created within the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee to oversee the training and appointment of counsel for children.