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Nova Scotia’s child protection law to proceed as is: minister

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s community services minister says changes to the province’s child protection law will not be amended, despite opposition to them.

Despite MLAs from her own government sending the bill back to the Community Services Department for further study on Monday, Joanne Bernard told reporters Tuesday, the bill will return to the legislature on Wednesday.

“I wasn’t in the room I don’t understand that legislative process, don’t need to as a minister,” Bernard said. “But it is coming back (Wednesday) morning to briefly go before law amendments and then it will come back to the house.”

Bill 112, amendments to the Children and Family Services Act, was introduced in April. Since then the department has introduced two rounds of amendments to it. It was expected to go back to the department for further consideration, however, Bernard said more study isn’t necessary.

“There will be no more further amendments, we are at a point now where the bill is as wholesome and strong as it can be and it will go back to the house,” Bernard said.

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Before it reaches the house the bill still has to be vetted again by members of the law Amendments Committee, however with a majority on the committee, Bernard called the committee process a “formality.”

The government’s decision runs counter to opponents who say there hasn’t been enough consultation and contend the changes could result in more children being removed from their homes and placed in temporary foster care because of a lack of government financial support.

“The bill is still draconian, they wrote a bill which was quite extreme it was a one sided piece of work,” said Rollie Thompson, a family law professor at Dalhousie University. Some changes have been made since the original amendments were introduced, however, he said “its still the same bad bill they brought in in the first place.”

The result of the amendments will be to give the department more power while taking power away from families and children, he said.

Bernard denies that will be the effect of the bill. She says the protection of children is an emotional issue and the government is never going to produce a bill that makes everyone happy.

The bill would extend protection for abused and neglected youth up to the age of 19 if they request it.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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