The B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with a Vancouver dad who fought to let his kids take the bus home from school without supervision.
The father, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, took the Ministry of Children and Family Development to court after ministry staff told him his school-age children couldn’t take public transit alone after they received a complaint in 2017.
A lower court upheld the ruling, so the father appealed again, arguing that the ministry exceeded its authority and jurisdiction under the Child, Family and Community Service Act.
In its ruling on July 6, the three-judge panel granted the appeal, saying the ministry may give advice and make recommendations to parents, but none such recommendations would be binding.
“I would expect that in most situations, parents would be receptive to any advice or recommendation offered, but they are entitled to disagree,” the decision said.
“The record shows that the appellant’s agreement was only given on an interim, not an ongoing basis.”
The father had spent two years training the eldest four of his five children, all between the ages of 7 and 10 at the time, how to take the bus to help them be more independent.
He is split up from the kids’ mother, and the children go to school near his ex-partner’s home. He had also given the kids a cellphone equipped with a location tracker.
However, following an assessment in early 2017, the father agreed he would not allow the kids to ride without a responsible adult.
In the latest ruling, the top court said the order requiring him to supervise his children on the bus was unauthorized and of no effect.
There is no legal minimum age for children to be left unsupervised in B.C., but Canada Safety Council guidelines recommend that children under the age of 10 not be left alone.
– With files from Simon Little