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Quebec launches free youth protection mediation service as part of pilot project

A woman places a stuffed animal in front of the house where lived a 7-year-old girl who was found in critical condition by police on Monday in Granby, Que. on Friday, May 3, 2019. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

A new pilot project in Quebec is encouraging parents to seek mediation and solutions outside legal procedures for the better good of children.

Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, Junior health Minister Lionel Carmant and Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault made the announcement in a release on Monday, saying the mediation service could lead to better child protection intervention such as when disputes occur within families in custody cases.

Jolin-Barrette said the project will encourage parents to find solutions outside the court, which often can lead to negative repercussions for the children.

“It constitutes a non-judicial avenue deployed in the primary interests of the child,” Jolin-Barrette said. “This pilot project will encourage the exploration of a new avenue in order to better protect our children. ”

READ MORE: Quebec’s youth protection system needs ‘severe shift’ to help vulnerable children, inquiry finds

The release said mediation is a possible new avenue before going to court and will be offered after a deadlock or when voluntary agreements are refused. Quebec hopes to improve interventions with the independent, free and fast mediation service.

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The service will be available for free, for a maximum of five hours. It will gradually be implemented in the provincial capital judicial district before being introduced in other areas throughout 2022.

The pilot project is a result of recommendations made by the Commission on Children’s Rights and Youth Protection, following a two-year investigation that was prompted by the April 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl in Granby, Que.

Click to play video: 'Quebec’s youth protection system needs ‘severe shift’ to help vulnerable children, inquiry finds' Quebec’s youth protection system needs ‘severe shift’ to help vulnerable children, inquiry finds
Quebec’s youth protection system needs ‘severe shift’ to help vulnerable children, inquiry finds – May 3, 2021

The girl was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department. Commission president Regine Laurent included numerous recommendations in his 552-page report in May, saying the girl’s death was a collective failure of Quebec society and more needed to be done.

“This pilot project is part of our desire to respond with diligence and rigour to the Commission recommendations,” Carmant said.

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The release said the service will use mediators specialized in family matters with experience and knowledge in youth protection.

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