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On 14 July 2015, the Supreme Court of B.C. handed down an unprecedented judgment J.P. v. British Columbia (Children and Family Development), 2015 BCSC 1216. This is the first case in Canadian legal history in which child protection workers are found liable for misfeasance in public office, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the standard of care. Litigations between JP and the MCFD are summarized in JP Aftermath. Our commentary on the Plecas Review Part 1: Decision Time was published on 4 January 2016. On 31 August 2017, the Court of Appeal for B.C. set aside the orders in the civil proceeding against the Director/Province, set aside the finding that Mr. Strickland committed misfeasance in public office, that the Director and her delegates breached their fiduciary duty to the children, and that the Director and her delegates breached the standard of care in the decisions they made with respect to the children while they were in her care.
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  1. MCFD found liable for misfeasance
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MCFD memorandum (Ref 79110 CP 00-01) dated August 25, 2000 from Ross Dawson, Director of Child Protection

Ministry for
Children and
Child Protection Division
PO Box 9766 Stn Prov
Victoria BC V8W 9S5
Ph: (250) 387-7071


August 25, 2000

TO: Regional Child Protection Managers Ref: 79110
CP 00•01

Re: Responding to Client Requests to Make Audio or Video Recordings of Interviews

In order to complete assessments, investigations, and make decisions required under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, social workers must gather information by reviewing existing material and speaking with those who know the child best. As the purpose of an interview is to facilitate timely and effective planning and decision making under the Act, the Director under the Act has the discretion and responsibility to determine how interviews are conducted.

Interviews conducted as part of assessments, investigations and casework under the Child, Family and Community Service Act need to be completed efficiently and effectively in order to make timely decisions in the best interests of the Child. Information collected under the Act is made available according to the information and disclosure provisions of the Act.

Client requests to record interviews or contact with MCF staff should be declined. When MCF staff suspect a conversation is being taped, staff should:

  • stop the interview,
  • clarify whether an audio or video tape recorder is present;
  • advise the person that recording the conversation is not permitted;
  • refrain from continuing the interview until there is assurance the recording has stopped.

Staff should advise the client that:

  • written notes may be taken of the interview or conversation;
  • the client may ask another person to attend and witness the interview or conversation (as long as the other person is not disruptive);
  • the client may confer with legal counsel at anytime;
  • information obtained by MCF staff may be requested according to the confidentiality and disclosure provisions of the Child, Family and Community Service Act.

When staff believe a client is likely to attempt to make an audio or video recording of an interview or request permission to do so, staff should be encouraged to consult with a supervisor or child protection manager about whether and how to conduct the interview.

In order to address unforeseen circumstances when allowing a client based recording of an interview will assist the director in assessment, investigation, and casework, Regional Child Protection Managers may approve exceptions to this general policy. Subject to your approval, permission may be given to allow a client to make a recording of an interview when:

  • recording can occur without impairing staffs ability to conduct a meaningful, effective, and timely interview;
  • steps can be taken to ensure the recording is not altered - such as the office receives a copy of the recording and verifies its accuracy;
  • recording the interview is not likely to risk harm to the child - either emotionally or otherwise;
  • recording the interview is not likely to result in identifying the person who made a report under section 14 or compromise information provided by a third party;
  • recording the interview will not compromise or disrupt a criminal investigation; and
  • the client provides a reliable assurance the recording will not be used in a manner inconsistent with the director's responsibility to ensure information remains confidential and children and families are not subject to public scrutiny.

Questions arising from requests to record conversations and interviews should be directed to the Regional Child Protection Manager or to the Child Protection Policy and Standards Branch at (250) 387-5213.

Ross Dawson
Director of Child Protection

pc: Vaughan Dowie, ADM, Regional Operations Division
    Mark Sieben, Manager, Child Protection Policy and Standards Branch

[This page was published on March 3, 2011.]