Flaws of CFCSA
The Child Family and Community Service Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 46 (CFCSA) governs the "child protection", or more precisely child removal, activities of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). It appears that the legislative intent of this Act is to protect children, essentially from their birth parents. Most people have not heard of this Act. Many believe that it is fair, impeccable and serves the best interests of children, families and society.
In a world where nuclear weapons and terrorism fueled by hatred are prominent risks, safety has become an appealing term in politics. Many industries are created to enhance security using fear as a motivating factor. The biggest customer is government. It presents lucrative business opportunities for special interests to explore.
In the context of state sponsored child removal, empirical evidence (such as research results, statistical reports), testimonies from children and parents, atrocities suffered by children in care, suggests that CFCSA has failed to deliver the ideals it intends to produce. We will discuss the flaws in CFCSA and how it fails to prevent service providers from abusing power, destroying families, and above all, victimizing many children.
Despite the fact that both litigations take place in provincial courts, CFCSA and "child protection" proceedings are very different than the Criminal Code and criminal proceedings where there is much more due process of law and decisions are based on good evidence. Law is seldom flawless. But CFCSA is particularly worse in the following aspects:
Best interests of child
Unlike the Criminal Code, many terms in CFCSA are not clearly defined. For instance, what defines child's safety and emotional needs are not definitively stated. To some parents, allowing a 10-year old child to walk to school alone is not unsafe. A child protection worker may take a different position. To some spoiled brats, pocket money less than $2,000 per week is a failure to meet their emotional needs. It is like outlawing speeding without setting a speed limit.
Such ambiguity allows "child protection" workers to define what child safety is, hence controlling the demand of their service. Even the best interests of child (the main theme of CFCSA) in Section 4 are not defined at all. Best interests are hence open to interpretation, often the subjective, and sometimes situational, interpretation of "child protection" workers. Bureaucrats and politicians always cite the best interests of children when questioned by the media without further elaborating what they mean. This vague term is nothing more than a shrewd mean to winnow unwanted questions.
Duty to report need for protection
Section 14 of CFCSA obliges everyone to report suspected child abuse on a very low threshold. Failure to do so is an offence. Despite that some informants are of good intent, this effectively creates a witch hunt network often abused by various parties, most notably estranged spouses, hostile in-laws and malicious neighbors.
Although Section 14(6) supposedly provides deterrence of reporting false information, we are not aware of any case in which malicious informants are challenged by the Ministry, let alone found guilty in contravention of this subsection.
Hearings civil in nature and may be informal
Section 66 of CFCSA stipulates that hearings under this Act is civil in nature and may be as informal as a judge may allow. This may put some parents at ease, hence letting down their guard because they are not standing a criminal trial. Losing a CFCSA hearing will not result in a criminal record. But you may lose your children, permanently in some cases, a penalty more serious than any jail sentence to most parents.
Since CFCSA hearings are civil in nature, this allows CFCSA to circumvent Section 11 charter right protection as it only applies to proceedings in criminal and penal matters.
Unlike in criminal defence, parents cannot quash CFCSA applications filed by MCFD based on procedural technicalities and abuse of process, which frequently occur. Furthermore, there is little consistency in hearing formality as different judges may have a different standard of how informal CFCSA hearings may be allowed.
One disturbing fact is denial of justice by not having a trial for a very long period of time. Various time lines are set in different CFCSA sections. These deadlines have little bearings on the Ministry in practice. The Ministry could remove your children and not giving a trial for years. In Paul and Zabeth Bayne's case, parents did not get a trial to present their case until over 3 years after the removal of their children. Of course, parents do not have charter right protection and are not entitled to trials within a reasonable time. No CFCSA application has been dismissed on this ground. This is equivalent to putting someone in jail for a few years without giving the accused a trial.
- Admissibility of evidence in CFCSA proceedings
Division 7 of CFCSA deals with procedure and evidence allowed in CFCSA proceedings.
Section 68 of CFCSA explicitly allows hearsay evidence that the court considers reliable.
Theoretically, the Evidence Act applies. We are unsure how much bearing the Evidence Act has in CFCSA proceedings. Unlike in criminal law, evidence collected unlawfully is also admissible. The most disturbing common example is coercing parents to admit guilt of abuse using their children as pawns. This is equivalent to pointing a gun at someone and force a confession. Under duress and hoping to get their children back as "child protection" workers may have promised, many parents admit guilt when they have not abused their children. Needless to say, once they admit guilt, it only worsens their problem and often have to stand criminal trial as "child protection" workers will be zealously lobbying the Crown to lay charges based on these forced confessions.
While some coercions are blatant, others are more subtle. If you find the foregoing unbelievable in Canada, hear what Paul and Zabeth Bayne said in the video on the left. Their case is not an isolated incident. We have come across many cases in which parents are forced to admit guilt as a prerequisite of receiving "service" and "consideration" of returning children.
Failure to prevent bureaucrats from coercing parents to give confessions of wrongdoings they have not committed and admission of confession obtained in such despicable manner have brought the administration of justice into disrepute and render our constitutional rights completely meaningless.
Onus of proof
Unlike in criminal trial and contrary to public belief, there is no provision in CFCSA obliging the Ministry to bear the onus of proof. In reality, "child protection" workers often make unsubstantiated allegations based on an opinion, a perception or hearsay. Parents bear the onus to prove that these allegations are false and they are innocent. This contradicts the spirit of law in obliging the accuser to bear the onus of proof. British Columbia (Director of Child, Family and Community Services) v. G.(R.), 2001 BCPC 32 (paragraph ) is a good example to prove the foregoing. The Honorable Judge Jane Auxier (a provincial court judge in Vancouver) wrote:
"I'm sure the parents will see this decision as unfair to them - that I've put the onus on them to prove themselves, rather than putting the onus on the director to prove their inability. And I suppose that is what I have done. Primarily because of the very lengthy history of ongoing problems, the court must err on the side of caution, keeping J. in a known, safe environment rather than taking the risk of placing him in his parents' care."
It is unfair indeed. We will deal with the notion of erring on the side of caution and placing children in a known safe environment called foster home later.
Absolute power to remove children
Section 30 of CFCSA grants MCFD directors ("child protection" workers for all intensive purposes in practice) the power to remove children without a court order if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the child needs protection. Police is obliged to accompany and assist "child protection" workers in exercising this authority and has no discretion whatsoever.
There is no immediate remedy to rectify a wrong removal decision. Cases we came across seldom involve a child's health or safety in immediate danger that requires such drastic and intrusive measure. To most reasonable persons, this power is seldom needed. But it has become a trump card that "child protection" workers often use to support their industry. Although "child protection" workers always allege that there is no other less disruptive measure that is available is adequate to protect the child, they often fabricate conditions to justify their action. For example, in Derek Hoare's case (June 2011), a voluntary agreement which calls for removal was offered as a so-called less intrusive measure. When Mr. Hoare declined, his 9-year old child Ayn was removed from school immediately.
Once a child is removed, the earliest chance parents may dispute the decision and have their case heard is in Section 35 Presentation Hearing, which is usually 3 tor 4 months later. Based on the statistics from 1999 to 2001, the Ministry stands 98% of winning interim custody. The remaining 2% are orders to return children under supervision orders. No parent got their children back unconditionally in those 3 years.
Parents are forced to interact with many service providers who have a unseverable financial interests with the MCFD and its child removal activity. This allows "child protection" workers plenty of time and opportunities to brainwash children, turn them against their parents and to collect/fabricate evidence to support their theory of abuse.
Furthermore, there are numerous means available the Ministry to stall the legal process and divert the cases outside the judiciary. Most frequently used ruses are mediation and voluntary agreement using children as pawn. The term "voluntary care agreements" in Section 6 of CFCSA is misleading as most parents are compelled to sign such agreements when access of removed children (such as phone contact and visitation) and other threats (such as removal other children, if any, still in the custody of parents) are used as weapon to beat them into submission. Paragraph  of Director v. K.L.R., 2010 BCPC 342 clearly describes how "child protection" worker used access to children as a weapon to force parent to consent to Continuing Custody Order. It read:
"Ms. Waddell (a MCFD social worker) also acknowledged that in a mediation session held following the last chance order, the Director took the position that it was unwilling to consent to the Respondent having access to the children unless the Respondent consented to the making of a Continuing Custody Order. The Respondent subsequently applied for and was granted an order giving her access to these children."
This amounts to legalized (as court condoned by silence) blackmail. Other tactics used by "child protection" workers are discussed a separate page "MCFD Tactics" linked herein.
- Built-in punishment if parents dispute the Ministry's applications
If parents dispute the Ministry's applications in court, they will find themselves in a dilemma that the length of time they must wait for a trial date is often longer than the period of custody or supervision order. Moreover, the trial may take several weeks or months. This amounts to doubling up the penalty at the onset if parents dare to disagree with the Ministry's application. In the interim, the Ministry holds on to their children and continues to use them as pawns to beat parents into submission or to admit guilt.
Despite whether or not parents win in a trial, they punish themselves by suffering a longer period of separation with their loved ones. If they lose (which is often the case in CFCSA hearings), the order starts from the date of judgment, not the date in which parents fix a trial date. In some rare occasions when parents win, there is no guarantee that the Ministry will obey the order of return or to honor its obligations in an order.
This explains why many parents, upon the advice of their lawyers, "consent" to the Ministry's applications because they will be worse off by fighting in court. Of course, the Ministry will defend itself by saying that this is a court scheduling problem not caused or created by its workers. There is nothing the Ministry could do. This is precisely one of the reasons why the current system is irreparable and must be abolished.
- Low threshold of proof and absurd judicial attitude
In a Section 35 Presentation Hearing, judges hold that the threshold of proof is very low under the statute. It is considered akin to a preliminary inquiry in criminal law. Judges will be satisfy to make interim custody order in favor of the Ministry if the removal is not arbitrary. All the Ministry has to establish is a prima facie case and the test is the balance of probability.
In a Section 35 hearing in 2009, the Honorable Judge Therese Alexander (a provincial court judge in New Westminster) gave the following oral reasons () for judgment:
"If there is a conflict on evidence at this stage (an interim custody hearing under Section 35), it must be resolved in favour of the Director for a more thorough investigation at a full hearing."
There are discrepancies or conflict on evidence in most litigations. This is precisely one of the main reasons why a hearing is needed to determine which version is more reliable. If the court must rule in favour of the Ministry when such discrepancy arises, why bother to have a hearing to begin with? Taxpayers will be better off if the Ministry's decisions are final. This absurd judicial attitude has:
failed to provide fair and prompt adjudication on state-sponsored child removal (be mindful that the earliest possible Section 35 hearing is already 3 to 4 months after removal, this is too long for most parents);
prolonged separation of children and, inadvertently or not, supported the best interests of service providers in the child protection industry;
effectively turned the judiciary into a very expensive rubber stamp and failed society's expectation to protect families from government abuse.
Assumption of guilt
In criminal law, an accused is assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In CFCSA hearings, parents are assumed guilty until they prove themselves innocent (which rarely happens). British Columbia (Director of Child, Family and Community Service) v. S. (B.) (Docket: F970148, Registry: Vancouver Supreme Court of British Columbia) confirms that there is no assumption of innocence and the benefit of a doubt will never be given to parents in child protection hearings. Paragraph  read:
a judgment from the Honourable Judge Stansfield in H.L. (at para. 30) as follows:
"I understand the ratio of Mr. Justice Hinkson's decision to be that if a child has suffered harm while in the care of her parents, in the absence of proof of a cause unrelated to the parents' care, the hearing judge must protect against the reasonable apprehension that the parents may have been the cause of the injury. The child must in that circumstance be understood to be in need of protection, and the hearing judge must move to the second stage of the inquiry under section 13(1)."
Instead of empowering parents to carry out their responsibilities to care for their children, CFCSA arms "child protection" workers with the power to remove children, allows them to define what child abuse is and funds them with tax dollars to pursue parents. This inevitably puts parents and government on a collision course. Often, child protection investigations become very confrontational at the onset. This seldom serves the alleged function of development families as the Ministry's title implies.
Child removal authority permits government to claim ownership (or custody at the very least) of children. In some extreme cases, parents can be charged of kidnapping their own children. The Hong Kong immigrants Hung-Kwan Yuen and Anna Zhang from Toronto were arrested for kidnapping their own children in Richmond, British Columbia in October 2009 when they took two of their four removed children and fled Canada en route Vancouver. The family was taken back to Toronto to stand criminal trial. It is unthinkable that this absurd situation could happen in any civilized society. Prosecution (more precisely persecution) for kidnapping one's own children from the government should indeed be an international laugh stock. State-sponsored child removal is an issue that all parents should have a serious concern.
Psychiatric or medical examination orders
Section 59 of CFCSA permits court to make mandatory order to force a child or a parent to undergo a medical, psychiatric or other examination. Compelling parents to undergo psychological assessment is more common than psychiatric examination. However, Section 59 is seldom relied on as many supervision orders contain a condition compelling children and parents undergo assessments from MCFD paid psychologists.
In reality, psychological assessment is another round of fishing expedition as service providers will work in concert to force a confession of child abuse that can be used in court. MCFD paid counselors often require that admission of problems or guilt be a prerequisite to offer effective counseling. Of course, once parents admit that there are problems, it justifies the Ministry's action. Many orders requires that parents complete counseling to the Ministry's or its counselor's satisfaction before their children can be returned. Many parents fall into this trap when they become desperate to get their children back.
Another pseudo scientific ruse used on young children is a psychological crystal ball technique called drawing test. Psychologists allege that the mental health or state of mind of children is revealed in their drawing. Drawings can therefore be relied upon to determine the likelihood of child abuse. We have come across a case in which a removed 9-year old child was asked to draw a picture of his home by a MCFD-paid counselor. After he drew a house and his sister, his picture was taken by the counselor. The child intended to draw his parents. Despite his repeated request to get his picture back so that he can add his parents, the counselor told him that the time is up and his request was denied. Needless to say, this picture was noted in the counselor's report to support the theory that parents are not considered by the child as a functional component of his home and they are likely to have abused their children. Some "evidence" that MCFD uses to support their CFCSA applications is created in this fashion.
Using one's children as pawns and force parents to undergo MCFD-paid assessments to fish and/or fabricate incriminating information is despicable, it is an insult of dignity and has brought the administration of justice into disrepute.
Evidential Unidirectionality of Psychological Assessments
Psychological assessments unfavorable to parents are always used as justification of MCFD involvement. Such expert evidence will create a slam dunk for MCFD to obtain whatever order it sees proper from court.
On the other hand, psychological assessments favorable to parents do not always change MCFD's position. In the case of Magdalena Asbjornhus, she had been assessed by a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist. Both assessments confirmed that she does not have mental health problem. Her psychologist recommended returning her child under 9 conditions. Despite these sterling recommendations, MCFD maintained that she is a risk and proceeded to remove her second child right at birth in June 2011. Her partner Kevin Newton and the grandparents were waiting outside the delivery room but were not given a chance to see the newborn baby.
The aforesaid case suggests that psychological assessments can only be used by MCFD to prove parent's insanity. However, parents may not be able to use them to prove their sanity and change MCFD's position. Whether court allows this evidential unidirectionality remains to be seen.
- Child's view be heard
Section 2(d) of CFCSA stipulates that the child's views should be taken into account when decisions relating to a child are made. Despite this guiding principle, children are seldom allowed to be present in CFCSA hearings, let alone having their views heard. We have seen judges ordering removed children (12 years of age at the time) to leave the courtroom alleging that children are deemed unsuitable to hear what is going on.
The only case in which children's views are considered is when children have been brainwashed and agree to stay in foster care. This was done by way of letters written to the judge when children were coached by foster parents. This approach will ensure that child's views are exactly what "child protection" workers want to hear.
- Full disclosure to parties
Section 64 of CFCSA stipulates that all parties (including MCFD directors) must disclose fully and in a timely manner to another party in CFCSA proceedings the orders the party intends to request, the reasons for requesting those orders and the party's intended evidence subject to any claim of privilege.
In practice, disclosure and intended evidence, with vital information blacked out alleging confidentiality, are often given to parents a few minutes before hearing begin. As a matter of fact, we have not come across cases where there is an exception. This becomes a standard in the practice of the Ministry. Parents have no time to prepare for defence and are obliged to seek adjournment. "Child protection" workers have no repercussion whatsoever. The objective is to lengthen the child holding period and to create jobs for service providers. Removed children continue to be warehoused in foster care while service providers keep milking taxpayers. Such tactic is inconsistent with natural justice and directly contradicts Section 64 of CFCSA. The video on the right is based on a true child removal case in which child protective service (CPS as commonly known in the United States) used this tactic on parents.
In cases we have come across, parents received selective disclosure of information in the last minute before CFCSA hearings. Information unfavorable to the Ministry is often omitted and parents find extreme difficulty to get information on time that is vital to their cause.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Politicians and bureaucrats always cite confidentiality and privacy and refuse to comment or to provide information when asked by the media (watch the news video, embedded at the bottom of this page, to see how Alberta's Child and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz used this ruse to avoid answering the media when a removed child died in care 6 days after removal). This is merely a bureaucratic way of saying: "It's none of your business. Don't ask." Ms. Kathy Tomlinson of CBC had characterized MCFD as Ministry of No Information in her "Go Public" coverage on 6 April 2009.
In fact, confidentiality and privacy are the last thing the Ministry would worry about. Section 96 of CFCSA permits a MCFD director right to any information that is in the custody or control of a public body. At times, the entire family medical records and prescription drugs history are reviewed by "child protection" workers even before they interview parents. Do people who do this care about confidentiality and privacy? Who else in government have the power to do this?
Breach of Confidentiality
Section 79 of CFCSA authorizes a director to disclose information obtained under CFCFSA without the consent of any person if the disclosure is necessary to ensure the safety or well-being of a child. This allows the Ministry to breach confidentiality under the pretext of child protection. At times, disclosure of information bear much resemblance of badmouthing. It often results in alienation of parents by neighbors, friends, peers and co-workers. Termination of employment is a common result of such disclosure and the frequent and endless need to take time off to attend supervised visitations and meetings with the Ministry.
Denial of Information Vital in CFCSA Hearings
Section 76 of CFCSA states that parents may exercise a child's rights under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and be given information about the child in a record, to consent to the disclosure of that information and to request the correction of that information.
In addition to the tactic of delaying the provision of vital information until the last minute, "child protection" workers often deny parents their right under Section 76 and refuse to release information of a child in care, alleging that parents no longer have the custody and are therefore not entitled to such information. At times, parents are required to produce proof of custody (such as court documents) before such information be released. Most parents do not have proof that MCFD finds satisfactory and are not given access to a child's information needed to prepare for CFCSA hearings.
This practice contravene Section 76 of CFCSA and deprive parents of natural justice and full disclosure of relevant information.
Res Judicata (relitigation of settled matters)
CFCSA grants absolute power to remove children from their families and compels parents to litigate child safety in court. This permits authorities to seek relitigation of settled matters under other statutes. The removal of the 14-year old sister of the Templeton Secondary School student is a good example to illustrate the foregoing. In short, this teenage student posted a hit list on the internet. He was arrested, held in custody and released on bail after a provincial court judge heard arguments from both sides and psychological assessment of and the defendant and was satisfied that the teen is not a risk to his family.
Within an hour of his release, MCFD removed his sister alleging that her brother is a risk to her safety. The family was compelled to litigate under a different act on the same safety issue which had been dealt with and settled in the bail hearing at the same provincial court.
This practice is inconsistent with the principle of res judicata, which arose as a concept and method of preventing injustice of punishing a party twice for the same wrongdoing in a case that has been settled and to avoid unnecessary waste of expensive court resources.
This suggests redundancy of CFCSA in view of the presence of other statutes that deal with child safety.
Redundancy of power to separate abusive parents and vulnerable children
Removal of children amounts to separation between abusive parents and vulnerable children. Real child abuse is a crime. The Criminal Code and the Mental Health Act have already given authorities power to separate abusive parents and vulnerable children. CFCSA, operates in its current modus operandi, allows authorities to circumvent due process of law and the need of good evidence. It is redundant, oppressive and counter-productive.
Assumption of safety in foster care
CFCSA emphasizes that child safety is of paramount importance. The underlying assumption in this Act is that children are safe in foster care. Despite overwhelming empirical evidence (below) that children are more likely to suffer abuse in foster homes, judges, in their infinite wisdom, often err on the side of caution and order removed children be placed in foster home (a known safe place in their books). Our views on this issue can be found in our "foster home" page.
Risk Comparison of Child Protective Services (CPS) Run Foster Homes and Parental Homes in the U.S.
Abuse per 100,000 children
Type of Abuse
risk in CPS higher by
[(a)/(b) x 100%]
Source: National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (1998)
Other Life Threatening Risk
Children in foster care are at a greater risk of suicide, the increased risk of suicide is still prevalent after leaving foster care and occurs at a higher rate than the general population. In a small study of twenty-two Texan youths who aged out of the system, 23% had a history of suicide attempts.
Children in foster care have an overall higher mortality rate than children in the general population. A study conducted in Finland among current and former foster children up to age 24 found a higher mortality rate due to substance abuse, accidents, suicide and illness. The deaths due to illness were attributed to an increased incidence of acute and chronic medical conditions and developmental delays among children in foster care.
The late Georgia Senator Nancy Schaefer
published a report "The Corrupt Business of Child Protective Services" stating:
"The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in 1998 reported that six times as many children died in foster care than in the general public and that once removed to official “safety”, these children are far more likely to suffer abuse, including sexual molestation than in the general population".
Plan of care litigated at a court of law
Courtroom is a battlefield where opposing parties argue, attack each other and attempt to win judicial support of one's position. Judges are not trained to decide on family therapy. Few would find adversarial court an appropriate place to discuss plan of care for children. CFCSA seems to have ignored this fundamental nature of court and obliges plan of care be ultimately decided by judges when both parties cannot reach an agreement. Supervision orders stipulated in various sections of CFCSA are mainly of this nature. Legislators had picked the wrong venue to find solutions for a complex problem.
The legislative intent of CFCSA appears to be protecting children. While Section 2(b) of CFCSA recognizes that a family is the preferred environment for the care and upbringing of children and the responsibility for the protection of children rests primarily with the parents, there is no provision in the entire Act to:
empower and support parents to carry out their responsibilities independently;
- allow the court to punish "child protection" workers if they commit perjury, abuse their authority to force admission of guilt, neglect their duty of care for children in foster homes, ... etc.;
- protect parents when the Ministry fails to comply with the Act and abuses its authority, CFCSA Regulations and policy.
The absence of such provision contradicts a material guiding principle and is inconsistent with the concept of equity in law. On the other, the Ministry is given all the power, resources and leeway. This not only creates an absolute power and injustice but also also renders provincial court judges powerless to punish Ministry's wrongdoings. This explains why there is little accountability and the observations that "child protection" workers blatantly argue with judges in court and openly disobey court orders.
Despite its sugar coating, CFCSA targets parents and families in practice. Motivated by job security and tax dollars from both federal and provincial governments, service providers aggressively hunt for new cases and unnecessarily prolong involvement as they see fit. There is no exaggeration to conclude that CFCSA was primarily written for the benefit of the child protection industry under the pretext of child protection.
Not penal in nature
CFCSA is supposed to be protecting children, not penal in nature. Instead of empowering and assisting parents to carry out their responsibilities, this Act:
permits courts (or more precisely "child protection" workers) to sever family ties, permanently remove children and adopt them to strangers, a punishment a lot more severe than any jail sentence;
allows "child protection" workers to scrutinize, abuse, belittle, conspire against and falsely incriminate parents;
obliges government to provide fundings, which turns out to be financial incentive, for various service providers work in concert to prey on families for their self-serving purposes;
deprive parents their Section 11 charter right protection by declaring CFCSA hearings are civil in nature when these matters are indeed very penal.
To most parents, CFCSA exacts the most severe and unsparing punishment law could possibly impose. Many families lost their children permanently. Some are under cross-generation MCFD scrutiny. Their children adopted to strangers. Some unlucky ones are abused or even murdered in foster homes (e.g. 5-year-old Emily Meno murdered by foster mother Joy Heaven in 2010) and adoptive homes (e.g. Jasmine and Minnet Bowman by adopted mother Renee Bowman in 2008). More information on these cases can be found in our adoption and foster homes pages.
Despite its innocent appearance, CFCSA is the worst, the most dangerous, oppressive and harmful statute one could find in British Columbia in our view.
Why CFCSA Must Be Killed Before Meaningful Reform Is Possible?
Legal skills, moral value, common sense and natural justice matter for nothing when the Ministry could make up rules as proceedings go along. "Child protection" workers can and often do the following, including but not limited to:
- retaliate if parents disagree with them or refuse to give consent to what they seek;
threaten parents not to go public to uncover the corruption using removal of children as weapon;
mount surveillance on parents, creating substantial disturbance to peace;
search a home without warrant with the assistance of police;
body search parents as they please before, during and after supervised visits (looking for recording devices for fear of their abuse on families being recorded);
falsely report to court sheriff that parents carry weapon to court (to intimidate and humiliate parents);
prohibit families from speaking in their own mother tongue during supervised visits;
- force couple to divorce or to live apart;
- seduce children of immature mind to remain in foster care using pocket money and vacations as baits;
- fabricate evidence by coercing parents to admit guilt in court or to testify against their spouse (of course, many service providers whose livelihood depends on child removal are willful partners to provide "opinions", which become evidence in court, supporting the Ministry's position);
- indoctrinate children to hate or disobey their parents and to report them if they are disciplined for doing so.
All the above are possible because of the power to remove children from their families. There is little or no accountability and no remedy.
Only when legislature desires tyranny to prevail, such indiscriminate and absolute power would have been granted to MCFD via CFCSA. This Act permits calculating bureaucrats to have more power than provincial court judges, conduct inquisition-like investigations, furnishing verdict to courts and acting above law without repercussion. CFCSA enables service providers in the child protection industry to work in concert to control the demand of their services, to judge the quality of their services, to suppress complaints using retaliatory child removal threats or acts and to use tax dollars for their self-serving purposes. Travesty in CFCSA hearings has reduced humanity to the level of brute and savagery. Dignity of parents shattered, families destroyed, children traumatized ruthlessly in unsparing hands under the pretext of child protection.
We do not need anymore inquiry from retired judges or research from academics. No meaningful reform is possible if CFCSA continues to exist for the following reasons:
Failure to serve its intended purposes
A statute has no value and could become a liability if it fails to serve its intended purpose. Special interests in the child protection industry, whose livelihood depends on state-sponsored child removal and related activities, will have no shortage of examples to argue that CFCSA works well and children are protected. We have no doubt that some children are saved in some showcase like rare occasions. Given the tax dollars at their disposal, they can easily find parents and children to go public and say good things on the industry.
What conveniently omitted are the ministry-created atrocities to families, oppression on parents whom the Ministry called clients, and above all, the negative impacts on children and society. To those who want substantiation, please browse our "Child Removal Cases" page which contains a number of wrongful child removal cases worldwide, many from a Canadian origin. One atrocity like these is one too many. There are many more cases in which victims have not gone public. It should have never happened in a civilized society, especially one that ardently speaks of human rights, justice and democracy.
Our English justice system is built on statutes interpreted by precedents (case law). CFCSA is so lopsided that parents stand little chance of winning. Judiciary has created decisions that:
supporting arbitrary removals, in Director v. M.P., 2005 BCPC 651, court consented removal and granted custody to the Ministry when:
there is no third party complaint;
the director needs not to show that the child is in immediate danger; or
the removal is in the best interests of the child.
putting the onus of proof on parents and erring on the side of caution [British Columbia (Director of Child, Family and Community Services) v. G.(R.), 2001 BCPC 32];
depriving parent's right of access after losing custody [New Brunswick (Minister of Health and Community Services) v. L. (M.),  2 S.C.R. 534];
legitimizing adoption after parental tie forcibly severed by not returning children (Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto v. M. (C.),  2 S.C.R. 165).
More child protection related cases can be found in our Law Library page. These cases are legally binding and oblige judges to rule in favor of "child protection" agencies.
Moreover, the legal process is also parent unfriendly that MCFD could use various tactics to stall the legal process and drag on for years before a case can be heard. Section 66 of CFCSA eliminates procedural technicalities and abuse of process, which frequently occur, as defence to quash CFCSA applications.
There is no immediate remedy parents could seek to rectify wrongful child removal. All complaint resolutions are merely a decoration of fairness that wear and tear parents during the process. No agency has the power to reverse the Ministry's decisions. Even orders from provincial court judges are not always carried out. We have come across many cases in which court orders are not obeyed, including decisions to return children to their parents. Judges are powerless to punish abusive "child protection" workers. The best they could do is to deny what they seek from court.
In these circumstances, no amendment of the Act could adequately rectify the problem. The only option left is to revoke CFCSA and not replacing it with statute that gives similar undue power.
Inconsistent with Canadian values
In our view, state sponsored child removal amounts to a systematic attack directed
against a civilian population that causes enforced disappearance of persons. To create maximum fear and anxiety, most parents are prohibited to know the whereabouts of removed children. Children are forbidden to tell and parents are not allowed to ask. As far as parents are concerned, their children have disappeared. Their disappearance beyond doubt is caused by the state. This meets one of the definitions of crimes against humanity stipulated in
Article 7 1.(i) of Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act (2000, c. 24), which read:
Crimes against humanity
For the purpose of this Statute, “crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
(i) enforced disappearance of persons;
Legalizing child removal by passing a statute called CFCSA under the pretext of child protection does not change the notorious nature of such activity one bit. Saddam Hussein can easily pass a bill authorizing the extermination of the Kurds using national security as an excuse when he was in power.
Such act of wanton cruelty is inconsistent with the mainstream Canadian values of compassion, fairness and civil liberty.
Oppressive, barbaric and inhumane
There are compelling reasons to believe that modern "child protection" is a derivative of the now renounced residential schools. Our views are elaborated in a separate page titled "MCFD and Native Indians". There are remarkable resemblances between the two child welfare systems. Incidentally or not, Aboriginal families remain the biggest victim by ethnic group in both regimes.
In Mr. Stephen Harper's residential school apology speech delivered in the House of Commons on 11 June 2008, all attributes of atrocity created to the First Nation apply to victims in the child protection racket. Simply replacing residential schools with state-sponsored child removal will create a perfect apology speech for future Prime Minister. No responsible government could renounce the oppressive and inhumane residential schools without renouncing its derivative "child protection".
Open government to structural corruption
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And worse, absolute power attracts the absolutely corruptible. Child protection is a noble cause that few people would oppose. This becomes an excellent pretext used for rampant expansion of power. Legislation and government policy on child protection have been perverted by special interests for a long time. Parents have little or no representation. Except those who have been harmed by the child protection industry, few would understand the negative impacts on families and society. This provides the perfect condition for special interests to aggrandize and to milk taxpayers.
In most English speaking nations where government has the power to remove child at will, corruption is often so sophisticated that there is no head to cut off. Racketeering is common in both child protection and its sister industry of adoption. Their operations are so shrewdly structured that it is almost impossible to convict perpetrators and racketeers in a court of law. Politically, they have strong influence, if not direct control, of child welfare policies and legislation. Whoever betrays the principle of accrual of power and money, others betray him. The presence of uncorrupted service providers will not rectify the problem. They either have to go with the flow or be forced out by their peers if they don't. It renders the corruption structural. Like fighting drugs, the only way to stop this corruption is by cutting off the involuntary supply of human inventory to feed the artificially created demand in the industry. Such oppressive power and harmful law have no place in a civilized society. Revoking general child removal authority by killing CFCSA is the only option.
Abuse of child removal authority and other powers
Powers granted to "child protection" workers in CFCSA are often abused by various parties for non-child protection reasons such as malice, vengeance, retribution or retaliation. As we stated before, estranged spouses, hostile in-laws or grandparents and malicious neighbors are most common examples. Even children (usually some older ones) abuse this power and use the Ministry to punish their parents if they are disciplined within the parameter of law for their wrongdoings or when their demands are not met.
Believe it or not, Crown prosecutors and the police also use this power to accomplish their goals when they run out of ammo at their disposal. For example, when the police cannot get a search warrant to enter a premise, they could use "child protection" workers if there are children living in the household. Theoretically, "child protection" workers have no legal power to enter without a search warrant as well. But they could use their power to remove children from school or day care centre as a threat. Most parents would submit.
We have also come across a case in which the Crown wanted to rescind a firearm licence, found no evidence to proceed and used the powers of "child protection" workers attempting to force confession of child abuse by removing children and blackmailing the father.
Another example is the Templeton Secondary School student case discussed before in which the Crown seeks litigation of settled matters. Of course, these are all done under the pretext of child safety under CFCSA.
Abuse of other powers explicitly granted by CFCSA or associated with child removal authority includes searching parents during supervised visits, mounting surveillance on parents, forcing parents to live apart and divorce.
Drugging removed children
Many removed children experience anxiety, fear, depression, anger or become violent after forcibly removed from home. To cover their behind, "child protection" workers and foster parents often take these children to receive medical attention when they exhibit the foregoing. These natural responses from traumatic removal are often diagnosed as mental disorder or post trauma syndrome that requires drugs and counseling. In many cases, deficiencies and abuse in their parental homes are blamed for causing the problem when it is more likely a consequence of child removal due to the drastic and sudden change in lifestyle.
When children are "in care", all their expenses are on taxpayer's tab. This includes expenses on prescription drugs. Such deep pocket permits another round of free spending on the psychotherapy industry. There are more and more complaints of "Child Protective" Services in English-speaking nations of forcing removed children to take mind-altering drugs with harmful side effects for non-medical reasons. These drugs include antidepressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, anxiety medications, anti-convulsants medications.
CFCSA does not authorize "child protection" workers to drug removed children per se. However, like many authorities not specifically mentioned in CFCSA, these bureaucrats become the de facto legal custodians and may exercise all parental authorities after removal without prior approval from any party. Nobody could stop them. Court does not make a decision a few months later at the earliest and court seldom overrules their decisions.
Edgy and jumpy children are nightmares to foster parents. It is imperative for service providers in the "child protection" industry to keep children "in care" under control and silence their desire to go home. A noteworthy observation is that judges occasionally hear secondhand hearsay information via testimonies from "child protection" workers and assessments from MCFD paid psychologists, who obviously have a vested interest in preventing prompt return of children to their families. This permits them an excuse to claim that the child's views have been heard as service providers become a child's mouthpiece. Paragraph  of Director v. K.L.R., 2010 BCPC 342 is a good example that "child protection" workers speak on behalf of removed children in court.
Once medical attention is needed, these human commodities become children with special needs which allows MCFD to spend more tax dollars on them. Depression, inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity often led to a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is a common drug used to treat ADHD. Many of these psychotropic drugs are sedative, have serious negative health impacts, and even lethal on young children.
Drugging removed children with strong psychotropic mind-altering drugs has become more common as a ruse to chemically control them while in care and to fabricate children with special needs to collect more money for service providers. Such cruel treatment on children is indirectly caused by state-sponsored child removal because "child protection" workers can do whatever they like on their seized human properties.
High social costs
Costs to society can be categorized under the following headings:
- High taxes
To support an excessively large, non-productive bureaucracy and special interests who prey on tax dollars, government is shrewd, aggressive and devious in raising revenue. Generating income through taxation requires legislative approval, which will inevitably attract scrutiny. If not done properly, it may carry political consequences (the stepping down of Gordon Campbell because of instituting the unpopular HST is a good example). To circumvent check and balance and the attention of watchdogs, Crown corporations with power to levy are created. CEO of these corporations (usually those in good relationship with elected officials) are appointed (not elected) and therefore have the free hand to rip off taxpayers at will. Transit Link and the GVRD are products of this nature. If you don’t believe this, check you hydro bill. There is an item called regional transit levy. It is a tax, isn’t it?
It follows that a high tax regime is necessary to support this oppressive and counter productive system. In essence, the child protection scheme is merely a racket that transfers wealth from taxpayers to support the live style of service providers at the expense of destroying families in many cases.
- Costly to deal with the aftermath
Reena Virk of Victoria, B.C. was murdered in 1997 while receiving the "services" of MCFD
In addition to tax, society pays a high price in dealing with the aftermath. Many families face cross generation scrutiny from the Ministry. Removed children often become a burden to society for the rest of their life. Many become criminals, homeless or mentally disabled (due to a lack of parental love and abuses in foster homes) that cost society a high price to fix. To those who do not think that this problem concerns them, the crook who break into your home may be a product of child removal.
Abuse, negligence, extortion, wrongful deaths of children in care open government to lawsuits and expose taxpayer to contingent liabilities. Lawsuits at times could also filed by service providers, notably foster parents. A former foster parent in Burnaby, British Columbia, Teresa Iezzi, went public to The Province on 11 May 2009, just one day before the provincial election. She alleged that she contracted Hepatitis C from an attack of foster child under her care and her foster parenting contract was terminated by MCFD as a result of this. She is seeking apology and financial compensation of an unspecified amount from MCFD. It is noteworthy to remark that she was earning $7,500 per month, which was her main source of income while fostering children removed by MCFD. Assuming that her income was the same at the onset of her fostering business 22 years ago, she had earned $1,980,000 from taxpayers.
Of course, birth parents often sue when they are abused and their children harmed. Taxpayers narrowly escaped the lawsuit contemplated by Manjit and Suman Virk, the parents of Reena Virk of Victoria, B.C. who was murdered in 1997 while receiving the "services" of MCFD due to an actionable time limit issue.
Excessive number of families torn apart
To give an indication of how high the number of B.C. foster children in comparison with other jurisdictions, related statistics (as at the time indicated in the table) with those of Hong Kong and Japan are listed below. Sources of data are linked in blue text in the table below. They include:
Social Welfare Department, The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
Foster Parents in New Role as Population Slumps by Suvendrini Kakuchi;
Ministry of Children and Family Development, British Columbia, Canada;
British Columbia Stats;
U.S. Department of State;
Maps of World.
|No. of Foster Homes
|No. of Children in Foster Homes
10,181 (page 21 of the linked report)
|No. of foster children per capita
|No. of foster children per 1,000 persons
|No. of children per foster home
Be mindful that social workers in Hong Kong and Japan have no power to remove children from their families. The number of children in care per capita in B.C. is over 17 times higher than that in Hong Kong. Does this mean that our parents are 17 times worse than those in Hong Kong? No. This is an indication of how successful service providers in the child protection industry are in creating a demand of their services in a regime where government has the power to remove children.
Another noteworthy remark is the ratio of foster homes to foster children. Hong Kong has achieved almost a 1 to 1 ratio. According to "Foster Family Month 2011" published by MCFD, the number of foster homes in B.C. is 3,255 in 2011. Our ratio in B.C. is 3.13. However, from our observation and interaction with parents, many foster homes in B.C. have 3 to 6 foster children at any one time. These homes are more like warehouses. This lends further support that foster homes are a business rather than a community service. Of course, federal and provincial governments provide subsidies like Children's Special Allowances (CSA, a tax-free monthly federal payment made to agencies, institutions and foster parents who are responsible for the care and education of children under 18 who physically reside in Canada and who are not in the care of their parents) and foster care payments. These financial incentives have attracted many foster parents who simply want to earn a living on fostering.
- Impacts on the judiciary
The Ministry's hearing scheduling tactic bogs the court with numerous long hearing bookings. Many trial dates set are canceled in the last minute at the discretion of the Ministry for various reasons (most common reasons are diverting to mediation and returning children in some weak cases to avoid hearing and scoop them up later).
Furthermore, service providers in the child protection industry, most notably foster parents and "child protection" workers, often file restraining orders against parents. This suggests subconscious paranoia of reprisal from parents. Why these people would fear if they truly serve the best interests of families? This prevents scarce and expensive court time from being used efficiently. Many criminal charges are dismissed because of breaching the accused's Section 11(b) charter right to be tried within a reasonable time due to trial scheduling difficulty. Hence, many criminals walk free unpunished. The decision of stay of proceedings in R. v. H.S.O., 2010 BCPC 15 cited by the pseudo watchdog in The Impact of Criminal Justice Funding Decisions On Children in B.C. on 29 March 2012 proves our point.
On another note, the following have caused a loss of faith in both government and the courts:
- lack of judicial power or if such power exists, the unwillingness to use judicial power, to oblige the Ministry to obey court orders;
- the lopsided attitude of the judiciary ruling in favor of the Ministry citing reasons like erring on the side of caution to place children in known safe place; and
the admissibility of forced confession as evidence have brought the administration of justice into disrepute.
Consumption of police resources
Obliged by various CFCSA provisions, police is frequently called to assist "child protection" workers in carrying out their duties. A squad of at least two police officers, often a male and a female, escorts them in unannounced visits. If the family under scrutiny is not home, scarce police manpower is inevitably wasted.
Furthermore, one common MCFD tactic is to provoke parents to act out of character so that criminal charges can be laid in support of CFCSA applications. Police and Crown prosecutors are often led, and at times aggressively lobbied, by "child protection" workers to lay charges just for lending weight to the Ministry's position. Many of these unsubstantiated charges are eventually stayed, judicially dismissed or acquitted in trial.
This is one of the most non-productive use of police resources that most decision makers overlook.
- A potential source of social unrest
Failure to curb endless expansion of bureaucratic power will result in an excessively large government. This eventually will collapse our economy when the productive elements of our nation can no longer support a nanny state government. This is one of the causes of the April-May 2010 financial crisis and social turmoil in Greece. The violent demonstration was mainly organized by unions who protested government cutbacks. Demonstrators set fire. Three persons, including one pregnant woman, were killed inside a bank. The Greek crisis is a warning to Canada. If our government does not mend its free-spending habit, eliminates unnecessary or even harmful services, and cuts non-productive civil servants, our country will eventually go bankrupt. At this time, Canada does not have a serious problem yet because of our huge natural resources and a relatively small population. If our government keeps raising taxes to create a large bureaucracy, similar financial problems will haunt us sooner or later.
Furthermore, oppressed parents who have not been treated fairly, plundered into poverty and their children wrongfully removed, often go public, launching demonstration. If not handled properly, grievance and anger of these victims could turn into a factor that causes disharmony in society.
- Distress and undue hardship on families
Distress and hardship on parents do not appear to be a concern in CFCSA. Parents under MCFD scrutiny often (almost always) face distress (emotional distress due to forceful removal of children) and undue hardship (financial due to loss of employment or prevention to obtain gainful employment as parents are frequently required to attend meetings with "child protection" workers and supervised visitations with their children).
Ministry-created difficulties not only worsen parents' ability to care for their children but also create tension in spousal relationship (often as result of the divide and conquer tactic used by "child protection" workers) and, at times, with extended family members. Paragraph  of Director v. K.L.R., 2010 BCPC 342 illustrates how tension was built between a mother and her parents after MCFD intervention.
- Outright Rejection from intended beneficiaries
While the true beneficiaries of CFCSA are service providers in the child protection industry whose livelihood depends on the enforcement of the Act, the legislative intended beneficiaries are families. Few parents find CFCSA acceptable and helpful. Due to the fear of retaliation, most parents will not go public to voice their grievance, the abuse they have suffered and the resentment of having their families torn apart by MCFD intervention.
Existence of organizations like ours suggests that "child protection" does not meet the approval of families whom the Ministry calls clients. There are many organizations that share the similar view nationwide and many more worldwide. Some of them are listed below:
How can CFCSA serve families well if most parents under MCFD scrutiny reject it outright?
Many Canadians believe that the problems associated with the Ministry is caused by a lack of funding and insufficient power. In our view, too much funding and power have been given to the wrong hands. Giving bureaucrats absolute power to remove children and finance this activity with tax dollars is like providing a loaded gun and financial incentive for some one to shoot you. Absolute power seldom serves society well. That's why we have anti-monopoly law to combat rampant expansion and aggrandizement of one party and leave room for the underdogs to survive. Likewise, a balance of power is necessary to preserve justice and to empower parents to care for their children. After all, "child protection" workers are supposed to help, not to act as secret police and punish parents as they see fit. Why they need such oppressive power to help families?
Child removal authority can be used to target a person or a group of people. In the short history of Canada (144 years at the point of writing), this authority has been seriously abused in a grand scale during the residential schools era and in numerous individual cases like those discussed in our "Child Removal Cases" page in modern time. One is no less hideous and oppressive than the other. Government has track record in abusing this authority under the pretext of child welfare and protection. Only fools would continue to trust this bureaucracy. Ironically, CFCSA has created the largest institutional risk to the safety of children and the integrity of families.
No law could prevent child abuse. Repealing CFCSA will not compromise real child protection. There are other statutes that give authorities sufficient power to protect children based on good evidence and due process of law. CFCSA is redundant and counter-productive. It serves the best interests of service providers a lot more than those of children.
Children are our hope and future. Families are the backbone of a nation. State-sponsored child removal seriously jeopardizes our safety, freedom and national security. No responsible government could turn a blind eye to the ministry-created atrocity. Formidable, oppressive and unsparing child removal power subjugates the entire population to an unthinkable White Terror (Terreur blanche). As long as our government retains such power, bureaucrats can walk into your home with the assistance of police without a court order, remove your children as they see fit, bankrupt you by compelling you to attend endless court hearings and adopt your children to stranger. Parents are a phone call away from losing their children. They are extremely vulnerable when their child has an unexplained injury or simply happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time (see An unnamed Edmonton mother went public after her infant died in care on 11 April 2011 case). It is safe to contend that CFCSA creates much more problems than it solves.
Problems created by the child protection industry have become epidemic, malignant, and global in most English-speaking nations. It is a social cancer that we, citizens of Canada, must fight back. If we don't, we are irresponsible to our children. How are we going to leverage this disease back in favor of parents? There is only one practical solution: revoke child removal authority. Minorities are particularly vulnerable to such oppressive power. Most of them are unsuspecting immigrants who came to Canada to pursue a better and safer future for their children. Act before it is too late. Don't wait until your loved one fall prey.
How many more children must die in foster homes before elected officials will act? We plea to our government that CFCSA be repealed in its entirety without delay and not replaced by any statute that grants general child removal authority. Those who have the power but fail to do so are as guilty as those who cause the perpetration. For the love of our children and our nation, do the right thing now. The world will be much better without CFCSA and British Columbia would be one step closer to truly become the best place on Earth.