Released on December 2, 2014
The Government of Saskatchewan is pleased to announce the official launch of a program that will help ensure the voices of children and youth are heard.
The Public Guardian and Trustee Amendment Act, 2014 (No. 2) goes into effect today, which establishes the Counsel for Children program. This new program is intended specifically for situations where children and youth benefit from having their views and best interests represented in child protection proceedings by independent legal counsel.
“The Counsel for Children supports the rights of children defined by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Gordon Wyant said. “Through this program, we recognize children have their own unique perspective that should be taken into account in child protection matters.”
Counsel will be appointed by the Public Guardian and Trustee from a roster of trained lawyers upon request from the court, or on referral from the child, a family member, or another concerned person. Counsel for Children can assist all parties with an early resolution by focusing on the child or youth’s perspective, which will reduce the need to go to court.
The program was created in response to a recommendation made by the Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth.
“With this program’s launch, a child or young person involved in a protection hearing will have a lawyer to represent them, and help them share their opinions if they are able to articulate them,” Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth Bob Pringle said. “That’s critical to respecting their rights.”
The Counsel for Children is a component of the Saskatchewan Child and Family Agenda, which invests in meeting the needs of children, youth and families.
“This program is an excellent example of the Government of Saskatchewan’s cross-ministry approach to helping our province’s most vulnerable citizens – our children,” Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer said. “We all share the belief that our children must come first in all we do and the decisions we make.”
To contact the Counsel for Children, call 1-877-787-5424, or look online at www.justice.gov.sk.ca/cfc.
For more information, contact: