The act's accompanying regulations will remain available for public review until February 15
The provincial government of New Brunswick has announced the implementation of the Child and Youth Well-Being Act and its accompanying regulations.
Social Development Minister Jill Green expressed satisfaction with the early proclamation of the new legislation, stating, "The Child and Youth Well-Being Act marks a significant update to the 40-year-old Family Services Act. Notably, it extends support to children in care up to age 26, compared to the previous age limit of 19. The act also incorporates provisions for periodic reviews, ensuring its relevance to the evolving needs of the community it serves."
The act aims to provide a progressive and comprehensible legal framework. Key features include:
- Streamlining court processes to enhance flexibility.
- Acknowledging the importance of maintaining a child or youth's connection to their family, culture, and community, particularly for Indigenous youth.
- Prioritizing placement within a child's community whenever possible.
- Granting increased decision-making authority to relatives caring for a child or youth.
- Improving information-sharing among relevant stakeholders.
The early proclamation of the legislation was prompted by an oversight that resulted in a legislative gap between repealing pertinent sections of the Family Services Act in December and implementing the Child and Youth Well-Being Act. Despite this, officials assure that no adverse effects were experienced by children or youth during this period.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Hugh J. Flemming affirmed the government's commitment to child protection, stating, "The safety of vulnerable children remains our top priority. Immediate action was taken upon discovering the legislative gap to rectify the situation."
Efforts are underway to address any potential legal implications arising from the gap period, with plans to introduce retrospective legislation in the upcoming legislative session.
Public consultation remains essential in the legislative process, with the act's regulations open for review until February 15. The act includes provisions for periodic reviews, with the first scheduled five years after its proclamation, followed by subsequent reviews every seven years after that.