Bill 57 2016
An Act to enshrine Katelynn's Principle as the guiding principle for decisions affecting children
Katelynn Sampson was seven years old when she died from being brutally abused over many months by her legal guardians. Many factors contributed to Katelynn's vulnerable situation and to her case not being addressed by authorities.
The jury in the coroner's inquest into the death of Katelynn Sampson made 173 recommendations for preventing another tragic death. The first recommendation, referred to as Katelynn's Principle, places children at the centre of decisions affecting them. The jury requested that all parties to the Coroner's Inquest ensure that Katelynn's Principle apply to all services, policies, legislation and decision-making affecting children.
Therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:
1. In this Act,
"child" means a person under the age of eighteen years.
2. This Act applies with respect to any person's power or duty to make decisions under Ontario legislation affecting children, including decisions relating to,
(a) child welfare services within the meaning of the Child and Family Services Act;
(b) the justice system; and
(c) the education system.
3. The following principles, collectively known as Katelynn's Principle, shall be applied in making a decision affecting a child:
1. The child must be at the centre of the decision.
2. The child is an individual with rights. The child must always be seen, the child's voice must be heard, and the child must be listened to and respected.
3. The child's heritage must be taken into consideration and respected. Attention must be paid to the broad and diverse communities the child identifies with, including communities defined by matters such as race, ethnicity, religion, language, and sexual orientation.
4. Actions must be taken to ensure that a child who is capable of forming their own views is able to express those views freely and safely about matters affecting them.
5. The child's views must be given due weight in accordance with the child's age and maturity.
6. In accordance with the child's age and maturity, the child must be given the opportunity to participate before any decisions affecting the child are made, whether the participation is direct or through a support person or representative.
7. In accordance with the child's age and maturity, the child must be engaged through honest and respectful dialogue about how and why decisions affecting them are made.
8. Every person who provides services to children or services affecting children is a child advocate. Advocacy may be a child's lifeline and it must occur from the point of first contact and on a continuous basis thereafter.
4. This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.
5. The short title of this Act is the Katelynn's Principle Act (Decisions Affecting Children), 2016.
The Bill enacts the Katelynn's Principle Act (Decisions Affecting Children), 2016. The Act requires that any person making a decision under Ontario legislation affecting children must apply Katelynn's Principle when making the decision.