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CHILD PROTECTION - Placing the child in a place of safety - Custody with non-parent

Monday, May 11, 2020 @ 9:19 AM  


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Appeal by the mother from a parenting order directing the placement of her child with an extended family member. The mother and her partner had a history of interventions by child welfare agencies in Nova Scotia and Alberta. At various times, the mother was offered services to assist with mental health challenges, addiction, partner violence and inadequate parenting. The couple’s relationship ended, and the Minister received referrals regarding a deterioration of the mother’s mental health. An application pursuant to the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) for temporary care and custody proceeded in conjunction with an extended family member’s action under the Parenting and Support Act (PSA). The CSFA proceeding was dismissed. The trial judge found that, given the mother’s ongoing mental health difficulties, the child’s best interests were consistent with relocation to Saskatchewan to reside with the respondent, HO, under the PSA. The judge found that the placement with HO provided stability, maintained a family connection and did not preclude a future role for the mother. The mother appealed, seeking the placement of the child in her care.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The judge did not err in failing to find a breach of the Minister’s legislative mandate to develop and provide services to families. The evidence did not support an improper agenda to provide the child continuity of contact with HO, a family member who was a former caregiver. No information was inappropriately shared with HO. Each review hearing, and the order that ensued, met the statutory requirements to refine the plan of care appropriately to meet the child’s best interests in the context of the evolving circumstances and the statutory deadlines. Sufficient oral reasons were provided for the judge’s decision. The judge did not fail to appreciate relevant evidence. No misapprehension of the evidence was established with respect to the mother’s mental health and a home assessment report in relation to HO. The judge considered all the relevant factors in assessing the child’s best interests. The fact that the mother disagreed with the outcome did not permit appellate interference. Ultimately, the order that resulted was to the mother’s advantage.

A.M. v. Nova Scotia (Minister of Community Services), [2020] N.S.J. No. 123, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, D.R. Beveridge, P. Bryson and C.A. Beaton JJ.A., March 19, 2020. Digest No. TLD-May112020001