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The Justice Building on Queen Street in Fredericton. Image: Brad Perry

Appeal court to weigh in on child protection legislation ‘gap’

By Brad Perry Jan 31, 2024 | 11:41 AM

New Brunswick is asking the province’s top court to weigh in on a weeks-long “gap” in child protection and adoption legislation.

The government brought forward the Child and Youth Well-Being Act to modernize part of the 40-year-old Family Services Act.

But the province said an “error” meant sections of the old act were repealed in December before the new legislation could be proclaimed and brought into effect.

The province was forced to proclaim the new legislation earlier than anticipated last Thursday to close the “legislative gap.”

Attorney General Ted Flemming said “questions have arisen concerning the legal status of certain actions taken” under the Family Services Act between Dec. 13 and Jan. 26.

“To get authoritative answers on these questions the Office of the Attorney General requested the lieutenant-governor in council to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal for hearing and consideration,” Flemming said in a statement Tuesday.

The province has asked the Court of Appeal to determine whether child protection provisions remained in effect during this period and whether the court has jurisdiction to address the possible gap.

Flemming said Friday that the “error” did not lead to any children or youth being negatively impacted.

Protecting children “is of paramount importance” and “the safety of vulnerable children has been maintained,” he said.

“As soon as the department became aware of the error, we acted to have it corrected,” Flemming said in a Friday news release.