This case is about the constitutionality of s. 96 of BC’s child welfare legislation, the Child, Family, and Community Service Act. Under s. 96, a director (i.e., a representative of the Minister of Children and Family Development) has the right to collect any third-party information deemed necessary to enable the director to carry out their role and responsibilities. In practical terms, this provision gives the director nearly unfettered access to information held by third parties—such as health care providers, counsellors, other service providers, and the police—about caregivers and children who are involved in the child welfare system (what West Coast LEAF calls the family policing system).

In a judicial review before the BC Supreme Court, “T.L.” said that s. 96 unjustifiably infringes ss. 7 and 8 of the Charter, which protect people from unreasonable state intrusions on their privacy. T.L. is a mother who has a mental health disability. The director removed T.L.’s children from her care because of a concern about the effects of T.L.’s mental health disability on her ability to safely parent her children. T.L. disagreed with the director’s assessment and sought the return of her children.

When deciding whether to apprehend T.L.’s children, the director used s. 96 to request and receive years of T.L.’s health and psychiatric records from several of her health care providers. In addition to challenging the constitutionality of s. 96, T.L. sought to prevent the director from relying on these records in its future decision-making or in court.

This case was heard June 2021. In a decision dated November 12, 2021, Justice Brongers found that s. 96 was constitutional and dismissed T.L.’s judicial review. T.L. has appealed the decision and the BC Court of Appeal will hear the appeal in early 2023.



West Coast LEAF was granted intervenor status in the judicial review to argue that the constitutionality of s. 96 must be assessed in the context of a colonial family policing system that disproportionately affects Indigenous families and other families who experience inequality along one or more axes of marginalization. In particular, where the director requests a parent’s health information, the director’s request could be informed by bias and stereotypes about the ability of parents with disabilities to take care of their children. Parents who experience overlapping inequalities—such as Indigenous parents with disabilities—are particularly susceptible to such discriminatory beliefs. In this context, meaningful limits on the director’s powers under s. 96 are necessary to prevent the discriminatory collection of what is often highly personal and sensitive information.

West Coast LEAF was recently granted intervenor status in the appeal before the BC Court of Appeal. We will again make submissions about the significance and relevance of the social context of the family policing system to the constitutionality of s. 96.

This intervention built on West Coast LEAF’s work across our program areas to support families engaged in the family policing system and advocate for reform. We are focused on supporting a shift from the current colonial and apprehension-based system to a system in which Indigenous children, families, and communities will thrive. Examples of this work include:


  • West Coast LEAF is an intervenor in an ongoing hearing before the BC Human Rights Tribunal, R.R. v. Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society. R.R. alleges that Vancouver Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society—a delegated Aboriginal agency of the Ministry of Children and Family Development—denied her custody of and access to her children because of discriminatory assumptions about her ability to parent as an Indigenous mother with mental health disabilities. West Coast LEAF was granted intervenor status to make submissions about the social context underlying the complaint, including systemic discrimination against Indigenous families.


  • West Coast LEAF has completed two years of a three-year project, the Child Welfare Advocacy Communities of Practice Project, which aims to build community capacity to support families engaged in the family policing The project is structured around working groups of lawyers, front-line child welfare advocates, and Indigenous family and community members, as well as a steering committee that provides strategic guidance to the working groups.






Application for Leave to Intervene – BC Supreme Court

Decision – BC Supreme Court

Application for Leave to Intervene – BC Court of Appeal




West Coast LEAF was recently granted intervenor status in the appeal before the BC Court of Appeal.