Ontario Passes Legislation to Strengthen Child Welfare and Improve Outcomes for Youth

News Release

Province Putting Children at the Centre of Decision-Making

Today, Ontario passed legislation to help children and youth across the province thrive and reach their full potential by strengthening and modernizing child, youth and family services.

The Child, Youth and Family Services Act makes significant changes to how Ontario provides services to children and youth in need of protection. It puts young people at the centre of decisions about their care, supports more accountable, responsive and accessible child and youth services and strengthens oversight for children’s aid societies and licensed residential services. Key areas of change in the act include:

  • Raising the age of protection from 16 to 18 to increase protection services for more vulnerable youth in unsafe living conditions, to support their education and to reduce homelessness and human trafficking
  • Making services more inclusive and culturally appropriate for all children and youth, including Indigenous and Black children and youth, to ensure every child receives the best possible support
  • Putting a greater focus on early intervention, to help prevent children and families from reaching crisis situations at home
  • Improving accountability and oversight of service providers, including children’s aid societies and licensed residential service providers, so that children and youth receive safe, consistent and high-quality services across the province.

Supporting children and youth and helping them reach their full potential is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.

Quick Facts

  • Last year, Ontario’s 38 children’s aid societies and nine Indigenous child wellbeing societies provided services to more than 113,000 families.
  • By increasing the age of protection to 18, it is estimated that an additional 1,600 youth will have access to protection services within the first full year of implementation of the Act.
  • As part of A Better Way Forward: Ontario’s 3-Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan, the province is developing a disaggregated race data collection framework, which will standardize the collection, analysis and reporting of race-based data across public institutions to address systemic racism and advance racial equality, including in the child welfare sector.
  • The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies developed the One Vision One Voice practice framework to support better outcomes for Black children and youth involved with Ontario’s child welfare system.
  • Ontario committed an additional $134 million over four years in the 2017 budget to support new initiatives in the child welfare sector, grounded in this legislation.

Additional Resources


“We listened to people across the province, including young people with experience in care, and used what we heard to strengthen services and better protect and care for Ontario’s most vulnerable young people. Our Child, Youth and Family Services Act puts children and youth at the heart of decision-making and paves the way for services that are more accountable and responsive. These changes are an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote child and family wellbeing.”

Michael Coteau

Minister of Children and Youth Services

Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act Becomes Law in Canada

News Release

New law would provide immunity from simple possession charges for those who call 911 in the case of an overdose

Opioid overdoses are claiming the lives of thousands of Canadians of all ages, and from all walks of life. The impact of the opioid crisis continues to be devastating to individuals, families and communities. Many of these deaths are preventable if medical attention is received quickly, but evidence shows that witnesses to an overdose often do not call 911 for fear of police involvement. This is why the Government of Canada has taken action to encourage and protect people who are witnessing an overdose so they can seek help, and ultimately, save lives.

The Honourable Jane Philpott, Minister of Health, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice, announced today that the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act received Royal Assent and became law. The Act provides an exemption from charges of simple possession of a controlled substance as well as from charges concerning a pre-trial release, probation order, conditional sentence or parole violations related to simple possession for people who call 911 for themselves or another person suffering an overdose, as well as anyone who is at the scene when emergency help arrives.

The Act was originally introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by MP Ron McKinnon, the original Bill sponsor and Member of Parliament for Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam.

Drug addiction is an illness that requires care and compassion like any other health condition. The Government of Canada recognizes the dedication of first responders as key players on the front line in addressing the opioid crisis. Over the past year, the federal government has been building a new approach to drug policy by working collaboratively with communities, provinces, territories and key stakeholders, including addiction experts, the medical community, first responders, Indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations, as well as Canadians with lived experience.

The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based response to Canada’s opioid crisis. For more information on what the Government of Canada is doing to combat the opioid crisis, please visit Canada.ca/opioids.


“During an overdose, a call to 911 can often be the difference between life and death. We hope that this new law, and the legal protection it offers, will help encourage those who experience or witness an overdose to make that important call, and save a life.”

The Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

“Protecting the lives of Canadians is our most important priority. This law ensures that you can call for help when someone is having a drug overdose and stay to provide them support until emergency responders arrive with guaranteed immunity from certain charges related to simple possession of illegal drugs.”

Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Quick Facts

  • In December 2016, the Government of Canada announced the new Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy, which reinstates harm reduction as a core pillar of Canada’s drug policy.
  • The new strategy is supported by Bill C-37, which proposes to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and the Customs Act to better equip both health and law enforcement officials to reduce the harms associated with drug use in Canada.
  • The Bill would streamline the application process for supervised consumption sites in Canada and allow border officers to open international mail of any weight, should they have reasonable grounds to suspect the item may contain prohibited, controlled or regulated goods.
  • Other proposed amendments would make it a crime to possess or transport anything intended to  be used to produce a controlled substances (such as pill presses), allow for temporary scheduling of new psychoactive substances and support faster and safer disposal of seized chemicals and other dangerous substances.
  • The passing of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act complements the Government’s new drug strategy, as well as ongoing federal action on opioids and the Joint Statement of Action to Address the Opioid Crisis signed at the Opioid Summit in Ottawa last November.

Associated Links


Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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