To increase professional awareness and knowledge about a duty to report, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Assistant Deputy Minister’s Office, Policy Development and Program Design Division, have asked the College to share the following information with physiotherapists.

This is in light of the death of a child in 2013: On September 9, 2013, a Coroner’s Inquest into the 2002 death of a young child who had involvement with the child protection system in Ontario began. In February 2014, the Inquest jury provided its verdict and recommendations to the Ontario government. Of the 103 recommendations, four focus on the duty to report child abuse and neglect as set out in the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA). The Inquest jury also recommended that the Ministry of Children and Youth Services further promote public and professional awareness to ensure suspected child abuse and neglect are consistently reported across the province.

It is important that physiotherapists are aware of the following information:

The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) recognizes that the public, including professionals who work with children, must promptly report any suspicions that a child is or may be in need of protection directly to a Children’s Aid Society. This is called one’s “duty to report.”

The Child and Family Services Act states that people working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse or neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions.

Under the Act, persons who perform professional or official duties with respect to children include:

  • Health care professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and psychologists
  • Teachers and school principals
  • Social workers and family counsellors
  • Religious leaders, including priests, rabbis and members of the clergy
  • Operators or employees of child care centres
  • Youth and recreation workers (not volunteers)
  • Peace officers and coroners
  • Child and youth service providers and employees of these service providers
  • Any other person who performs professional or official duties with respect to a child

Professionals should never hesitate to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It is their legal duty to make a report to a Children’s Aid Society where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection.

Any professional or official who fails to report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $1,000, if this information is gathered in the course of their professional or official duties. The Child and Services  Family Act specifies that a person who acts in accordance with the duty to report is protected from civil actions, unless the person acts maliciously or without reasonable grounds for the suspicion.

For contact and other information for all Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies, visit the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies’ website at: www.oacas.org.

You can also locate a Children’s Aid Society by calling 411.

Please direct your questions to Jill Dubrick, Manager of the Prevention and Protection Services Unit, Child Welfare Secretariat, Ministry of Children and Youth Services at Jill.M.Dubrick@ontario.ca or call 416-326-0273.

For more information and resources: Visit the http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/english/childrensaid/reportingabuse/index.aspx website.