Friday, March 22, 2013

Consequences of Loitering

My name is John and I’m 14 years old. I live with my mother and my little brother. My mother usually allows us to chill with friends only when we have completed our homework, except she works at night so I often meet up with my friends when she is at work. She has no idea that I leave the house so late at night though. Often times, my friends and I hang out, ride our bikes and skateboard around the plaza’s parking lot right by my house. On several occasions security guards approach us and escort us off the property. They constantly escort us out of there and remind us that we were loitering, warning us not to return. We didn’t take their orders seriously and one night at around one in the morning when my friends and I were hanging out in the parking lot of the plaza the security guards caught us. This time, the security guard brought us home and spoke to our mothers. I got in a lot of trouble but I didn’t even know I was doing anything wrong? How come the security guard took me home? Why is my mother so mad?

Section 79 (5) of the Child and Family Services Act, states that parents of children under sixteen cannot permit their children to be out without an authorized adult in public places between midnight and six am.  If parents or a designated adult are with the child in the public place, then it is okay and they can be out late.  But it is actually illegal for kids under age 16, like John, to be “loitering” in a public place or at a “place of entertainment” without a parent or designated adult between midnight and 6am. John was returned home to his parents because section 79(6), authorizes the security guard to return the child to a safe place.

John will not be arrested nor charged for loitering on public property at one in the morning, but there are possible consequences for his mother.  The Child and Family Services Act gives police the power to apprehend a child without a warrant if they find the child without a parent/adult in a public place between 12am and 6am.  Often, the police simply bring the child back to their parents’ home, as was the situation in which the security guard returned John to his home. However, depending on the circumstances and the level of concern for the child's well-being, the police do have the power to bring John into the care of a Children’s Aid Society, who can then commence child protection proceedings in court. This could affect John’s mother’s custody rights. The lack of attention that she was paying to John's actions could result in her being held liable. In other words, it can be very serious and this is likely why John’s mother was very upset.

Child and Family Services Act: Section 79

Allowing child to loiter, etc.
(5) No parent of a child less than sixteen years of age shall permit the child to,
(a) loiter in a public place between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.; or
(b) be in a place of public entertainment between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., unless the parent accompanies the child or authorizes a specified individual eighteen years of age or older to accompany the child.

Police may take child home or to place of safety
(6) Where a child who is actually or apparently less than sixteen years of age is in a place to which the public has access between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. and is not accompanied by a person described in clause (5) (b), a peace officer may apprehend the child without a warrant and proceed as if the child had been apprehended under subsection 42 (1).
This blog scenario was written by Deqa Abdi, a volunteer on the JFCY's PLE Team. The legal content was written by Lauren Grossman, a first year law student at the University of Toronto who is volunteering at JFCY as the PLE team leader through her law school's Pro Bono Students Canada program. All legal content was reviewed by a JFCY lawyer. JFCY's legal content is based on the laws in Ontario relevant to youth under the age of 18. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Youth Employment Rights

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets out the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers in Ontario.
According to the ESA, young workers have the same rights as other employees in most Ontario workplaces. It is important to know that the minimum age for working in Ontario is 14 years old in most types of workplaces.
Regulations specify higher minimum ages for certain types of work and workplaces. For example, working in the kitchen at a restaurant requires you to be at least 15 years old. You also have to be at least 15 to work in laundries, shipping and receiving areas in grocery stores, automotive service garages, produce and meat preparation areas, and warehouses.

As long as John is above the age of 14, he will be legally allowed to work in the record store.


Minimum wage is the lowest hourly wage an employer can pay employees. Employers must pay most employees, including young workers, at least the minimum wage.
The minimum wage rate for a certain job can depend on what kind of work an employee is doing and how old the employee is.  In Ontario, there is a general minimum wage rate that applies to most employees. There is also a student minimum wage rate that applies to many students under the age of 18. Students must be paid at least the student minimum wage if they are under 18 and they:
  • work no more than 28 hours a week when school is in session, or
  • work during a school holiday (for example, March break, Christmas break, summer holidays)
As John is a high school student and working during holiday time, his employer will have to pay him student minimum wage. 

Student minimum wage rate is $9.60 per hour (current as of March 18th, 2013)

This is John´s situation and $9.60 is the minimum amount he should be paid for each hour he works at the record store. John’s employer is paying John the appropriate, legal minimum wage for his age and the hours he works. 

Students who work more than 28 hours a week when school is in session are entitled to the general minimum wage. General minimum wage rate is $10.25 per hour.
If John decides to take on more hours during the school year, $10.25 is the amount that John should be paid per hour.
**There are some exceptions to the minimum wage requirements. 
  • If you are participating in a high school “co-op” or work experience program authorized by the school board that operates your school
  • If you are a college or university student performing work through your school program
  • If you are training for certain occupations such as architecture, law, professional engineering, medicine, optometry
  • If you are a student employed to instruct or supervise children and a person employed as a student at a camp for children (like a camp counselor)

Ontario has 9 public holidays: New Year's Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day

Most employees who qualify are entitled to take these days off work and be paid public holiday pay. They can agree in writing to work on the holiday and they will be paid: (a) public holiday pay plus premium pay for the hours worked on the public holiday; or their regular rate for hours worked on the holiday, plus they will receive another day off (called a "substitute" holiday) with public holiday pay. If the employee has earned a substitute day off with public holiday pay, the public holiday pay calculation is done with respect to the four work weeks before the work week in which the substitute day off falls.

The Right to Refuse to Work on Public Holidays

Most employees of a retail business have the right to refuse to work on a public holiday. As John is an employee in a retail business (record store), he should have the right to refuse to work and his employer can not threaten to fire him for this refusal. Even if John agrees to work on the public holiday in writing, he can still decline to work by giving the employer at least 48 hours notice before his work on the public holiday was to begin. 

This blog scenario was written by Tony Young, a volunteer on the JFCY's PLE Team. The legal content was written by Lauren Grossman, a first year law student at the University of Toronto who is volunteering at JFCY as the PLE team leader through her law school's Pro Bono Students Canada program. All legal content was reviewed by a JFCY lawyer. JFCY's legal content is based on the laws in Ontario relevant to youth under the age of 18. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


Jasmine and Robert came to Canada on July 12 of 2011 as refugee claimants. Their older son Paul is twelve years old and Jasmine is pregnant again. When they arrived in Canada, they felt good, because they were safe and they had all that they needed: They received help for food and shelter from Ontario Works and healthcare free from the government. However, on May of 2012, they received a letter where the government told to them that since June 30 of 2012, the Interim Federal Health (IFH) would change. They did not know what kind of changes could happen, it was only when Jasmine tried to book an appointment with the family doctor for her son that she realized how things had changed. The secretary  told to her that she could not book an appointment for refugee or refugee claimant because the law had changed. With the new information, Jasmine was worried and tried to get an appointment with her gynaecologist but again the secretary told Jasmine that she could not book an appointment,  for the same reason that the family doctor´s secretary had told to her. Jasmine and Robert are really worried. Their son has a sugar problems and if he does not receive medical treatment on time, later he may develop Diabetes.


The (IFH) Interim Federal Health program provides access to refugees and refugee claimants who need healthcare for a period of time, and who generally have no other way of obtaining necessary health benefits.  

On April 25th, 2012 the Federal government announced cuts to most healthcare benefits for refugees that are currently provided by Canada’s Interim Federal Health (IFH) program, effective on June 30, 2012.

The changes to the IFH program include cutting access to essential medication, cuts to basic primary health care, cuts to dental care, vision care and cuts to mobility devices like wheelchairs, for many classes of refugees.  Healthcare services to be cut include prenatal care, child health check-ups and access to mental health care.   Most refugees are now only entitled to basic emergency care - they are not entitled to medication or vaccines unless their condition is deemed to pose a threat to public health.


These cuts to the IFH program will leave some of Canada’s most vulnerable children and youth without access to primary and preventive health care. Many will have experienced horrific trauma and persecution and their families endured great hardship to come to our safe country. In some cases, these children may be without health insurance for many years. Certain refugee claimants in Canada will even be denied coverage for emergency health services. These changes will not only gravely impact the short- and long-term health of refugees living in Canada but also result in increased financial, health and societal costs to the Canadian public as a whole. The changes to IFH contravene the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and will also deny what is deemed a fundamental right to Canadian society; access to basic health care.

How will the changes impact the immediate and long term health of children and youth?

First of all, how will the changes impact the immediate health of children and youth? Ending coverage for basic health care will result in no access to care for the diagnosis and treatment of common illnesses including infections.[1] Chronic medical conditions that are routinely present in early childhood such as asthma and inflammatory bowel diseases may be diagnosed late, or not at all. Early intervention for these conditions prevents hospitalizations and maintains good health, whereas delays may result in serious consequences. 

In addition, there will be no ability to diagnose and manage mental health conditions which are known to affect child refugees at higher rates due to trauma related to the refugee experience. Also, cuts means that children and youth do not have access of the preventive health screening, which will result in a failure to diagnose problems such as developmental delays, vision and hearing disabilities all of which require early intervention. Finally, lack of coverage for prenatal and obstetrical care, including deliveries, will most certainly lead to preventable perinatal morbidities. These could include increased rates of prematurity, low birth weight, uncontrolled gestational diabetes, brain damage, or worst neonatal deaths.

Secondly, how will the changes impact the long-term health and productivity of children and youth? Given the proven link between primary health care in the early years and later adult health, the IFH changes will definitely affect the overall health and well-being of these children and youth. Children’s health and well-being also declines if parents have uncontrolled chronic medical or psychiatric conditions: If parents are ill, they may not be capable of optimally parenting and caring for their children. The long-term medical and developmental problems resulting from lack of prenatal and obstetrical care will lead to otherwise avoidable costs to the health and social systems.[2]

How do the changes contravene Canadian and international conventions?

One of the basic tenets of Canadian society has been and remains universal access to health care. The primary objective of the Canada Health Act is “to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.”[3] The proposed changes to the IFH program will effectively deny this tenet to some of the most vulnerable children and youth living in our country. This is despite a previous praise Canada's refugee system received from the UN High Commission for Refugees citing Canada’s “willingness to accept a range of refugees, including urgent protection cases and those with high medical needs, as a strength of the system.”

As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada has agreed that all children and specifically children living in Canada have the basic rights to life, survival and development of their full potential. Article 24 emphasizes “the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attain able standard of health” and to have access to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. It states that “signing parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health."

For more information visit:

[1] Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Refugees: Health Care

[2] Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006. Chapter 24: Well-baby care in the fi 13.  rst 2 years of life (Pediatric Preventive Care), in The Canadian Guide to Clinical Preventive Health Care:

[3] Canada Health Act:

This post was written by JFCY PLE Team volunteer Lina Maria Sanchez.  The views and explanation of the IFH  cuts are those of Lina Maria and not JFCY

Friday, March 8, 2013

Evidence in the Criminal Law

In crime dramas like CSI, we often notice police officers gathering large amounts of weapons and shell in clear plastic bags. These bags have ‘evidence’ clearly marked on their cover, and are later used to convict the suspect. Driving past a real world crime scene, we similarly observe police officers sectioning off pieces of land or property with caution tape. This tape serves the purpose of keeping the public out of harms way, but also to ensure evidence remains unaltered from its original state. It must remain unaltered as it usually determines the guilt or innocence of the individual accused of the crime.

To put forward evidence, means to have information to be used in order to prove or disprove a certain matter of fact. 

The law of evidence uses rules and legal principles that control the proof of facts in legal proceedings. These rules and principles determine what can and cannot be considered evidence, and how much weight is to be given to each piece of evidence. Evidence law is also concerned with the type of proof, quality, and quantity required.

The law of evidence has two main purposes in our criminal justice system. Firstly, this law establishes a set of principles that work to take out facts of no use to the decision maker. In doing so, it helps decision makers like judges or the jury make unbiased conclusions. Secondly, evidence law helps reduce the large amount of information coming before the decision makers; it expedites legal proceedings. In addition, judges exercise a significant amount of discretion for what can and cannot be considered evidence during trial.

In furthering our understanding evidence, It is important to understand the burden of proof as it relates to the criminal justice system. The burden of proof is a party’s obligation to prove something is the case. In the criminal court, this burden or ‘onus’ is placed up on the Crown attorney, who must prove that an accused person has committed the alleged offence. The Crown attorney does this with the aid of evidence. In court, the accused is presumed innocent. In criminal court, the standard of proof is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. The Crown attorney must be able to prove the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt in order to get a conviction or in the youth criminal justice system a finding of guilt.

There are three different forms of evidence. The first is ‘real evidence’, which consists of things that are tangible. This type of evidence includes physical objects such as tape recordings, printouts, and photographs. In order for real evidence to be used in court, it must be relevant, and trustworthy. This also includes ‘demonstrative evidence’ such as charts, models, and experiments.

The second form of evidence is ‘documentary evidence’. This type of evidence includes digital tape recording, business and personal records, court documents, video clips, and computer records. For documentary evidence, there is a requirement that it must be the original copy or form—unless unavailable—this is called the ‘best evidence rule’. All documentary evidence is established as authentic and relevant prior to their use. This is done through the use of affidavits, or a testimony.

The third type of evidence is ‘testimonial evidence’, also known as oral evidence. This evidence is given viva voce, or through oral speech. Testimonial evidence is received through answers to questions asked mainly by Crown attorneys and Defense counsels. For instance, when a police officer is answering the questions of a lawyer on the witness stand, he or she is testifying for or against the accused. Any witness that testifies must give an oath or affirmation prior to giving their evidence, they must be personally present in court, and are subject to cross-examination.

If you are being investigated as a suspect for a criminal offence: 

Youth who are charged with an offence under the age of eighteen are dealt with in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act. It is important for young people who are accused with an offence to know that if he/she is being investigated for a charge AND HAVE NOT BEEN CHARGED he/she have no obligation to provide evidence to the investigating officer. This includes answering any questions. You have no obligation to go to a police station for questioning unless you arrested and taken to the station. Justice for Children and Youth recommends that youth to do not make a statement to the police.  The police have a burden to prove their case against you - you have no legal obligation to assist them. Anything that you say to a police officer can and will be used against you as evidence. The police officers will take notes of everything you say and provide this as evidence to the Crown attorney to be used against you. 

If you are charged with a criminal offence: 

When an accused attends to court for their first court appearance, if it is ready, they will be provided with disclosure. Disclosure is a package that includes all the evidence that was used by the police to lay the charge against the accused. This will include all of the police officers notes, any statements taken by witnesses/victims, DVD's of footage from security cameras/filmed statements, etc. In the Youth Criminal Justice System the Crown attorney is obligated to provide all disclosure to a young person who has been charged with an offence. 

Evidence has a significant role in the daily works of our criminal justice system. It ensures that all useful and valuable information gets placed in front of decision makers, like the Judge or Jury. The methods we use in court proceedings today have been developed over many decades, and attempt to ensure a fair and unbiased resolution to all legal disputes.

Information in this blogpost gathered from:
"Rules of Evidence: A Practical Approach" by: Doug Cochran, Michael Gulycz, & Mary Ann Kelly

This blog post was written by Shawn Malik, a volunteer on JFCY's PLE team. All legal content was reviewed by a JFCY staff lawyer.