Protection of Children
The Child and Family Services Act provides services to protect children and help parents care for their children. These services include counselling, education, financial assistance, homemaker and day care services.
Anyone with reason to believe a child is in need of protection must report the situation to the child’s parent or guardian or to a child and family services agency. If a child is in need of protection because of the actions of their parent or guardian, or if the parent or guardian is unknown, then the report must be made to an agency. Child and Family Services agency offices are listed in the Resources section of this website.
In situations involving suspected physical or sexual abuse, child and family services agencies and the police must share information and work together. The Victim Services Branch provides support to child victims and addresses the special needs of children who must give evidence in court.
Call toll free 1-866-4VICTIM (1-866-484-2846) to be connected to the victim services worker in your area.
What can parents do to protect their children?
If one parent believes their spouse or ex-spouse, or partner or ex-partner, is threatening a child’s safety, the police or an agency should be contacted immediately. The concerned parent should consider applying for a civil order of protection, a peace bond or other protective measures. If the alleged abuser has custody of the child or court ordered visits with the child (access), the court may consider changing custody, or changing or eliminating access if the judge believes it is in the best interests of the child. The concerned parent should contact a lawyer for advice and help with custody or access issues.
How do laws protect children?
Civil law allows the province to intervene to protect children. The Child and Family Services Act requires child and family services agencies and the police to take action to protect children. A child in need of protection is one whose life, health or emotional well-being is endangered by the actions or omissions of a person.
On January 1, 2020 the federal government passed a new federal law, an Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families. It applies to all Indigenous children: Inuit, Metis and First Nations, on and off reserves. It includes national standards that prevail over provincial law and are applicable to Indigenous children in relation to child and family services. Children are also protected under criminal law. The Criminal Code of Canada has a number of provisions to protect children and punish offenders. These include criminal negligence, assault and sexual assault, and sexual offences against children.
What is court like for victims of child abuse?
In Winnipeg, criminal court cases involving child abuse can be held in a special child-friendly courtroom, designed to make children feel as comfortable as possible. The witness box accommodates the presence of a support person during testimony. In addition to brightly coloured furniture, the courtroom is equipped with closed-circuit television and other useful aids in helping young, vulnerable witnesses testify. Adjacent to the courtroom is a child’s waiting room with an attached bathroom, games, toys, a television with closed captioning capacity and a TTY deaf-access telephone line.