Coronavirus: how COVID-19 is affecting the legal system. Your questions answered.

Questions and answers

Your legal questions answered

Child protection

My family is involved with MCFD in court. What's happening during COVID-19?

My family is involved with MCFD in court. What's happening during COVID-19?
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When you work with the ministry on your child’s plan of care, there are different stages in the process. Whether you’re participating in mediation, scheduling a family case conference, or waiting for a court hearing, the COVID-19 crisis could affect your next steps. Most operations of the Provincial Court of British Columbia are suspended at all locations until at least May 16, 2020.

If you’re scheduled for a child protection case conference
Child protection case conferences scheduled between March 16 and May 16, 2020, are delayed. You'll receive notification by May 4, 2020, about the next date you must got to court.

If your child has been removed and you have a date for a court hearing
The initial presentation hearing or protection hearing will go ahead at the scheduled time and day (or on the court “list day”) by phone.

If you aren’t sure whether you’re at a hearing or conference stage
Contact your social worker or lawyer to check if you need to attend court by phone or if court has been delayed. It’s really important you don’t miss your court hearing. If you don’t have access to a telephone, talk to your social worker or lawyer to figure out a solution.

If you think your matter is urgent
Only new urgent family matters will go ahead. If a judge decides a matter is urgent, a hearing/trial will be scheduled with everyone attending by phone. This includes applications for supervision orders and extensions of time, and any other urgent motions or hearings. If you think your matter is urgent, apply using the Application for an Urgent Hearing form. Then send it:

If you need help with your case
No matter which stage you’re at in the child protection process, you can get help. If there's a Parents Legal Centre in your community, call them to get help by phone. These centres have free lawyers and advocates to help parents deal with a social worker's concerns about their children's safety. Or call the Legal Aid BC Call Centre for where to find legal aid services in your community.

I'm a First Nation youth living on reserve and will age out of care during COVID-19. What help can I get?

I'm a First Nation youth living on reserve and will age out of care during COVID-19. What help can I get?
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First Nation youth won't age out of care during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government announced it will cover the costs for First Nations child and family services agencies to continue to support youth who are in the on-reserve system. See the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development website for information.

Gladue reports

I'd like to have a Gladue report for my court appearance. Can I get one during COVID-19?

I'd like to have a Gladue report for my court appearance. Can I get one during COVID-19?
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Yes, you can get a Gladue report prepared during COVID-19. To get a Gladue report, ask your lawyer to submit a request to Legal Aid BC. The Gladue writer assigned to prepare your report will interview you by phone. In-person interviews can’t be done at this time due to COVID-19 precautions. It may take more than 8 weeks to get your report because of delays in the criminal justice system.

Parenting

My child is in foster care. How does COVID-19 affect our visits?

My child is in foster care. How does COVID-19 affect our visits?
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During the pandemic, the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) has said in-person visits are suspended and replaced by virtual visits. You can ask to maintain connections with your children in caregivers’ homes by phone and Skype visits. You may have exceptional circumstances that require in-person visits. Please see the MCFD bulletin for more details.

 

I have a legal question that's not answered here: contact aboriginal@lss.bc.ca

Get other help

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line — Free, experienced, and culturally competent help — Call 1-855-242-3310 (24 hours every day)


Page last updated: Tuesday, May 5, 2020, 4:15 hrs