Bill Would Make Marijuana Offenses ‘Child Abuse’

Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner (left), Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop and Orangeville Police Chief Joe Tomei (right) announce their support for Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop's private members bill that would consider kids growing up in marijuana grow-ops victims of child abuse. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/Toronto Sun)Toronto Police Supt. Ron Taverner (left), Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop and Orangeville Police Chief Joe Tomei (right) announce their support for Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop’s private members bill that would consider kids growing up in marijuana grow-ops victims of child abuse. (ANTONELLA ARTUSO/Toronto Sun)Exposing a youngster to illegal drug production such as a marijuana grow-op would be considered child abuse under an Ontario private member’s bill to be introduced next week.

Conservative MPP Garfield Dunlop, with the support of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) is proposing to amend the existing child protection law to add “drug endangered children” as a category in need of protection.

Toronto Police Service Superintendent Ron Taverner, chair of OACP’s Substance Abuse Committee, said Wednesday that the legislation would give police officers and child protection workers an additional legal tool to respond to the presence of children in grow-ops, meth labs and other places where illegal drugs are manufactured and trafficked.

“These children are drug endangered because they are exposed to toxic fumes which could lead to chronic respiratory disorder, neurological damage and even cancer,” Taverner said. “They’re exposed to the potential fire hazards… Some are exposed to violent crime and even organized crime.”

York Regional Police Service Supt. Wayne Kalinski said children found in these situations are currently removed but may go back to the same family later without any legal repercussions for the people who put them in danger’s way.

Dunlop said he’ll introduce his private member’s bill Monday.

– Article from Toronto Sun.


Target druggies who involve their kids: Bill

by Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

Parents and caregivers who expose kids to drug manufacturing and trafficking should be treated as child abusers, proposed legislation says.

Tory MPP Garfield Dunlop will introduce a private member’s bill Monday that would amend the Child and Family Services Act to add “drug endangered” as a category of children in need of protection.

“If we truly care about our children, we should do everything possible to prevent their exposure to the many dangers and health risk associated with making illegal drugs,” Dunlop said. “They also deserve better than growing up in a grow op or having their meals cooked in a crystal meth kitchen.”

The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police passed a motion last year to seek this additional legal tool to respond to situations where children are found living in marijuana grow operations, clandestine labs and other illegal drug dens.

Over the past five years, York Regional Police officers have been involved in 113 incidents where they’ve had to rescue children from homes where drugs were being manufactured or trafficked, Supt. Wayne Kalinski said.

“At the present time, the child may be removed from the home but when the situation improves they’re returned,” Kalinski said. “And there’s no penalty or there’s no reason for the parents not to do it again because they’re not held accountable.”

Police say Dunlop’s bill would give them an extra legal tool to hold the parents accountable.

Toronto Police Services Superintendent Ron Taverner, chair of OACP’s Substance Abuse Committee, said some children are being denied the right to a safe and normal childhood.

“These children are drug endangered because they are exposed to toxic fumes which could lead to chronic respiratory disorder, neurological damage and even cancer. They’re exposed to the potential of fire hazards — the likelihood of a fire in a grow up dwelling may be as much as 40 times greater … Some are exposed to violent crime and even organized crime,” Taverner said.

In some cases, families acting as “crop sitters” in grow ops use children as a screen to disguise the true use of the home, he said.

“Right now, the act of drug endangering a child is not classified as a form of child abuse,” he said.

Paris Meilleur, a spokesperson for Children and Youth Services Minister Laurel Broten, said the current CFSA legislation is broad-based and permits a child protection worker to take appropriate action if a child is found in the care of someone involved in drugs.

“That could certainly be reason for removal of that kid from that family,” she said.

However, the ministry is always willing to listen to advice from workers at the ground level and looks forward to the bill’s debate, she said.

– Article from Toronto Sun.

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