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Youth rights

Your rights (Youth Rights) | CDPDJ

Your rights

Your rights

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Children and adolescents under the age of 18 in Québec are protected by:

A child or youth who has been the subject of a report, or who is taken in charge by the Director of Youth Protection, is also protected by:

Also, a youth who has contravened a federal law or committed an offence under the Criminal Code is prosecuted under:

What does the law say?

Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms

The Charter protects the rights and freedoms of every person in Québec, regardless of their age (learn more about the Charter).

  • Fundamental rights and freedoms
  • Equality rights
  • Economic and social rights
  • Legal rights
  • Political rights

The Charter also guarantees certain rights that specifically pertain to children and adolescents, for example:

  • The right of every child to the protection, security and attention that their parents or the persons acting in their stead are capable of providing;
  • The right to free public education;
  • The right to be detained at an age-appropriate location, under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Learn more about the Charter

Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international instrument. The government of Québec became a signatory on December 9, 1991. Canada ratified the Convention a few days later, on December 13, with the approval of the provinces.

There are four principles intended to facilitate the interpretation of the rights provided in the Convention:

  1. Non-discrimination: these rights apply to all children, regardless of their race, colour, sex, language, religion, or parental situation.
  2. The child’s best interests are a primary concern in all decisions concerning the child: children’s specific needs must be met, and their rights respected.
  3. The right to life, survival and development: this includes mental, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural development.
  4. Participation: the opinion of the child must be taken into consideration with respect to decisions affecting him or her.
Read the Convention on the Rights of the Child This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.

Youth Protection Act

This Act protects all children and adolescents under the age of 18 that have been the subject of a report to the Director of Youth Protection (YPA), and whose security and development are considered to be in danger.

Parents are responsible for protecting their children and ensuring their well-being, safety, education and development. However, in some cases, parents do not act in the interests of their children; the Youth Protection Act (YPA) was adopted in order to correct these situations.

In particular, the YPA provides that:

  • The Director of Youth Protection is in charge of evaluating the situation of a child to determine if he or she is in difficulty and in need of protection.
  • All decisions made under this Act must aim at keeping the child in the family environment.
  • All decisions made must be in the interests of children and must respect their rights, such as the right to receive health services, social and education services, and to be placed in appropriate premises.
  • Children and their parents must be informed of the rights guaranteed by the Act and must be given an opportunity to be heard.
  • The persons to whom a child is entrusted must provide information and explanations in terms appropriate to the child’s age.
  • A child or youth placed in a foster family or in a rehabilitation centre must be informed of any transfer from such placement.
  • Any information collected under the Act concerning the child or the parents is confidential.
  • The DYP may not disclose the identity of a person who files a report.

The Youth Protection Act protects the following rights:

  • Right to be informed and consulted: The DYP has to inform the parents or the child who is able understand, about the measures taken when the child is transferred from a foster family or rehabilitation centre;
  • Right to legal counsel: The caseworker has to tell the youth that he or she has the right to be represented by a lawyer;
  • Right to refuse and oppose: The DYP has to inform a parent that he or she may oppose the extension of an immediate protective measure;
  • Right to adequate services: The child has to have access to the services of a psychologist as stipulated in his or her intervention plan or as ordered by the court;
  • Right to support and assistance: A mother is allowed to have the person of her choice accompany her when meeting with the DYP;
  • Right to communicate: A child has the right to communicate in all confidentiality with his or her brothers and sisters;
  • Rights as to the use of disciplinary measures while a youth is placed in an institution: Disciplinary measures that are not provided for in the institution′s internal rules can not be imposed to a youth;
  • Right to be heard: A child has the right to express his or her needs or wishes when his or her intervention plan is being drawn up. 
Read the Youth Protection Act This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window.

Youth Criminal Justice Act

This federal law applies to youth between the ages of 12 and 18 who have committed an offence under the Criminal Code This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window. or who have contravened a federal law.

  • Its purpose is to prevent youth crime and to ensure that the measures that concern adolescents promote the protection of the public and the interests of victims.
  • The youth criminal justice system is different from that of adults to the extent that it emphasizes youth rehabilitation and reintegration into society.
  • Its purpose is also to reserve the most serious measures for the most serious crimes and to reduce incarceration for non-violent youth.

In particular, the Act states that:

  • Its purpose is to promote extrajudicial measures
  • In exceptional cases, a youth court can impose an adult sentence on a youth aged 14 and over convicted of a criminal act that carries a prison sentence of two years or more.
  • A youth has the right to counsel at any stage of proceedings filed against him or her under this Act, as well as before and during any consideration of whether to use an extrajudicial sanction.
  • Parents must be informed of measures or proceedings involving their children, and be encouraged to offer them support.
  • The interests of victims must be taken into account, namely by treating them with courtesy and compassion.
  • Youths must be informed of their right to counsel when they are arrested.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act protects the following rights:

  • right to be informed and prepared when transferred from one unit to another
  • right to receive social, health and educational services
  • right to confidentiality of communication
  • right to be informed of the rules to be followed in a rehabilitation centre.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is administered by provincial directors. In Québec, directors of youth protection are responsible for the administration of this Act.

Read the Youth Criminal Justice Act  This link will redirect you to an external Website in a new window. ​​​​

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