Child Welfare Across Canada

Child welfare services fall under the mandate of provincial and territorial governments, including a rapidly expanding system of Aboriginal child welfare authorities. This section contains material related to federal initiatives concerned with child welfare services as well as statistics compiled at the national level.

All Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect reports can be found here

National - Statistics

Child Maltreatment Investigations in Canada, 1998 and 2008*

  1998 2008
Child population 6,301,295 6,022,005
Number of child maltreatment investigations 134,566 235,842
Incidence of child maltreatment investigations per 1,000 children 21.36 39.16

Type of Child Maltreatment Investigation in Canada, 2008*

  Number Rate per 1,000 children Percent
Maltreatment Investigation 174,411 28.97 74%
Risk Investigation 61,431 10.19 26%

Primary Categories of Substantiated Child Maltreatment Investigations in Canada, 2008*

Category of Maltreatment Number Rate per 1,000 children Percent
Physical Abuse 17,212 2.86 20%
Sexual Abuse 2,607 0.43 3%
Neglect 28,939 4.81 34%
Emotional Maltreatment 7,423 1.23 9%
Exposure to Intimate Partner Violence 29,259 4.86 34%

Placement in Child Maltreatment Investigations in 1998 and in Child Maltrement and Risk Investigations in Canada in 2008*

  1998 Number 1998 Rate 2008 Number 2008 Rate
Informal Kinship Care 5,851 0.93 8,713 1.45
Formal Placement 11,003 1.74 10,886 1.81

Public Health Agency of Canada. (2010). Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect 2008: Major findings (p. 122). Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from

Title Authors Yearsort icon Type
Summary Review of Aboriginal Over-representation in the Child Welfare System

Galley, Valerie J.

2010 Report
Physical punishment of children: Assessing the validity of the legal definition of “reasonable force”

Durrant, Joan
Trocmé, Nico
Fallon, Barbara
Milne, Cheryl
Black, Tara
Petrowski, Nicole

2009 Information sheet
Mediation in child welfare

Knoke, Della

2009 Information sheet
Geographic location and short-term service dispositions in Canadian child maltreatment investigations: CIS-2003

Budau, Krista
Barniuk, Jim
Fallon, Barbara
Black, Tara

2009 Information sheet
Every Image, Every Child: Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse

Bureau de l’ombudsman fédéral des victimes d’actes criminels

2009 Report
The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada, 2009: Growing Up Well - Priorities for a Healthy Future

Butler-Jones, David

2009 Report
Substance Use among Adolescents in Child Welfare versus Adolescents in the General Population: A Comparison of the Maltreatment and Adolescent Pathways (MAP) Longitudinal Study and the Ontario Student Drug Use Survey (OSDUS) Datasets

Wekerle, Christine
Leung, Eman
Goldstein, Abby L.
Thornton, Tiffany
Tonmyr, Lil

2009 Report
Are we doing enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health, 2009 edition

Canadian Paediatric Society

2009 Report
The well-being of children in wealthy countries: UNICEF Report Card 7

Lajoie, Jules
Léveillé, Sophie

2007 Information sheet
Evaluations in Canadian child welfare programs: A critical review

Flynn, Robert J.
Bouchard, Danielle
Lajoie, Jules

2006 Information sheet

National - Legislation

Child welfare services fall under the jurisdiction of provincial and territorial authorities as a result each province and territory has different legislation pertaining to child protection interventions. For more information click here.

The only child welfare regulations and legislation that apply to all provinces and territories are the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development First Nations Child and Family Services National Program Manual and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child: