"In Canada, each province and territory individually defines the age of majority,
which is when a person is considered by law to be an adult and anyone under that age
of majority is considered to be a minor. In Newfoundland and Labrador the age of
majority is defined as nineteen (19) years. The United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child (UNCRC) defines a child as under the age of eighteen (18) years.
At the age of nineteen (19) a person can legally purchase and consume alcohol
and tobacco yet the age of consent for medical treatment is generally recognized as
sixteen (16) years and the right to opt out of care is recognized as sixteen (16) years. I
will not attempt to rationalize these discrepancies in age definitions, but I will clearly say
that we as a society are failing our most vulnerable children who require our assistance
and guidance into adulthood. Professionals who work with vulnerable youth who are
sixteen (16) years of age and older face the delicate balance of providing opportunities
for youth to participate in decisions about their health, safety and wellbeing while at the
same time determining whether or not they have the capacity to make such life altering
This investigation reveals the story of a child who was crying out for help. Due to
deficiencies in the system, there were times when his voice was not heard, his rights
were not respected and his right to services was not upheld. The incident which
prompted this investigation was a fire which resulted in the tragic death of a man and I
extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends.
The goal of any investigation is not to lay blame but to identify what went wrong
and how to prevent it from happening again. This investigation clearly demonstrates
themes of deficiencies in services being provided by various government departments
and agencies. It highlights several recommendations to improve the system and reduce
the risk of another child experiencing the same.
For reasons of confidentiality this child will be known as “John.” I would like to
acknowledge John and his family for their commitment to this investigation in the hope
that it will influence necessary changes. In John’s own words, he stated to me: “…I just
hope this doesn’t happen to somebody else really, it sucks” (Transcript of ACY
Interview, 2012, p.117)."
(Advocate for Children and Youth, 2013, p. 3)