Family an obstacle—but for whom?

Nova Scotia’s Community Services Department has upped the ante: last week it severed family access to a troubled Cole Harbour teenager it had shipped off to an Ontario residential care facility last year. It will now apply to family court “to vary the current order with respect to access,” thus legalizing the elimination of the boys’ grandparents from any future role in his care.


According to an Aug. 19 letter to the grandparents from the department, the Ontario facility—Bayfield Homes—believes “family contact has become an obstacle to providing [the boy] with the treatment he requires in a highly structured residential facility.”


Could it be that family contact is an obstacle to the people who run that institution, and who profess to know best what is in the child’s now-and-future best interests?

Let’s recap.

The grandparents, who’d raised the boy since he was a toddler and acknowledged he needed help they couldn’t provide, objected—in public—to the province’s plan to send him out of province for treatment.

They went to court in a lengthy but ultimately unsuccessful bid to bring him home.

They enlisted the aid of a New Brunswick child psychologist and other experts who came up with an alternative plan of care that would have seen the boy returned to Nova Scotia and cared for in a community setting.

Two weeks ago, the government turned down their plan.

Last spring, Restoring Dignity, a group advocating for victims of institutional abuse, took up the family’s cause, bringing allegations of mistreatment at Bayfield to the attention of various authorities in Ontario, including the province’s child advocate.

On July 19, the group organized a press conference to outline allegations the boy had been beaten for asking to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Ontario Provincial Police are investigating.

No wonder Bayfield isn’t happy.

The boy’s grandmother, admittedly, can be difficult. She’s relentless, even obsessive about what she considers the best interests of her grandson.

Is that so bad? In three years, when the boys turns 18 and Bayfield washes its hands of him, who will be left to look out for his best interests?

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