Inquiry needed into children's stories that don't end well

I’ve been writing about child protection issues since 2004 when I got interested in the story of a Halifax couple embroiled in a highly publicized, 67-hour, shots-fired standoff with police. The issue: Children’s Aid had seized their five-month old daughter, not because of anything the couple had done to the child—in fact, evidence indicated they were loving, capable parents—but because they’d each been accused of abducting children during acrimonious custody battles in previous relationships.

Their story didn’t end well. The parents ended up in jail. Their daughter disappeared into the often self-serving anonymity of the province’s foster care system.


Then there was the story of the 16-year-old girl whose mental health issues were never addressed in foster or group homes. She ended up in court. The frustrated judge ordered the then-minister of community services—the girl’s legal guardian—to explain the mess. The minister never testified. Instead, the case was shuffled to the sidelines.

I caught up with the girl—now 18—last year. She told me she didn’t get any more help after her court case; instead, as soon as she turned 18, she was spit out into the adult welfare system. Good riddens.

Through her, I met a young man who’d been shipped off at the age of 12—against his parents’ wishes—to an Ontario residential treatment centre called Bayfield where he spent five years. Bayfield, he says, didn’t help. Instead, they prescribed drugs: he was on 13 medications at one point. Like the girl, Bayfield and child welfare washed its hands of him as soon as it could. The last I heard, he was living on the streets.

Which brings us to the current case: the 15-year-old Cole Harbour boy who was also sent to Bayfield. He didn’t do well either. Bayfield has now dumped him, but not before squeezing his grandparents/guardians out of his life—leaving the province, which claims it doesn’t have the facilities to treat him, to decide what to do next with him.

Whatever it does with the boy, the province should do something else; call a public inquiry into how we deal with troubled children and families. Something is clearly wrong.




  1. my husband lived at bayfield for approx 4 and a half years of work camp and isolation hell! the shit that went on there is unbelievable and i can not believe they are still in business!. the people there are vile and should be in jail for all the shit and abuse that goes on there. im trying to track dont who is over seeing this place and of course they say the records going back to the early 90s are no longer available! i will find justice for my husband someway and see bayfield pay for all the shit they have done to so many children


    • Hi I’m Jeff and I was at bayfield in the eighties. It sucked. It was run by the Baldwinds. Bruce, Mike, Dave and Uncle Phil. He was the Boss and you had to call him that.What a fuckin Goof. He always had me put on the ground and would have the staff rub there knees into my arms. Lots of times I had to move the Rock Pile. A bunch of rocks that i had to move the pile over ten feet. Bullshit. Every time I went to take a shower, Uncle Phil would come into the bathroom and open the shower curtain and look me up and down. What a fuckin creep that guy is. I suffered alot of abusive when I was there. I have lots and lots of stories. Just seen your paragraph and thought I would add a comment, because I HATE them too. Im sure the both of you are doing well now that you are no longer there. I hope the best for you guys. Top Of The World To Ya.
      Jeff Timmins

      Vancouver BC


  2. I was in Bayfield Treatment Center and I can confirm abuse and mistreatment took place at Bayfield.

    Send me an email and I’ll show proof.

    The proof is of admission they assaulted me on a internal report that they just so happened not sent a copy to my CAS worker.

    The staff member who assaulted me is now an O.P.P “Ontario Provincial Police” K9 officer and he may have also been a police officer part time back when the assault took place.


  3. A independent public inquiry into child protection issues is long overdue.This is another case, among many, where a child is harmed by the actions of those whose job it is to help the child. The system does not work and hasn’t for years. Too many children are being harmed by the system put in place to help them. If parents and citizens cannot insure that the children of Nova Scotia are protected from harm done to them by government agencies including child protection, mental health services, educational facilities, governemnt contracted agencies and businesses, etc. then the future of society as we know it is in jeopardy. We need a public inquiry into the mess of child protection where innocent children are snatched from their parents for no good reason and those parents who are niave enough to ask for help for troubled children see nothing but further destruction in their children’s lives. Responsible parents and citizens, professionals including social workers,lawyers, judges, psychologists, etc.know this business of child protection is not working for the childern of Nova Scotia.Your call for a public inquiry is welcomed and those in charge need to pay attention, set the wheels in motion and get on with it. Let’s see if the governemnt of the day with it’s five government departments that are involved have the fortitude to carry through with their promise to help the families of Nova Scotia including the children.


  4. Mr. Kimber, you are right. There are so many people that have been affected by this broken system (including myself). This widespread problem is seldom investigated or reported. Private programs are sometimes even worse than public institutions due to little or no regulation.

    It is time that our mental health professionals pay attention to what hasn’t been working. Locking up children without due process with loose, subjective diagnoses is incredibly irresponsible. Society is worse off when we hinder the child’s ability to grow in an environment which can foster healing and maturation.


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