Criminal Law

Change law for children with addictions: Gadhia

Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia says laws need to evolve so that parents are able to compel their children into addictions treatment – even when they refuse.

“It is a problem here in Canada,” she says. “Unlike the United States, Canada does not have a unified involuntary admission program into detox facilities or rehab.”

As a result, Gadhia says Canada’s laws leave a “gaping void that places parents between a rock and a hard place.

“You either call the police to apprehend your child for drug-related offences or you involve the Child and Family Services Act to apprehend your child, which opens up another can of worms where CAS puts you under the microscope,” she says.

“The law is just not there to assist parents in dealing with it.”

The lawyer makes the comments during a recent appearance on SiriusXM Canada’s What She Said with hosts Christine Bentley, Kate Wheeler and Sharon Caddy about the difficulties associated with forcing children into treatment. She spoke on the issue in the context of a mother who kidnapped her daughter to bring her to the United States for treatment. LISTEN TO ROOTS GADHIA ON WHAT SHE SAID.

“We don’t have facilities where we can involuntarily admit our children,” Gadhia tells the radio audience. “If we introduce legislation to allow parents and guardians to force their drug-addicted teenagers into detox without their permission, that would be a step that needs to start happening across the board.”

She noted that some provinces have moved in this direction, but it’s not unified across Canada.

Gadhia says the laws haven’t changed to reflect the reality that drug use, including hard drugs like cocaine, among children has become more common in recent years.

“The laws do have to grow with the changing circumstances of our times,” she says.

Gadhia says it’s important for the public to talk and debate the issues. Otherwise, she says, the law won't change.

“There needs to be work in that area to ensure that parents are in a position to not only carry out their obligations and responsibilities as parents, but also to make sure their child doesn’t die (because of addictions),” she says.

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