Regine Laurent, president of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection, arrives at a news conference to deliver a preliminary report in Montreal on Monday, November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Regine Laurent, president of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection, arrives at a news conference to deliver a preliminary report in Montreal on Monday, November 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Quebec urged to create national director of youth protection to oversee system

MONTREAL — A provincial commission looking into the protection of vulnerable children in Quebec is recommending the appointment of a youth-protection watchdog to oversee the entire provincial system.

The Laurent Commission released a preliminary report today after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its final report, now set to be released in April 2021.

The proposed provincial director of youth protection would act as a “guardian angel” and would have a role similar to that of a deputy minister, providing some consistency in how cases are handled across the province.

The commissioners recommend that the best interests of children should be at the heart of all interventions made by youth protection.

Regine Laurent, a nurse and former union leader who is heading the commission, says that means the child must be talked to about their present situation and their future, and their rights must be respected.

The special commission was sparked by the 2019 death of a seven-year-old girl from Granby, Que., after she was found in critical condition in her family home, even though she had been the subject of reports to the youth protection department.