December 12th, 2003
There seems to be a gap in our laws between the time when children are free to make choices and the time they become responsible for their choices.
The responsibility for minors' choices seem to lie with the parents, but without the parents having the means to exercise their authority on their children.
Many Ontario and Federal laws have been passed, giving children more and more independence, such as the "right" to seek medical attention or have an abortion without the parents' knowledge, the "right" to have sex with an adult (including homosexual intercourse at age 14).
Conversely, the parents have been deprived of their ability to prevent children from getting into trouble, such as the "right" of children to leave home at age 16 when, at the same age, a law prevents the police from telling the parents where their children are.
Is it then a surprise that many of our teen-agers contract venereal diseases, are assaulted by adults or commit sexual offences themselves?
Is it a surprise that teen-age violence has increased when they are not held responsible or punished, while their parents have no power to teach them by example or prevent their "exploits" with the support of the law?
Mr Elferink, a Territory MLA told parliament how he had been sexually assaulted as a teenager. CLP member for Macdonnell John Elferink said he had been sodomised several times by Dennis Arthur Hearne. The assaults occurred over a period of eight months from 1978 when he was 13. He revealed his ordeal during a parliamentary debate over gay law reform in a bid to halt government plans to lower the gay age of consent for boys from 18 to 16.
Mr Elferink has called for the age of consent to be raised to 18 across the board. During the debate Mr Elferink circulated a copy of a graphic 1997 statement he made to police, detailing the assaults.
In Ontario the age of consent to have sex with adults is 14 and to have sex with another teen-ager is 12!
How is it possible that a child can both decide to have sex and have an abortion without the parent's knowledge at age 12, but she is prevented by law from consuming a beer until age 19?
For teen-agers, the risks and consequences of sex and the effect and after-effects of abortion are much more serious than, for example, consuming a beer when having dinner with their parents at a restaurant.
It is time to fix our convoluted and inconsistent laws.
The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, for example, has urged the federal government, "to define 18 years and over as the age of consent for sexual encounters with adults."
A Family Coalition government would simplify the law (see the current Ontario age limits below) and consistently recognize the rights of youth at the same time (age of majority) as they become responsible and prosecutable for their actions.
The Family integrity must also be maintained and the authority of the parents must be restored, at least until the age of majority.
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ONTARIO AGE LIMITS
- Can have an abortion without parental consent or knowledge (Bill 19, Health Care Consent Act, 1996)
- Consent to medical treatment depends on mental capacity, not age (Health Consent Act)
Federal Human Rights Code and Charter protect all ages from age discrimination (Canadian Human Rights Act, Charter)
- Single parents of any age are eligible for social assistance, if needed (Ontario Works Act)
Civil liability of minors depends on maturity not age (no known case ascribing liability to a child of "tender years" i.e. under 6 years) (Common Law).
6 years old
- Required to attend school (Education Act S.21).
7 years old
- Cannot be adopted without consent (CFSA, S.137).
Under 12 years old
- Can be apprehended by Family & Children's Services (CAS) for criminal behaviour (CFSA, s. 37(2))
- Cannot see a movie during school hours or after 7:30 p.m. unless accompanied by person apparently 16 years or older [Theatre Act, s. 19(1)].
12 years old
- Can have sex with someone up to two years older who is not in a position of trust or authority
Can be charged with a criminal offense (YCJA, S.2(1))
- Can voluntarily agree to be taken care by Family & Children's Services (CAS) (CFSA, s. 29(2)(b); s. 37(2)(1)).
14 years old
- Can have consensual sex with an adult (18 or older) (in 1995 the Ontario Court of Appeal lowered the age of consent for homosexual sex from 18 to 14)
- Can reside with third party or non-custodial parent without criminal repercussion to the parent or third party (CCC S.281, S.282).
15 years old
- Can quit school at the end of that year.
16 years old
- Can marry with parents' consent, court order or Minister's permission (Marriage Act, S.5, S.6)
Can voluntarily withdraw from parental control but may lose right to parents' financial support (CFSA, S.43(2); CLRA, S.65; FLA, S.31)
- Can rent an apartment (Human Rights Code S.4)
- No limitations on employment
- Police will not tell the parents where their children are
Can drive a car (Highway Traffic Act, S.37(2); O.Reg. 509/97, S.28)
- Can operate a motorboat
- Can have ears or nose pierced without parental consent
- Entitled to receive welfare benefits, with conditions (Ontario Works Act)
- Considered an adult under the Power Of Attorney Act (POA S.93(b))
- Can work during school hours (Education Act, S.21)
- Can no longer be apprehended by the Family & Children's Services (CAS) (CFSA, S.37)
- Considered an adult for the purpose of the Mental Health Act
- Can refuse emergency treatment (Health Care Consent Act S.26)
- Has right to privacy of and access to personal information (Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, s. 54(c)).
17 years old
- Can donate blood.
Under 18 years old
- Parents may be civilly liable for damages caused by their minor children. Liability based on failing to supervise and depends on maturity of child (Common Law; Age of Majority & Accountability Act, S.1).
- Litigation Guardian required to sue or be sued civilly unless court orders otherwise (Rules of Civil Procedure, R. 7.02 & Age of Majority & Accountability Act, S.1)
- If a student, entitled to reduced minimum wage (Employment Standards Act, O.Reg. 325/90, s. 10(1.3))
- Considered a child under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
18 years old
- Parents' support not required, with conditions (Family Law Act, S.31(1))
- Can see a restricted movie (Theatres Act, S.19(4))
- Can marry without parental consent (Marriage Act S.5)
- Can purchase a hunting rifle
- Can join the military
- Can pose nude for photos
- Protection from age discrimination (Human Rights Code, S.10)
- Is not considered a "child" with regards to "child pornography"
- Can vote (Election Act, S.10(1); S.15(1))
- Can have a VISA credit card without parental consent
- Can no longer be the subject of custody orders (Children's Law Reform Act, S.18(2))
- Can enter into contracts (Common Law)
- Can make a will (Succession Law Reform Act, S.8)
- Can change name (Change of Name Act, S.1; S.4(3))
- Entitled to full minimum wage (Employment Standards Act, O.Reg. 325/90, S.10(1.3)).
19 years old
- Can purchase tobacco (Tobacco Control Act S.3)
- Can drink alcohol (Liquor Licence Act S.30 (1))
- Can be sold alcohol or tobacco
- 25 years old
- Can rent a car.