VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Next week, a Vancouver dad gets his day in court –again– to argue his four kids should have been allowed to ride the bus by themselves back in 2017.
The father, who NEWS 1130 is not being identified due to a publication ban, took the Ministry of Children and Family Development to B.C. Supreme Court last year, to argue the ministry’s insistence on having an adult supervise the children during their daily commute to school was in fact an ‘order’ as opposed to a mere ‘recommendation’ and thus subject to judicial review. The judge agreed the ministry’s decision was ‘reviewable’ but sided with the ministry, saying the decision was ‘reasonable.’
The father had also argued the ministry trampled on his parental rights, but there too he fell short of getting a favourable ruling.
“They failed to consider my Charter rights to essentially express my freedom to parent obviously within reasonable safety, according to my views,” says the father.
His opportunity to argue his case comes to the B.C. Court of Appeal on June 11, via Zoom.
In March of 2017, his four oldest kids were 10, 9, 8, and 7 years old. His five-year-old at the time hadn’t started school yet. For two years, he says, he had accompanied them to school by bus from his Yaletown home to their public school in North Vancouver, close to where their mother lives. By the time they were ready to travel without their dad, the father says he provided them with a cell phone and was confident he wasn’t doing anything illegal.
But that travel arrangement fell apart when he got a call from the Ministry of Children and Family Development, letting him know someone filed an anonymous concern about the kids riding transit on their own. The ministry began an investigation.
The ministry noted the father had a healthy relationship with his kids and that he fully cooperated with the investigation. The ministry said that according to the Canada Safety Council, parents should not allow kids to be left at home or on a bus alone before the age of 10.
The father says he agreed that the kids would be accompanied by an adult, until he could get further direction. Meantime, that agreement affected his daily life in many ways.
“I had issues, like if I had to take the garbage out, would I be leaving them without supervision?”
He eventually decided to pursue the matter in the courts, which has been a costly endeavour. But he’s buoyed by the support and attention he’s been getting. He says he has received hundreds of positive messages and he’s been the focus of stories from as far away as Australia and the UK.
And he’s launched a new GoFundMe campaign.
“I’m just really grateful for all of the support I’ve received, by people reaching out and monetarily. By the end of this, it will have cost $70,000 in legal bills.”
An intervener will be supporting the father this time around. Kids First Parent Association of Canada, which promotes the well being of children, has earned the right to add to arguments put forth by the father’s lawyer.
Now that the kids are older, they are now free to take the bus on their own, without repercussions. But the father says, in the end, the case is about being able to raise independent kids “without baseless government intervention.”
“I’m privileged to be in a position to be able to fight the ministry on this,” says the father.