The Nova Scotia child protection legislation states that the reporting of child abuse by all citizens is mandatory. Failure to report abuse, even when only suspected, is a punishable offence. The duty to report overrides patient confidentiality. If you are at all concerned that a child has been or is at risk for abuse, you need to report it immediately to the child protection agency serving the community where the child usually resides (click here to access contact information for the Maritime Provinces). Ask to speak to an intake worker or on-call duty worker. In addition, in Nova Scotia, physicians must complete the "Medical Report of Abuse".
The agency will determine if and when to involve the police. When appropriate, it is the mandate of the child protection agency to conduct an investigation.
How is the Child Protection Team Different from Child Protection Agencies?
The roles of the child protection agencies and the IWK Child Protection Team are sometimes confused. Child protection agencies such as Department of Community Services or Children's Aid Society are community based. They perform investigative interviews regarding child maltreatment, sometimes in conjunction with the police or RCMP. They may visit the home of the family in question and act to ensure a safe place of residence for the child and siblings. They may provide long term assistance to the child and family including recommendations for counselling or medical assessment.
The IWK Child Protection Team has no legal authority, and cannot remove children from their family or investigate concerns of child maltreatment. The IWK CPT works in collaboration with child protection agencies by providing a comprehensive assessment of children. Calling the Child Protection Team with your concerns does not mean you do not have to contact a child protection agency.