Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Ontario Adoption Disclosure Law Struck Down

Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba has quashed Ontario's new Adoption Information Disclosure Act, holding that provisons of the Act contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Fredoms.

In Cheskes v. Ontario (Attorney General), the Court considered the constitutional validity of provisions that retroactively opened confidential adoption records maintained by the Province, and allowed birth parents and adopted children to access identifying information about each other without the consent of the person being identified.

The new law had been in effect for only two days before this ruling

As noted in this Toronto Star report, the Court struck the statute "because it violates the privacy of adoptees and birth parents who want their records to remain sealed."

National Post also has the story:

Adoptees and birth parents will no longer be privy to the personal information contained in adoption records after Ontario Superior Court Wednesday struck down nascent legislation that allowed past adoption records to be opened. ... Wednesday's ruling, issued by Justice Edward Belobaba, quashed that legislation.

..."The applicants object to the fact that their identities will be disclosed to persons that they would least want to have this information. Whether or not contact actually takes place in breach of the no-contact provision is a secondary concern," he wrote.

The ruling found parts of the legislation dealing with access to birth registration information unconstitutional.

"People expect, and are entitled to expect, that the government will not share [confidential personal] information without their consent," said the court. "The protection of privacy is undeniably a fundamental value in Canadian society, especially when aspects of one's individual identity are at stake."

The full text of Justice Belobaba's adoption disclosure decision in Cheskes v. Ontario (Attorney General is here.

For other press coverage of the decision, see:

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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