Legally speaking – Consent  to care of minors of 14 years of age and over 

Legally speaking – Consent  to care of minors of 14 years of age and over 

Here is the second in a series of legal columns by Quebec law firm  Joli-Cœur Lacasse Avocats.
Article aussi disponible on français.

Consent  to care of minors of 14 years of age and over 
By Maude Bureau

The Civil Code of Québec recognizes to minors 14 years of age and over a certain maturity regarding decisions concerning their medical care.  However, this kind of consent is limited depending on the type of care that a minor is to receive.

Me Maude Bureau, avocat.

Me Maude Bureau, avocate / lawyer.

The basic principle is that a minor being 14 years of age and over may alone consent to receive medical care without needing to have parental consent and without informing them on the matter. He may also choose his doctor, dentist or any other healthcare professional without his parents being able to dictate their choice to the minor.

The first limit to this consent considers the information that a healthcare establishment may reveal to a parent or to the person having parental authority[1]:  Revealed information will be restricted to the presence of the minor in the healthcare establishment if they must stay in the establishment for more than twelve (12) hours.  The parent, at no time, will be informed about the care that their child is receiving.

The second limit provided by the law concerning the consent to care applies when a minor 14 years of age and over refuses to receive care or when a minor wants to receive care that is not required by the state of his health and which entails a serious risk. It is important to distinguish between care that is required and care that is not required by the state of health of a minor. Care that is required aims to improve the state of health of a minor or to prevent the deterioration of his health.  Care that is not required is that of which is not needed for the safe-keeping or the recovery of the state of health of a minor such as, vaccines, organ donation, experimentation or cosmetic surgery.

When a minor 14 years of age and over refuses care required by the state of their health, it is possible to overrule his consent.  In the case of non-emergency care, a parent has to be authorized by the Court as to be able to consent that health care be given to the minor without his consent. However, in the case of emergency care, a parent can act without the Court’s authorisation and authorize care for the minor. The courts have interpreted the meaning of an emergency as being a situation that puts a minor’s life in danger, but also when there is a risk threatening their bodily integrity.  In the case of care that is not required by a minor’s state of health, but which poses a serious risk to his health or which could cause grave and permanent effects, a minor cannot consent to it alone.  In this case, parents must give their consent.  In the case of care that is not required by a minor’s state of health and which does not represent any serious risk, a minor is free to consent or to refuse this care without anyone being able to change his decision.

The law allows’ a certain autonomy to your child being 14 years of age and over, but your part as a parent in this kind of decision is to accompany and to advise your child. Legal advice will be invaluable in these matters in order for you and your child to be able to make an informed decision which will be in the best interest of the child.

[1] Parental authority : a  person having the set of rights that the law recognises to the father and the mother over their minor child concerning his person and his goods. Hubert Reid, Dictionnaire de droit québécois et Canadien, 3ed, 2004 Wilson & Lafleur.

The masculine form is used merely to simplify the text. No discrimination is intended.

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