Open letter calling for an end to harmful involuntary drug testing of parents

West Coast LEAF and Parents Advocating Collecting for Kin (PACK) are joined by leading BC rights organizations and advocates to call on the BC government to immediately end the harmful and discriminatory practice of involuntarily drug testing parents who are engaged with the family policing system, also known as the child welfare system.

Involuntary drug testing does not accurately evaluate drug use and cannot properly assess parenting capacity or child safety. It stigmatizes, discriminates against, and punishes parents, and reflects the Ministry of Child and Family Development’s (MCFD) punitive framework for policing families.

In a joint open letter addressed to Premier David Eby and the Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean, we urge the government and MCFD to terminate the practice of involuntary drug testing, which disproportionally discriminates against poor and racialized families.

In the open letter, we urge the government to consider that:

  • Involuntary drug testing does not accurately or compassionately assess drug use, child safety, or parenting abilities. Yet, MCFD is using parents’ drug test results as a justification for removing children from their homes.
  • Drug tests are notoriously plagued by false positives and cannot accurately assess whether a positive test translates to child abuse, neglect, or harm. By using involuntary drug testing, MCFD is directly negating their commitments to prevention-oriented policies, opting instead for punitive measures.

MCFD must immediately end the practice of involuntary drug testing and instead use a wholistic approach to supporting families and protecting children. Policies that impact parents who use substances should be developed in collaboration with them, informed by their lived experience.

Read the full joint letter. (PDF, 329 KB)

Read our press release.

Want to learn more about our work on family policing? Read more about our Communities of Practice project.


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