An Ontario judge is to decide today whether the Children’s Aid Society should intervene in the case of an aboriginal girl whose family removed her from chemotherapy at a Hamilton hospital in favour of traditional medicine.
Judge Gethin Edward has presided over the complicated and potentially precedent setting Brantford, Ont., proceedings since they began on Sept. 25. Today, Edward could decide to make the child attend court for a child protection hearing, or skip the hearing and have her taken directly to the hospital to resume chemotherapy.
The CAS, however, has indicated it may not comply with the judge’s decision and may instead opt to bring the case to the Consent and Capacity Board — an independent body created by the provincial government under the Health Care Consent Act.
Brant County CAS director Andrew Koster testified during the proceedings that the case should never have come before his agency. Officials from Hamilton Health Sciences, however, told court they were disappointed the Children's Aid Society hasn’t acted faster to protect the child.
Neither the patient nor her family can be identified because of a publication ban in the court case.
Doctors from McMaster Children’s Hospital, where the girl was being treated, said she had a 95 per cent chance of survival when she was being treated with chemotherapy.
"We know we can save this child’s life. We can’t give up on this child," hospital president Peter Fitzgerald told CBC Hamilton.
Hamilton Health Sciences officials won’t make a comment immediately after Friday’s ruling, a spokeswoman said, but will issue a statement later in the day.
The girl and her family have not been present in court throughout the proceedings.
The girl’s mother has defended her decision to seek alternative cancer treatment at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, a centre that focuses on nutrition and naturopathic therapy.
In a letter to CBC News, she wrote, "I will not have my daughter treated with poison.… I have chosen treatment that will not compromise her well-being and quality of life."
The family paid the institute $18,000 for the treatment. In a video obtained by CBC News, institute director Brian Clement says his institute teaches people to "heal themselves" from cancer by eating raw, organic vegetables and having a positive attitude.
"We've had more people reverse cancer than any institute in the history of health care," he says.
Nicholas Bala, a professor of family law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said that regardless of the judge’s decision, this case will be precedent setting.
"It`s going to set a precedent on the rights of parents and also on the question of which piece of legislation governs, the Child and Family Services Act or legislation governing the health capacity and consent board.”
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: