HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's premier has told child welfare officials to review how they handle complex cases, as a former foster child in the province faces deportation to a country he has no connection to.
Stephen McNeil says he asked the Community Services Department to complete a review of any cases that would require supports similar to those needed by Abdoul Abdi.
The 24-year-old man was recently released from prison after serving a five year sentence on multiple charges including aggravated assault. He was put in segregation in a New Brunswick jail by the Canada Border Services Agency upon his release and is now awaiting a deportation hearing.
Abdi arrived in Canada as a six-year-old child refugee and was shortly after apprehended by the Nova Scotia government and placed in foster care but never obtained citizenship.
McNeil says all children in the province's care who require extensive support are offered a "myriad of options," but he says the province can't force them to take on the options.
While refusing to speak to any specific case, he says the province can provide children in its care legal advice or "options to gain citizenship" but cannot force them to pursue citizenship.
"I can tell you since this has come out there will be a complete review of not only this case but any cases that would require the kind of support that I'm hearing about with this particular gentleman," McNeil told reporters Wednesday.
"I've asked, not specific to this case but all children in care, what are the options that we are providing and laying out to all children in care, and then it is up to those children as they grow into teenage years to decide whether or not they take advantage of those options," he said.
McNeil added that "the province can't force you to take out citizenship: The province can provide you the support and provide you the options to gain citizenship, but it is up to the individual to determine whether or not they want citizenship."