While thirty or even twenty years ago we wouldn’t be having this discussion, unfortunately that’s no longer the case. Across Canada, parents who have left their kid at home have been dragged to court to defend their actions. This has left many Canadian parents nervous about leaving their child at home, even if they personally feel that their child is mature enough. So what should you do?
Manitoba and New Brunswick doesn’t leave any guesswork to parents. Regardless of how mature you feel your child is, the law in these provinces dictates that children under 12 cannot be left home alone. Even leaving them by themselves for half an hour could end with child endangerment charges, so you’ll have to bring your kids with you or find a babysitter.
The Rest of Canada has an unspoken rule that you shouldn’t be leaving a child home alone under 10. A BC single mom was charged with child endangerment for leaving her eight year old for two hours, and it just seems to be generally expected that kids under 10 will have supervision 24/7. While this can be difficult and frustrating for single parents or situations where a parent really will be gone only 10 minutes, the government has made it clear that parents who leave kids under 10 at home will be assumed guilty. It will be up to the parents to prove to the courts that their child was not left in an unreasonably dangerous situation, and between the potential of freak fires and floods, we wish you good luck with that — you’ll need.
Babysitting in Canada requires a child to be at least 12 years old and to have successfully passed the babysitting course. These course are usually very affordable or even free for a child to take through their school. Before 12, a child is not allowed to be responsible for younger siblings, and even once they’ve passed their test, they should not be in charge of more than two kids at time.
While kids four or five years old may have been left to fend for themselves during our grandparents era, today that old-fashioned approach to parenting does not fly. The court of public opinion (as well as the legal system) has spoken, and kids under ten are to be supervised at all times whether they’re at the house or going to the park. If you live in Manitoba or New Brunswick, that age is higher: twelve. Regardless of how you feel about your own child, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that repercussions may follow if you leave your children unattended at home — even if you strongly believe they are mature enough for the responsibility.