I want my son to take an alternative health care treatment. He’s not keen. Can I decide for him?

My son broke his ankle playing soccer. Our family doctor recommends a cast. But I want to take him to a chiropractor instead. My son would rather get the cast.

Steve

Steve

Kelowna, BC

Your son may have the right to make this decision himself, if a health care provider considers him mature enough. 

Under BC law, a child under age 19 can consent to their own health care. They don’t need their parent or guardian to consent. But there is a proviso. The health care provider must explain to the child what the treatment involves, including the risks and benefits, and be satisfied: 

  • that the child understands, and  

  • that the treatment is in the child’s best interests. 

There’s no set age when a child becomes sufficiently mature to consent to their own health care. It’s the judgment call of the health care provider. And as explained here, it depends on how serious the medical treatment is. 

If a child is assessed as not mature enough to make their own health care decisions, the child's parents or guardians are responsible for making informed decisions for the child. The decisions must be guided by the child’s best interests. 

A bone fracture is a serious injury. You’ll want to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of a cast compared to chiropractic treatment, and decide on a course of treatment that puts your child’s best interests at the forefront. 

And be aware that not providing proper medical help for your child can attract the concern of child protection authorities, and even result in criminal charges.

Rebecca Stanley

Rebecca Stanley

Connect Family Law
  • This information applies to British Columbia, Canada
  • Reviewed for legal accuracy in March 2022

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