Legal Milestones

A Toronto-based organization has produced a summary of age-based legal milestones for young people in Ontario to inform parents, teachers and students about their rights and responsibilities under current legislation.


Age-Based Legal Milestones for Youth in Ontario

The protection of children is a legal duty of Ontario teachers and a key element of the Standards of Practice for the Teaching Profession adopted by the College in 1999.

Justice for Children and Youth is a Toronto-based organization that provides legal assistance for low-income youth in education, social assistance, child welfare, mental health and human rights matters. The organization has produced Summary of Aged-Based Legal Milestones for Youth in Ontario, a publication that will help teachers, parents and students know about their rights and responsibilities under various pieces of legislation – provincial and federal – that ensure the protection of children.

"We encourage teachers and parents to use this document as widely as possible and provide it to their children and students so that they know and understand their rights," said Justice for Children and Youth lawyer Martha Mackinnon. "Education is an important key to protecting and advocating for children."


AMMA Age of Majority & Accountability Act
CAS Children's Aid Society
CCC Criminal Code of Canada
CFSA Child & Family Services Act
CLRA Children's Law Reform Act
CNA Change of Name Act
Ed Act Education Act
FLA Family Law Act
HCCA Health Care Consent Act
HRC Human Rights Code (Ontario)
HTA Hghway Traffic Act
ITA Income Tax Act
MA Marriage Act
MFIPPA Municipal Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act
MHA Mental Health Act
OWA Ontario Works Act
POA Provincial Offences Act
SLRA Succession Law Reform Act
SDA Substitute Decisions Act, 1992
Th Act Theatres Act
YOA Young Offenders Act


6 & OVER

  • School attendance required [Ed. Act, s. 21]

7 & OVER

  • Consent to be adopted required [CPSA, s. 137]


  • Can be apprehended by CAS for serious criminal behaviour [CFSA, s. 37(2)]
  • Can by the subject of a secure treatment order only with Minister's consent [CFSA, s. 117]
  • Cannot see a movie during school hours or after 7:30 p.m. unless accompanied by person apparently 16 years or older [Th Act, s. 19(1)]

12 & OVER

  • Can be prosecuted for provincial offences such as truency [POA, s. 93(a)]
  • Can be charged with a criminal offense [YOA, s.2(1)]
  • Consent of child required for voluntary care agreements with CAS and voluntary child protection proceedings [CFSA, s. 29(2)(b); s. 37(2)(1)]
  • Can consent on one's own to counseling by service provider [CFSA, s. 28]
  • If in care, can apply to have status reviewed [CFSA, s. 64]
  • CAS wards can consent to access by person previously in charge of them [CFSA, s. 59]
  • Can by the subject of a secure treatment order [CFSA, s. 117]
  • Consent required to change name [CNA, s. 5(2)]

14 & OVER

  • Can stop attending school or attend part time with parents’ consent and board approval [Ed Act, s. 11(8), O.Reg 308/90]
  • Can reside with third party or non-custodial parent without criminal repercussion to the parent or third party [CCC ss. 281,282 but see s. 280]
  • Can be transferred to adult court for prosecution of a criminal offense [YOA, s. 16]
  • Can see "adult entertainment" movies if with person 18 years or older [Th Act, s. 19(2)]
  • Can consent to sexual activity except with a person in position of authority or trust [CCC, s. 150.1, 153.1]


  • Can be apprehended and taken to place of safety; and can be the subject of child protection proceedings [CFSA, s. 37(1); 40(2); 41(7) and CLRA, s. 36]
  • Parents’ obligation to provide financial support is absolute and not dependant regardless of residence or why child left home [FLA, s. 31]
  • Presumed not mentally competent for purposes of the MHA but deemed competent to appoint counsel in proceedings for admission into a psychiatric facility [MHA, s. 5 & 43]
  • Legal custodian may exercise child’s rights to privacy and access to information on child’s behalf [MFIPPA, s. 54(c)]

16 & OVER

  • Considered an adult under the POA [s. 93(b)]
  • Attendance in school is not compulsory after the end of the school year in which the student turns 16 [Ed Act, s. 21]
  • Can work during school hours [Ed Act, s. 21]
  • Entitled to participate in decision identifying whether special needs student and subsequent placement [Ed Act, O. Reg 181/98, s. 4]
  • Can voluntarily withdraw from parental control but may lose right to parents’ financial support [CFSA, s. 43(2); CLRA, s.65; FLA, s. 31]
  • Can no longer be apprehended by the CAS [CFSA, s. 37]
  • Can apply for secure treatment [CFSA, s. 114]
  • May apply to terminate wardship (CAS will NOT usually oppose) [CFSA, s. 64]
  • Considered an adult for the purpose of the MHA
  • Can refuse emergency treatment [HCCA, s. 26]
  • Can be or appoint a substitute decision maker in medical treatment and personal care matters [HCCA, s. 33; SDA, s. 43]
  • Substitute decision maker must give effect to patient’s treatment wishes made after patient turned 16 years [HCCA, s. 21]
  • Can marry with parents’ consent, court order or Minister’s permission [MA, s. 5, 6]
  • Can change name with parents’ consent or court order [CNA, s. 43(3); (4)]
  • If single, entitled to social assistance in special circumstances [OWA]
  • Protected from discrimination based on age respecting housing [HRC, s. 4]
  • Eligible for novice driver’s licence in graduated licensing scheme [HTA, s. 37(2); O. Reg. 509/97, s. 28]
  • Right to privacy of and access to personal information on own behalf [MFIPPA, s. 54(c)]


  • Parents may be civilly liable for damages caused by their minor children. Liability based on failing to supervise and depends on maturity of child [Common Law; AMAA, s. 1]
  • Litigation Guardian required to sue or be sued civilly unless court orders otherwise [Rules of Civil Procedure, R. 7.02 & AMAA, s. 1]
  • No statutory appeal or process rights under the Education Act [Ed Act, ss. 1(2)]
  • If a student, entitled to reduced minimum wage [ESA, O.Reg. 325/90, s. 10(1.3)]
  • Can be sued on contracts for necessities (such as housing). May be sued on contracts for non-necessities if beneficial to the minor [Common Law]
  • Considered a “child” under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

18 & OVER

  • Age of majority – ceases being a minor [AMAA, s. 1]
  • Considered an adult under the CCC (no longer a “young person” under the YOA)
  • Can sue or be sued in their own name as no longer a minor under Rule 7.02 [AMAA, s. 1]
  • Eligible to vote [Election Act, s.10(1); 15(1)]
  • “Adult” for the purposes of the Ed Act but if appealing a suspension, parents will still be notified [s. 1.2(1); 23(2)]
  • Protection from age discrimination [HRC, s. 10]
  • Can appoint or be a substitute decision maker with respect to property matters [SDA, s. 4]
  • Cannot be the subject of child protection orders. Existing orders terminate unless extended by CAS [CFSA, s. 71]
  • Can no longer be the subject of custody or access orders [CLRA, s. 18(2)]
  • Parents obligation to provide financial support ceases, unless in school full time [FLA, s. 31(1)]
  • Eligible for social assistance, if in need [OWA]
  • Entitled to earn full minimum wage [ESA, O. Reg. 325/90, s. 10(1.3)]
  • Can enter into contracts [Common Law]
  • Can make a will, [SLRA, s. 8]
  • Can change name [CNA, s. 1; 4(3)]
  • Can see a restricted movie [Th Act, s. 19(4)]
  • Can marry without permission [MA, s.5]

19 & OVER

  • Can consume alcohol [Liquor License Act, s. 30(1)]
  • Can purchase tobacco [Tobacco Control Act, s. 3]
  • Eligible for GST refund credit [ITA]


  • Pupils of any age can see their school records [Ed Act, s. 266]
    Entitlement to attend school depends on residence of parent or tenancy of pupil in school board area [Ed Act, s. 36]
  • Consent to medical treatment depends on mental capacity not age [HCCA]
  • Federal HRC and Charter protect all ages from age discrimination [Canadian Human Rights Act, Charter]
  • Single parents of any age are eligible for social assistance, if needed [OWA]
  • Parents or married persons of any age are eligible to claim GST refund credit [ITA]
  • Married persons or those in the military can make a will at any age [SLRA, s. 8]
  • Civil liability of minors depends on maturity not age (no known case ascribing liability to a child of “tender years” i.e. under 6 years) [Common Law]

For more information about Justice for Children and Youth, visit