Alberta government will investigate all child welfare deaths
Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services, says the province will commit to reviewing the death of every child who dies or is seriously injured in provincial care or while receiving protective services.
“When a child dies in our care, it’s a terrible tragedy,” says Sabir, “we will make sure that we bring in independent oversight so that every death and injury can be investigated.”
Right now, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate only investigates a handful of deaths, based on specific criteria. It is an independent body.
Sabir’s promise comes after an alarming spike in deaths of children under provincial supervision this summer. Five children have died in provincial care or receiving protective services in the past 7 weeks.
In the past year, 33 children have died under provincial supervision and 11 were seriously injured. That is significantly more than in any other one-year period. The average number of children who die annually in the care of the province since 2008 is 23.
The government cannot unilaterally increase the OCYA’s budget so it could investigate every death and serious injury, because the office’s funding comes from an all-party committee. Therefore, the Minister was short on specifics of how exactly his government plans to review the deaths
Sabir could only say the reviews he is promising will be independent, but the ministry hasn’t determined whether the Child and Youth Advocate will perform them.
View the province’s statistics on children who have died recently under provincial care or supervision here.