Edmonton, AB (January 30, 2014): Aboriginal consultation on improving Alberta’s child and foster care system will be more important than ever after a two-day roundtable excluded Aboriginals from the panel, Wildrose Human Services Critic Kerry Towle said today.
“It is unfortunate that with all the First Nations’ expertise we have in Alberta not one aboriginal was included in the panel,” Towle said. “Considering aboriginal children account for 78% of the deaths in foster care since 1999, it should have been a no-brainer to have expertise from aboriginal communities involved as a key building block of any future changes.” Towle noted the government has appointed a panel as a part of the five-point plan which has no aboriginal representation. She says it is essential that aboriginal communities are included in every aspect of the deliberation and improvement process. “It is essential that we get this right, and for the Minister and the panel that means getting as much input and expertise from aboriginal communities as we can,” Towle said. “I hope that when we see the next report in February we will see an active role for the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.” Towle also said that it was inappropriate for Premier Redford to take credit for releasing documents related to the death of children in care when it took media four years of legal wrangling to release this information to the public. “It is too bad that the government has to be forced into doing the right thing for Alberta’s children in care,” Towle said. “It took the media four years and an order from the Privacy Commissioner to get the government to release the documents that led us to this process. Media shouldn’t have had to fight for basic information like this and it is not right for the Premier to take credit for the documents’ release.”