EDMONTON, AB (November 25, 2013): After disturbing revelations today about the number of children who have died while under the province’s care, the Wildrose Official Opposition is calling for a public inquiry in order to address the systemic failings that have led to so many deaths going unreported.
A media investigation has confirmed that between 1999 and the present, a total of 145 children died while under the province’s care but only 56 of those were ever reported. The other 89 deaths went unreported. Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said a public inquiry is the only way in which Albertans will get to the bottom of why so many deaths were unreported and what can be done to prevent future fatalities. “The information revealed today about deaths of children in care is as shocking as it is heart-breaking,” Smith said. “Together, they tell the story of significant problem in the system. Only a public inquiry can get us the answers we need so we can fix these failings.” The public inquiry should focus on six main questions:
- How many children have actually died while in the province’s care since 1999?
- When and how should the death of a child in care be publicly reported?
- How should the government track and report the deaths of children who have been recently removed from government care and returned to their parents?
- What is the implementation status of recommendations from all fatality inquiries and special case reviews since 1999?
- Why did the government spend four years blocking the release of this information and was that action proper and in the public interest?
- What steps can be taken to immediately improve the quality of care for children in the child welfare system and foster care?