Government must inform Child Youth Advocate of Deaths
NDP leader, Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) expressed shock at learning of the number of children that have died since 2009 under the care of government.
“I am devastated to learn that 26 children have died in five years. These deaths should have been reported to the Child Youth Advocate without delay,” says Michael.
Michael is demanding that government enact legislation requiring government to immediately inform the Child Advocate about the death or serious incident involving a child or youth under government’s care so there is an independent investigation protocol and the death or harming of a child need not become a political issue.
“The minister of Child Youth and Family Services must make these legislative changes as soon as possible. In the meantime the minister could mandate information on child deaths be passed to the Advocate, the department does not need to wait. Why are they not doing it now?”
Michael says, “To quote Chafe, ‘I would think that one is a high number.’ - I have to ask government what kind of number is 26? Do we need yet another inquiry into CYFS?” The NDP has as recently as June 18, 2014 called for the legislative changes to be made.
Carol Chafe, the Child and Youth Advocate, released in reports in March 2013 showing that lack of communication and documentation were the biggest problems when reviewing the cases of neglected and abused children. She called for changes to legislation in June 2013 when she released information on the deaths of 4 children.
The government is not acting quickly enough to correct deficiencies. “As the Child and Youth Advocate pointed out in 2013, deficiencies in documentation and communications standards in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Services put children at risk,” Michael says.
Michael also wonders if the 12 accidental deaths and 6 suicides have been reported to the Child Death Review Committee that was formalized in March 2014 two years after the legislation to create the committee was passed.