Alberta child advocate's role to grow in new child intervention rules
Legislation also to make public the names of children who die in provincial care
Alberta is expanding the role of the children's advocate to investigate the deaths of children who are in care.
Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar introduced the legislation today saying he wants to make fundamental changes to the province's child intervention system.
The bill gives child and youth advocate more authority and allows him to look into deaths of children up to two years after they've left the system.
It also ends the banning of reporting of names of children who die in care.
"I have said from day one I did not like the way the publication ban sat," he told reporters. "That's why this bill will amend the legislation so that the ban no longer applies to deceased children.
"It would enable the name and photograph of children who have passed away and their parents or guardians to be published."
However, parents or guardians can still apply to the courts for a publication ban if they wish.
The changes will put more of an emphasis on sharing information on investigations with the public and allow those who work within the system to speak out.
"We want to protect those folks so that their statements that they make aren't going to be in the middle of civil litigation," he said. "I want them to speak up so that we can enhance the practice."
NDP MLA Rachel Notley said the changes don't go far enough because the children's advocate doesn't have an increase in his budget to conduct more investigations.
The legislation is long overdue and was only brought about by a series of newspaper stories that embarrassed the Tories, she said.
"I'm frustrated that they told me as an MLA since 2008 that we were actually getting that information and then we weren't and I'm not super pumped about throwing a big party over the fact that they're now doing what they promised us they were doing a long time ago."
With files from CBC's John Archer