The Alberta government has acknowledged the deaths of another 596 children who had some involvement with the province’s child welfare system.
The deaths occurred between Jan. 1, 1999 and Sept. 30, 2013 and are in addition to the 145 deaths that have already been reported.
The government also revealed on Wednesday that another four children in government care died between June 7, and Sept. 30 of last year.
The new numbers include:
- 291 children who had prior involvement with the system, but didn’t have an active file at the time of their death
- 50 people with prior involvement who died when they were over 18
- 60 children who were the subject of an investigation that started because of the injury or illness that caused their death
- 41 children that had an investigation in progress when they died
- 66 children with sibling or parents with prior involvement with child welfare
- 84 children who had an active file but were living with their parents when they died
While she's happy the government has released this information, NDP Human Services critic Rachel Notley is disturbed that they were never released when she asked for them before.
"I am deeply concerned that for four years they looked me in the eye and told me those numbers weren't there and I think that there are some very, very serious questions that need to be asked about how that could have happened," she said.
“So now the question is, did they not know the answer to that very simple question or were they intentionally not telling me the answer?”
Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said that a previously-announced roundtable on changes to the child welfare system will take place on Jan. 28 and 29.
He said changes will be made.
“Governments are really good at commissioning reports," he said. "But we’re talking about implementation of change. That’s my focus."
Bhullar says he is committed to an open system where more information is made available.
"We need this data to be public. We need data to so we can address emerging issues and trends," he said.
"We need data so that various government departments and agencies can come together and to make sure that we're doing the best thing possible for the most vulnerable."