Opposition parties call for government action on child deaths
Both the NDP and Liberals in Newfoundland and Labrador are calling on the provincial government to act in response to the number of deaths of children under the province's protection.
On Tuesday, CBC News reported that since the formation of the Child, Youth and Family Services department, 26 children and youth under the age of 18 have died while receiving some sort of government service.
- 26 children died while under province's protection since 2009
- Read the government documents released following Access to Information request
Carol Chafe, the province's child and youth advocate, said she was aware of six of those deaths, but only learned of the remaining 20 when approached by CBC News.
Any death that might happen from this moment on — whether the legislation is in place or not, these deaths should be reported.- Lorraine Michael, NDP leader
Chafe said she will be pushing for legislative change that will see the province provide her with notification of any death or critical incident involving children and youth receiving government services.
Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons, critic for the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, suggested the House of Assembly be called back into session to pass an amendment to the legislation.
NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she was concerned that Chafe was only notified by a media request.
"I agree with Ms. Chafe's call for legislation that says that she should get a report on any child who dies while in protection — there's absolutely no doubt about that," said Michael.
On Monday, CBC News requested an interview with Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services Sandy Collins. His communications director said he is unavailable for an interview until Thursday.
Review of department
Michael said in light of the revelation of the number of deaths since the creation of the department five years ago, there may be need for another review.
"Right now, in the short term, I think that the minister of Child, Youth and Family Services has got to immediately say these deaths have got to be reported. Any death that might happen from this moment on — whether the legislation is in place or not — these deaths should be reported," she said.
"If these deaths, even one or two or three of these deaths are because of malfunctioning, either because of lack or resources, insufficient resources for the front line workers to do their work, whatever the reason, we might need another review of the Child, Youth and Family Services."
Government announced a Child Death Review Committee and appointed member in March 2014 as a direct recommendation from the Turner report.
A spokesperson with the justice department said the committee will be able to receive cases in September, but only for cases going forward.