Serenity's death prompts government to set up all-party task force
The Alberta government will establish an all-party task force to take immediate action on the province's child intervention system.
Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir made the announcement in the legislature Thursday while answering a question from Wildrose Leader Brian Jean about Serenity, a four-year-old Indigenous girl who died in kinship care two years ago.
"The premier has asked me to establish a committee that will include members from across the aisle that will look into this issue and will make sure there are enough safeguards in place that we can prevent similar incidents from happening," Sabir said.
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Serenity was emaciated and badly bruised when she died from a brain injury in September 2014. Medical records documented injuries that suggested the girl had been sexually assaulted.
The case prompted MLAs to hold an emergency debate on Nov. 21 about the safety of children in government care.
During that debate, interim Progressive Conservative Leader Ric McIver suggested MLAs tackle the issue through an all-party committee.
"Maybe it's time to stop pointing fingers and saying that right-wing people don't care or that left-wing people don't care, or that you people don't care," McIver said that day. "If this matters to us, why don't we sit down like adults and actually put some stuff on the table?"
After Sabir made his announcement, McIver said he sent a note to Premier Rachel Notley thanking her for going ahead.
"This is an issue that really needs to be non-partisan," he said. "I don't think the world has any patience for members of the legislature yelling back and forth while children in our care could be in peril or even dying.
"So I think that it's time that we put down the shields and the swords and work together as a team."
The timeframe, mandate and membership of the task force are still being determined. The government expects to release more details in the coming days.