Communication breakdown blamed in toddler's stabbing death in Quebec City

Quebec's human and youth rights commission’s investigation into the death of a two-year-old girl in Quebec City last year found serious communication issues between youth protection services and the shelter where the child's mother had been staying.

Human and youth rights commission investigated after 2-year-old found in garbage bin in April 2018

Rosalie Gagnon was two years old when she was found dead in April 2018. Her mother, Audrey Gagnon, is set to be tried for the girl's second-degree murder. (SPVQ)

Audrey Gagnon was in distress when she was expelled from a Quebec City shelter, Maison Marie-Rollet, on April 12, 2018.

Six days later, her daughter, two-year-old Rosalie Gagnon, was stabbed to death and found stuffed into a garbage bin.

The girl's mother is expected to stand trial on Sept. 3 for Rosalie's second-degree murder, but the toddler's death exposed flaws in Quebec's youth protection system — a system that's under scrutiny once again for questions about its role in the case of an allegedly abused Granby girl who died this spring.

The province's human and youth rights commission, which launched an investigation into Rosalie's death, said in a statement there were serious communication problems between youth protection authorities and the shelter, which houses victims of conjugal violence and their children.

The investigation found a misunderstanding between youth protection services (DPJ) and the Maison Marie-Rollet of the DPJ's "role, mandate and expectations," the commission said in its news release Wednesday.

This "caused problems of collaboration and transmission of information essential to the protection of this child," it said.

Task force set up

The agency responsible for youth protection in Quebec City and shelters in the region have set up a task force to demystify the work of the DPJ and better define each others' roles and needs, the commission said.

The commission has asked the DPJ to keep it informed of the results of this process and recommends that the Department of Health and Social Services put in place such consultation mechanisms across the province.

The commission initiated the investigation two days after Rosalie's death, under the powers granted to it in the Act to protect the rights of children.

CBC News requested an interview with the commission, but a spokesperson said no interviews will be given on the report.

A police officer escorts Audrey Gagnon, charged with murdering her daughter, Rosalie Gagnon, as she leaves a Quebec City police station last year. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

'Clearly' cracks in system

The commission's release comes just weeks after the Quebec government ordered a coroner's inquest into last month's death of the seven-year-old Granby girl.

Quebec's minister in charge of youth protection, Lionel Carmant, told reporters that the child had a file with the DPJ and the last time it had intervened in her case was in early April.

"We are going to make every effort to make sure this doesn't happen again," he said at that time.

Carmant said there are "clearly" cracks in the province's youth protection system. He said the regional DPJ heads are meeting tomorrow to determine what should be done.

"It's troubling, revolting that people knew [about the girl's situation], including the youth protection office," Premier François Legault said on May 2.

"I asked for a public inquiry to be 100 per cent transparent, because all of Quebec wants to know what happened to this little girl and what we could have done to avoid it."

With files from Cathy Senay and La Presse Canadienne


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