Apprehensions of babies by government on the rise in Saskatchewan
NDP leader says province should be working toward zero apprehensions
The Saskatchewan NDP says too many babies are being taken from their parents by the government.
In 2013, there were 104 apprehensions of infants less than 30 days old, according to government figures. The number of apprehensions have risen each year since, with 148 in 2017.
"I think we should be doing absolutely everything to have no apprehensions. Why would we be separating babies from their moms in those crucial days and weeks unless it's absolutely necessary," said NDP leader Ryan Meili.
Meili called any separation between baby and mother "a failure on the part of the whole province."
The NDP received the totals through an access to information request.
Here are the number of apprehensions by year:
- 2013 - 104
- 2014 - 117
- 2015 - 119
- 2016 - 123
- 2017 - 148
The Minister of Social Services acknowledged apprehensions are on the rise but maintained that babies are only taken from their parents in extreme cases.
"We only apprehend when absolutely necessary, when the safety of the child is deemed to be in jeopardy," Paul Merriman said.
"When we do take a child out of a house we want to make sure that, if we can, we try and keep them in their community. We try to keep them with a family member, a person of sufficient interest."
He said some of factors which have led to increased apprehensions are population growth, challenges with mental health and addictions.
Merriman has attended some of the recent Sixties Scoop sharing circles, which aim to help inform a formal apology to survivors by the provincial government.
"We don't want to repeat the history of the Sixties Scoop. I don't want to look back on my career in 20 years from now and say I had a part of that. I want to be able to look back and say we moved the dial," Merriman said.