Cold Lake council debates on a Safe Haven Baby Box Program

The April 16 Corporate Priorities meeting started with CAO Kevin Nagoya emphasizing the program's significance in providing a discreet option for individuals facing challenges. He remarked, "What this program has articulated in the delegation is a way for an individual that might be having some life challenges and being able to drop their baby off in a scenario or situation that is quite anonymous and go through the process to be able to have that child still have a very good life and other challenges that are there."

Nagoya also addressed the administrative confusion surrounding the program, noting, "It was of interest that, although it's an Alberta Health Services program, it is [also] Covenant Health, two facilities that are delivering these programs."

During the meeting, Nagoya highlighted the "Safe Baby Haven Box program" presented to the delegation, noting its status as a Covenant Health initiative. Meanwhile, Alberta Health Services runs a similar program known as the "Angel Cradle Program."

Nagoya added the reason for administration not contacting Cold Lake Hospital, which falls under the AHS umbrella. The preference expressed was to remain affiliated with Covenant Health.

The Safe Haven Baby Boxes program mission is to prevent illegal abandonment of newborns by raising awareness, offering a 24-hour hotline for mothers in crisis and offering the Safe Haven Baby Boxes as a last resort option for women who want to maintain complete anonymity, according to the Safe Haven Baby Box website.

Discussions ensued regarding the operational intricacies of the program, with an emphasis on continuous monitoring and immediate access to healthcare facilities. Regarding the relationship between Alberta Health Services and Covenant Health, Nagoya remarked, "I did get some conflicting conversation because it seems like AHS is not involved in the program, but that being said we did get confirmation from Strathmore, from them, that they have a partnership with Alberta Health Services in this regard."

Nagoya added that there is a Safe Baby Haven program known as “Angel Cradles” located at the Strathmore Fire Station.

Coun. Vicki Lefebvre voiced support for the program's intent but expressed reservations about its feasibility given existing strains on healthcare and social services.

“I think this is a really noble idea and it would be awesome if we could save a child's life, if that should come to it. I'm not really sure if there has ever been a demand here, and I understand we could never find out if that happened because of the sensitivity of the nature of the... I'm leaving my child somewhere there,” she said.

“I'm not sure if we're at the stage where we're ready to have something like this set up or whatever for the future,” Lefebvre added. “I just think it's going to take a lot of work, not necessarily all hours, but of the health system we have now and of different agencies. And right now, they're currently taxed quite heavily.”

Mayor Craig Copeland echoed similar sentiments, stating, "I think at a minimum, if you want, Kevin (CAO) and myself can try to get a meeting with Covenant (Health) down in Bonnyville to see if they're even open to being the recipient of the spot."

The meeting concluded with deliberations on drafting a motion to direct administration to initiate discussions with Covenant Health in Bonnyville. Despite differing opinions and concerns, there was a consensus on the importance of thorough exploration and collaboration in addressing the community's needs.


Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lakeland This Week