N.L. will stop issuing alerts when babies are born to mothers deemed high risk

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s government says it will stop informing child-welfare officials when a baby is born to a mother deemed high risk.

Advocates and Indigenous leaders have long said so-called birth alerts disproportionately affect Indigenous mothers and result in high numbers of their newborns placed into institutional care.

A statement today from the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development says the move is in keeping with recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

The department would not say when the last birth alert was issued or how many had been issued in the past, but said the practice will end Wednesday.

The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called on governments and child-welfare agencies to stop birth alerts, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for a reduction in the number of Indigenous children in institutional care.

Since 2019, several provinces including British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario have also ended birth alerts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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