Saskatchewan to end birth alerts next month: social services minister

·1 min read

REGINA — Saskatchewan's social services minister says the province will soon end the practice of social workers or health professionals informing government officials when a baby is born to a mother deemed high risk.

Lori Carr says the government heard from First Nations groups who wanted to see an end to so-called birth alerts.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and other advocates have criticized the alerts as leading to high numbers of Indigenous newborns being separated from their mothers and taken into government care.

The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called on governments and child-welfare agencies to end the practice.

The Saskatchewan government says 53 of 76 alerts issued last year involved Indigenous women.

Carr says the practice is to end Feb. 1 and the ministry will work with community groups to support expectant mothers and ensure hospital staff contact these groups if there are concerns.

"We'll just make sure that mother is in contact with their right community-based organization to get the best help at that point in time," she said Tuesday.

"As we move forward, it's just honestly working so closely with those community-based organizations and our health-care professionals to ensure that nobody does fall through the cracks and that they get the right service at the right time."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2020

Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press