The government of Alberta failed in its duty to report the death of a child in care “in a timely manner,” says Heather Klimchuk, who vowed her department will investigate where the system broke down.
Alberta’s human services minister was speaking about a six-month-old girl who died on Jan. 4.
“In this case, the death was reported two months late,” Klimchuk said. “So, that’s something I’m looking at. This is not acceptable. I need to investigate, and the results of that investigation will be made public.”
Last fall, the province changed the way it reports the deaths of children who are in government care or are receiving government services. Those deaths are listed on the website of the Human Services department, and that list is updated monthly.
In this case, the list on the website had several entries, including one that read: “March 2, 2015: the Ministry of Human Services learned of the death on January 4 of a six-month-old female who was receiving services (not in care).”
Klimchuk said the little girl’s family received government support at the time of the child’s death.
An internal government process put in place last year was intended to ensure that such deaths are reported “in a timely manner,” she said.
In most cases, it would take from four to 10 days to report such a death, she said.
But this child’s death went unreported for two months.
According to the Human Services website, the timing of the release of information about children’s deaths must take into consideration notification of the family and any required third-parties.
Deaths cannot be posted before the medical examiner, and in some cases police and the Child Advocate’s office, have finished their work.
Klimchuk was quick to admit the reporting system failed in this case.