Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development, has released the following statement regarding birth alerts:
“Effective immediately, British Columbia is ending the child welfare practice known as hospital or birth alerts.
“Used in hospitals for decades in B.C. and in other provinces and territories, these alerts are issued, without the consent of the expectant parents, where there is a potential safety risk to infants at birth.
“We are changing the way we work with and support high-risk expectant parents to keep newborns safe and families together through a collaborative, rather than an involuntary, model. Health care providers and social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent from those parents and will stop the practice of birth alerts.
“We know that birth alerts have been primarily issued for marginalized women and, disproportionately, Indigenous women. We acknowledge the trauma women experience when they become aware that a birth alert has been issued. We also heard calls to end this practice from Indigenous communities, organizations and the report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“Moving to a voluntary approach of providing early supports and preventative services to expectant parents will help them plan and safely care for their babies. This change to practice allows for a more trusting, collaborative relationship with service providers right from the beginning, while empowering women, their families and their communities to work together to care for their children.
“This step is consistent with my mandate from Premier John Horgan to provide better supports to keep Indigenous children at home and out of care. It responds directly to the recommendation from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls to stop using birth alerts and reflects our commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.
“As always, a child’s safety and well-being is our first priority. Because we know that children thrive when they can live safely with family, connected to their culture and community, our every effort must be on strengthening families and keeping them whole.”