EDMONTON - Today, The Child and Youth Advocate released their annual report. This report included the disturbing revelation that the office of the Advocate saw the highest number of deaths of young people in care since 2012, the year the office received a mandate to conduct investigative reviews. Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta, issued the following statement in response:
“One death of a child in care is one too many. 44 deaths is a catastrophe. This represents a massive 29.4% increase in deaths of children in care over last year. This is an outrage.
“Successive governments have failed to do what is necessary to protect children. Preliminary research from Public Interest Alberta and the Edmonton Social Planning Council shows that child poverty rates are climbing back to pre-pandemic levels. One in six children in Alberta today is living in poverty, leading to a lifetime of knockdown effects including academic difficulties, poorer health outcomes, and a far higher likelihood of living in poverty as an adult.
“We thank the Child and Youth Advocate for ringing the alarm on this issue. This shows the vital importance of having independent advocates with a clear mandate to investigate and make recommendations to improve the system.
“We are demanding that the UCP government commit the requisite resources from Alberta’s services to address child poverty, including adequate income supports and other programs and services to ensure we make progress on ending child poverty.
“In the new year, Public Interest Alberta and the Edmonton Social Planning Council will be releasing their full child poverty report showing just how far we’ve fallen in Alberta when it comes to addressing child poverty.
“We need action and we need it now. The government must act immediately to address the root causes of poverty in our province, including significant investments in housing, in income supports, and in early intervention to ensure the best possible outcomes for children in care. Children in care cannot afford to wait.”