Foster child’s death prompts call for change

EDMONTON — The lawyer for a mother whose child died in foster care says not only is the province refusing to tell her what happened, it won’t even have autopsy results until next winter.

EDMONTON — The lawyer for a mother whose child died in foster care says not only is the province refusing to tell her what happened, it won’t even have autopsy results until next winter.

“I still can’t believe it’s going to take another five and half months to find out why this baby died,” lawyer Larry McConnell said Wednesday.

“The government does not want this story out. The only way I’m going to find out is if I sue them.”

McConnell has been retained by the mother to look into the death of her four-month-old daughter, which occurred April 11 at a hospital in Edmonton.

Privacy laws forbid publication of any information that could identify the mother or child.

McConnell says the case is a cascade of misjudgments, negligence and abuse of law.

It began, he said, a week before the child died when Alberta social workers arrived at the woman’s home to take her roommate’s children into custody.

“My client says that lady was not treating her children properly,” said McConnell. “But as far as my client goes, no.”

He said the social workers, who were accompanied by a Mountie, decided on the spot to also take the four-month-old.

In sworn statements, they said they took emergency action because they believed the mother might be an alcoholic, that a psychiatric assessment might be needed, and that living conditions were unhealthy.

McConnell said the operative word is “might.”

“She (the social worker) doesn’t say my (client) abuses alcohol. She doesn’t say if there’s a mental health problem, and she doesn’t say if there’s any addiction. And she can’t say because she only met my client for 20 minutes.”

Rachel Notley of the opposition NDP said this is the second time in three months that the government had a child die in foster care without informing the public it had happened.

“The minister needs to start publicly notifying Albertans when there’s a fatality of a child in care.”