One of the most difficult issues I’ve had to deal with in my time in the Alberta Legislature is how our province treats children in care. Simply put, one preventable death of a child in care is too many. After yet another tragedy, the government created the all-party Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention in late 2016.

The mandate of the panel was to explore and recommend ways to improve Alberta’s child death review system and strengthen the intervention system as a whole, and in particular to address the vast over-representation of indigenous kids in care.

For nearly two years we met with families, communities, stakeholders, child intervention experts, frontline staff and Indigenous leaders across Alberta to develop consensus-based recommendations to improve the health and well-being of children and families.

The outcome of our work was a report titled A Stronger, Safer Tomorrow. The document outlines 39 actions that will be taken to improve services for Indigenous families, increase supports for children, youth and all caregivers, and address the funding gap on-reserve. Sixteen of the actions are to be complete by April 2019 and the remainder will be completed by 2022.  To date, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta has passed two bills enacting some of the changes recommended by our panel, and I was proud to propose, and pass, amendments that strengthened the legislation.

I am honoured to have been a part of this life changing process and will follow through to ensure the recommendations are actually implemented, and that government  meets its commitment to work with Indigenous peoples to put the plan into action within the timelines provided.

This process is a rare example of MLAs working across party lines. If I am re-elected as MLA in Calgary-Elbow I will push to ensure we see more of these sorts of efforts, especially when dealing with challenging issues that impact some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Panel activity: By the numbers (https://www.alberta.ca/child-intervention-panel.aspx)

  • 5 communities visited, in 3 Treaty areas
  • 12 months of panel activity
  • 35 panel meetings held across Alberta
  • 65+ total presentations heard
  • 339 public submissions received
  • 300+ past recommendations reviewed
  • 448 total submissions received from the public, stakeholders and others
  • 3,000+ pages of submissions reviewed by the panel
  • 8,000+ visits to the panel website

You can learn more about the work of the panel here: https://www.alberta.ca/child-intervention-panel.aspx, and track the progress of the implementation plan here: https://www.alberta.ca/child-intervention-action-plan.aspx