ALBERTA

Alison Redford On Foster Care Deaths: Issue Close To My Heart

02/02/2014 05:22 EST | Updated 02/02/2014 05:59 EST
Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta Premier Alison Redford said Sunday that concern about the deaths of children in government care in the province is an issue that is close to her.

In a blog post, Redford said Alberta's child welfare system was built for a time when the province only had one million residents. The ways in which people accessed data was also different, she said.

"As a mom and Premier of our great province, protecting our most vulnerable children is something I hold near to my heart," said Redford.

Redford sat in on a discussion with experts and policy-makers about how to change provincial laws to reveal more information about children who die in government care last week.

Alberta's human services minister said Wednesday there will be changes to open up public reporting of deaths of children in government care.

"The bottom line is I commit to the release of information," Manmeet Bhullar said on the final day of a two-day discussion on the topic.

"There are some pieces (of the existing legislation) that my gut says just don't make sense."

The talk was sparked by a Postmedia newspaper series late last year that revealed the province has used its privacy laws to avoid revealing the deaths of 89 children in care since 1999.

The laws currently prevent anyone — even the parents of a dead child — from speaking publicly about what happened.

Critics say the law is too sweeping and can be abused by government officials trying to cover up poor care or lack of oversight.

With files from The Canadian Press

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