Early last week, the BC Government announced an immediate end to birth alerts. Minister of Children and Family Development, Katrine Controy, explains that birth alerts are “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.” The recommendation to end birth alerts was heard loudly in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which explains that “the use of birth alerts against Indigenous mothers, including mothers who were in care themselves, can be the sole basis for the apprehension of their newborn children. Birth alerts are racist and discriminatory and are a gross violation of the rights of the child, the mother, and the community (page 355).” There is a full section in the report dedicated to birth alerts (pages 364-368).
In a recent Tyee article, First Call Provincial Coordinator Adrienne Montani says, “where there is a legitimate concern about risk, I would hope that it would mean instead the response would be ‘let’s wrap supports around this family’.”