The number of Saskatchewan babies apprehended in their first month of life has risen 42 percent over the past five years, a Freedom of Information request filed by the Saskatchewan NDP reveals. Such apprehensions of children less than 30 days of age have risen each of the past five years, from 104 apprehensions in 2013 to 148 in 2017.
“The last thing we’d want to be announcing on National Child Day is that over six hundred babies have been taken away from Saskatchewan families over the past five years,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili, “And for those entire five years, we’ve been waiting on this government’s promised overhaul of the foster care system, which they first announced six years ago.”
From 2013 to 2017, the total number of children in care increased from 4492 to 5212. During that same period, the percentage of Indigenous children among children in care increased from 67 percent to 72 percent. The percentage of children who were Indigenous among those who died in care increased from 62 percent to 79 percent.
In neighbouring Manitoba, the provincial government has struck a committee and developed recommendations to address the issue, and as a result has seen the number of kids in care drop for the first time in 15 years. And compared to Saskatchewan’s rising number of baby apprehensions, Manitoba’s number has been relatively flat, dropping 15 percent over the last three years.
“In my previous work as a family doctor, I saw firsthand the grief and distress that new parents went through as a result of these apprehensions, and the harm they do to children and families,” said Meili. “We know there are better ways to support young families and our government simply isn’t doing enough to move from words to action on this issue.”