Quebec puts an end to “baby alerts”, which consisted of notifying the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ) of an unborn baby in an environment presumed to be at high risk of abuse. The practice, considered discriminatory, is replaced by a prevention program.
The minister responsible for social services, Lionel Carmant, confirmed on Friday the abolition of reports at birth. An internal directive has been sent to the health and social services network in this regard.
A person worried about an unborn child could previously alert the DYP so that birthing establishments could exercise additional vigilance after birth and report the situation, if necessary.
However, this practice was deemed to discriminate against certain groups who found themselves overrepresented in the youth protection system.
In a La Presse report published in 2021, Indigenous women recounted having given birth in anguish that their baby would be snatched from their arms. They demanded the abolition of “baby alerts”, which led to “inhumane” and “traumatic” situations.
It should be noted that when the security and development of the child seem to be compromised, the obligation to report remains applicable after the birth of the infant.
The old mechanism is replaced by the “implementation of a plan of preventive and intensive services in the prenatal period”, the details of which have not been specified. “The latter makes it possible to ensure a tight and proactive framework from pregnancy when a child is likely to be born in a family context at high risk of abuse”, indicates the press release.
Nor is it detailed who will take on this new responsibility, although the announcement mentions “frontline responders” and “community organizations”.
According to Minister Lionel Carmant, these professionals “remain in the best position to direct parents to the necessary resources and offer early care that will benefit parents, but also the unborn child”, he reacted.
Quebec is notably following in the footsteps of the provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick, which have both ended the practice of birth notification in recent years.