The Ontario government is eliminating the controversial practice of birth alerts where notifications are sent by children’s aid societies to hospitals when they believe a newborn may be in need of protection.
In a press release issued today, the government says the new approach will improve pre- and post-natal services by promoting collaboration between children's aid societies, hospitals, service providers, Indigenous partners and community-based service providers.
"Ending the use of birth alerts is an important step as we shift our focus to prevention, early intervention and improve outcomes for families and their children," said Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, Jill Dunlop in a statement.
Removing the use of birth alerts, also referred to as hospital alerts, was a recommendation from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Birth alerts have received criticism for disproportionately affecting racialized and marginalized mothers and families.
Expectant mothers can be deterred from seeking prenatal care or parenting support due to fears of a birth alert being issued and their child being taken away from them.
Birth alerts have never been required under provincial legislation and the government says they have been used inconsistently by children’s aid societies across Ontario.
"By ending the use of birth alerts and encouraging collaborative alternatives for children's aid societies and other health care providers, expectant parents will be better supported in accessing community resources before the birth of their child," said Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities in a statement.
Children’s aid societies in Ontario are being directed to stop using birth alerts by October 15, 2020.