Investigation

Birth Alerts

In the fall of 2020, IndigiNews filed a Freedom of Information request to the B.C. government about ‘birth alerts.’ 

When a social worker feels an expectant parent may put their newborn at risk, they can issue a “birth alert” or a “hospital alert,” flagging the expectant parent to hospital staff without their consent, and directing them to notify social workers as soon as the baby’s born. 

This controversial practice has been stopped in several regions including British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, but elsewhere in Canada these alerts are still being used. 

Our birth alerts investigation reveals that months prior to calling an end to the practice in B.C., the Ministry of Children and Family Development was informed by B.C.’s Attorney General that birth alerts are “illegal and unconstitutional.”

This revelation could have major implications for families who have been impacted by birth alerts across the country.