FREDERICTON (GNB) – A new process aims to increase transparency in reviewing and reporting child deaths. This, in turn, is meant to help the Child Death Review Committee with informing the public and making recommendations to the government.

“All New Brunswickers want the children of our province to live healthy, happy lives,” said Chief Coroner Greg Forestell. “We believe New Brunswickers will be reassured by receiving additional information and learning more about what work is being done to prevent child deaths in our province.”

The mandate of the committee is to consider the facts and circumstances surrounding the sudden and unexpected death of children under the age of 19 and to make recommendations, when appropriate, to the Office of the Chief Coroner.

Following consultations with the integrity commissioner and the child and youth advocate, the following changes are being made:

  • The terms of reference for the committee have been revised to better reflect the goals of the process review.
  • Brief anonymized summaries of the circumstances of a child’s death will be released, along with report recommendations. The summaries will ensure all legislated privacy requirements are met while also providing more information, such as the child’s age and the cause and circumstances surrounding their death.
  • The Office of the Chief Coroner will release an annual summary report of work accomplished by the committee.
  • The committee will conduct a cursory review of all child deaths and carry out full reviews of all children who die while in the care of the government or any case referred for full review by the chief coroner.
  • There will be more accountability in terms of tracking responses to the committee’s recommendations to the government.

“I am pleased the government is taking this step forward towards improving transparency and improving the child death review process,” said Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé. “These changes will strengthen the review process and help ensure the government can take any necessary measure to help protect our most vulnerable population.”

The Office of the Chief Coroner will continue to collaborate with the Office of the Integrity Commissioner and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate to ensure the public reporting provides increased transparency while maintaining appropriate privacy and respect for the deceased and their families.

“Our goal in conducting a review of the Child Death Review Committee was to establish a better balance between the public’s right to information and New Brunswickers’ right to privacy,” said Integrity Commissioner Alexandre Deschênes. “We are confident these changes to the review process will achieve this balance, while allowing the committee to continue its crucial role in the protection of children.”