Deaths of kids in intervention hit 15-year high in Alberta

During 2022–2023, 50 young people died while receiving intervention in Alberta. This surpassed last year’s record of 49.

I recently came across a report from alberta’s ministry of children’s services which outlines the number of deaths of children, youth, and young adults who are receiving child intervention services.

According to this report, 50 young people died while receiving child intervention services in Alberta during the 2022–2023 reporting year. This is the highest level since at least 2008–2009, surpassing the previous record, which was set in just the previous year.

Here’s how the numbers break down for last year’s death:

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Initial assessment9
Not in care6
In care19
Over 18 & receiving intervention supports16

The deaths of those in care were at their highest level since at least 2008–2009. The previous high was 13, set in 2010–2011. Plus, Alberta hasn’t seen double digit deaths for young people in care since 2014–2015.

The report also includes a breakdown by cause of death.

Death not investigated by OCME*11
Death occurred outside of Alberta0
* Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

Almost half of the deaths (21) are still under investigation, and it may be years before we find out the cause. As of this report, for example, there were 10 deaths from the 2021–2022 that are still classified to “pending”, as well as 1 death from 2015–2016.

Of those deaths that have a determined cause, the highest number were categorized as accidental. The 12 accidental deaths from last year are significantly lower than the 22 reported for the previous year. Remember, however, that over 20 deaths are still under investigation, so this number could change.

This dying of homicide, natural causes, and suicide are all at lower levels than the previous year.


Out of the 50 young people who died while receiving intervention last year, 41 were Indigenous. That amounts to 82% of all deaths. In other words, for every 5 young people who died while receiving intervention, 4 of them were Indigenous.

That’s the highest rate of deaths for Indigenous young people over the last 15 years, bypassing the previous high of 79.59% set in 2021–2022.

The vast majority deaths overall (not just those of Indigenous young people) were children 5 years old or younger. Last year, 15 of the 50 young people who died while receiving intervention were 5 years old or younger. This is the highest number since 2017–2018. when it had reached 16.

Over the last 15 years, the number of children who were younger than 6 years old has only been in the single digits twice.

Finally, here’s deaths of children under the age of 6, as a percentage of total deaths. While it was higher last year than the previous year, the percentage has been trending down over the last decade.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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