Current Problems

Child Welfare (1-5)

Child and Youth Advocate releases update on investigative reviews into child deaths and serious injuries

April 9, 2024

Among the 47 young people who passed away, 35 were Indigenous.

“More must be done to provide Indigenous young people with the supports they need and to help them stay connected with their families, communities, and cultures,” said Pelton.

One of the most frequent causes of death among those who passed away was drug toxicity, with several children beginning substance use at very young ages. For instance, Jonah and Tara, who passed away at ages 17 and 16 respectively from fentanyl and methamphetamine toxicity, both began using substances at age 12.

“It’s deeply concerning to see children as young as 12 using substances, and sadly, we’ve seen even younger in the past,” said Pelton. “When children and families are struggling, it’s crucial they receive early support and care so we can reduce the number of lives lost to this crisis.”

The findings of the 48 individual investigative reviews will inform a consolidated investigative review report, which will make recommendations to government to improve the circumstances of young people in similar situations. The Advocate anticipates the consolidated investigative report will be released in the Fall of 2024.

The individual investigative reviews for each of the young people can be found here:

The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an independent office of the Alberta Legislature. It represents the rights, interests, and viewpoints of children and youth receiving designated government services.

Media inquiries:

Stephanie Shantz
Manager, Communications
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate


Investigations Summary for April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024

83 total notifications of death and serious injury received in 2023–2024

  • Notifications were received for 68 young people who passed away and 15 who had been seriously injured
  • Investigative reviews for notifications received are completed and publicly released within one year of notification of the young person’s serious injury or death

Investigative reviews for 48 young people completed and publicly released in 2023–2024

  • 47 deaths; one serious injury
  • 35 out of the 47 young people who passed away were Indigenous
  • At the time of their passing or serious injury, 12 of the young people were in care, 20 were receiving child intervention services, and 16 had received services within the previous two years
Placement (for those in care or receiving services)
Parental care11
Independent Living8
Kinship care4
Foster care3
Group care2
Supported Independent Living2
Campus-Based Care1
In Care of the Director-Whereabouts Known1
Age Groups
0-5 years old11
6-11 years old7
12-17 years old17
18+ years old13
Manner of Death
Accidental20 (10 drug and alcohol)
Victim of Violence3
1 serious injury pending