Halifax police investigating death of teen who was in care of province
The death of a young girl who was in the care of the province of Nova Scotia and living in a group home is under investigation by police and the Department of Community Services.
The 16-year-old died under unexplained circumstances Sunday afternoon in north-end Halifax.
Officers on-scene told CTV it was a drug overdose, but police say autopsy and toxicology reports haven't been done yet, so the cause of death hasn't been confirmed.
“It’s under investigation and it’s been referred to our general investigation section,” said Const. Diane Woodworth of Halifax Regional Police.
The death happened just before 2 p.m. in the 5000 block of Macara Street.
CTV is not identifying the victim as she was under the care of the province. She lived in a group home for girls under 18. She was in a private residence and not at the group home when she died.
Her father says police have told them they're still looking into the circumstances of her death.
Former social worker and now Interim NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald wants to know exactly what happened that Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t think we have a large rate of children dying in care, but then again we don’t really know because there isn’t a lot of reporting in a kind of public way,” said MacDonald.
Nova Scotia Minister of Community Services Joanne Bernard says she's alerted as soon as there's a serious incident involving children in care, but has yet to see a fatality since becoming minister in 2013.
“Not under my watch, no,” said Bernard. “Certainly you know it has happened in Nova Scotia like it’s happened in every province in Canada.”
A 2014 child death review done by the office of the ombudsman calls for an independent, interagency review after a youth dies in care.
“What came out in 2014, we adhere to that and we work with that office,” said Bernard.
“When something goes wrong, you need to have an independent, arms-length review to help you identify, were there gaps, and how can we prevent this in the future,” said MacDonald.
MacDonald said the auditor general looked at the standards of child protection in 2013 and there will be another review aimed at keeping those standards up to date later this year.
The teen’s family has started an online fundraiser to help bring her back to her hometown in Ontario.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kelly Linehan.