Indigenous mother proposes class-action lawsuit on birth alerts in Manitoba

Birth alerts are the system of seizing infants from their mothers in hospital after birth

Birth Alerts

Indigenous families are disproportionately impacted by birth alerts. Photo: APTN file


A woman whose newborn was removed by police and social workers in a video broadcast live on social media in 2019 has proposed a class-action lawsuit against the Manitoba government.

The woman says in a statement of claim filed this week that birth alerts are unlawful, breach charter rights and cause significant harm to mothers and children.

Birth alerts – the system of seizing infants from their mothers in hospital after birth – have long been criticized by Indigenous leaders who say the practice is stacked against their families.

Public outcry intensified when the video was released online showing police taking the newborn at a Winnipeg hospital as the mother wept nearby.

The province stopped using birth alerts the following year, saying it was discouraging expectant mothers and families from reaching out for prenatal support.

The province says it is unable to provide comment on the lawsuit because the matter is before the court.

The Canadian Press