Newborn baby found outside Georgina fire hall, police investigating
A newborn baby boy is said to be in good health after being found outside a fire hall in Georgina, Ont. early Tuesday morning.
It was shortly after 3 a.m. when fire crews at the hall in Sutton heard the sounds of a baby crying.
When they went to investigate, Georgina Fire Chief Ron Jenkins said the firefighters discovered an infant wrapped in a blanket and lying near the back doors.
He said the crew stationed at the hall at the time had responded to a call at another location and had only been gone about 20 minutes.
“Upon returning to the station they could hear an infant crying,” Jenkins said. “Crews obviously tended to the needs of the infant, they checked it for a medical condition.”
Jenkins said the baby was “warm” and appeared to be in good health, leading them to believe that the child wasn’t there very long.
York Regional Police responded to the fire hall a short time later.
“There was no signs of exposure of or? anything like that that would cause us concerns,” Const. Andy Pattenden said.
The infant, who is believed to be just two days old, was taken to Southlake Regional Health Centre as a precaution.
Pattenden said there is no indication that the baby was born in a hospital, which has left investigators concerned about the mother.
"Our focus is on the health of the mother," Pattenden said. "We are asking her to seek any medical treatment if she needs it."
The investigation is ongoing. The Children’s Aid Society has been contacted.
A firefighter working at the time, who wished to remain anonymous, told CTV News Toronto that they believe the person who dropped the child off was monitoring the fire hall, looking for a window while crews were away.
Neighbours said they are accustomed to fire trucks coming and going from the hall, but that the incident involving the baby is unusual.
“I was up around two o’clock and I heard somebody talking out there, but I never bothered looking out,” said one woman.
‘Safe haven’ laws nonexistent in Canada
In Canada, abandoning a child under the age of 10 is considered a Criminal Code offence. Though the law in Canada is rarely enforced, those found guilty of the offence could face up to five years in prison.
However, all of the U.S. states have a version of “safe haven” legislation, which allows parents to leave a child in a safe place, such as a hospital, and walk away anonymously and without penalty. In Europe, they’re called “hatchery laws.”
The lack of legislation in Canada has pushed organizations focused on abuse and the rights of children to lobby the government for change. Advocates have suggested the country adopt the same sort of legislation as the U.S.
Some Canadian cities have taken matters into their own hands while laws remain unchanged.
In Vancouver, at St. Paul’s Hospital downtown, the “Angel’s Cradle” provides another option. Modelled after similar programs in Europe, the hospital set up a crib and blanket outside the emergency department where parents in vulnerable situations can leave a child safely and without risk of being identified.
When a child is placed in the crib and the door is closed, an alarm sounds minutes later, alerting staff and leaving time for the parent to flee.
In Edmonton, angel cradles are available at Grey Nuns Community Hospital and Misericordia Community Hospital.
A motion was put forward at Toronto council in 2013 to set-up a drop-off box at a city hospital, but it did not pass.