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Canada to be reviewed on its child rights record

2012-09-26

TORONTO, September 26, 2012 – On September 26-27, the Canadian Government will meet with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva, Switzerland to report on its progress and challenges in fulfilling its obligations for children.

By accepting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, Canada accepted a duty to protect the rights of its seven million children. The UN Committee reviews countries’ progress every five years and the outcomes have the potential to improve the conditions in which Canadian children and youth are growing up.

The Canadian Government will take questions from the UN Committee covering various issues including why the government has still not established a national Children’s Commissioner, it’s record on Aboriginal children, and its policies on youth justice and child migration.

Canada has made some progress implementing the Convention since the last review in 2003, including strengthening laws to protect children from sexual exploitation, supporting programs such as Aboriginal Head Start, and sustaining a high degree of equality in children’s school achievement.

“Despite some progress, significant inequities in health and readiness for school affect children in families across the socioeconomic range, and too many Aboriginal children are left behind,” said David Morley, UNICEF Canada’s President and CEO. “All levels of government need to make children a higher priority. This review is an opportunity for the our government to show it takes these issues seriously. As a leader in the world community and one of its wealthiest nations we have the resources to achieve better conditions so all our children grow up healthy, safe and prepared for adulthood.”

UNICEF Canada will observe the session in Geneva. In August, UNICEF Canada contributed to a report on the state of children’s rights in Canada (Right in Principle, Right in Practice) to the UN Committee as part of the reporting process.

For the first time, the review will be streamed live to the public at www.treatybodywebcast.org, enabling Canadians to be part of the process.

“The review of Canada’s children’s rights commitments is less about reporting to the UN and more about reporting to Canadians on how the Government of Canada is fulfilling its role,” said Mr. Morley. “Following the review, the UN will recommend ways Canada can improve conditions for children in line with our commitments. We hope the government will decide to establish a national Children’s Commissioner as a fundamental first step.”

The latest UNICEF research shows that Canada’s child poverty rate is worse than two-thirds of other industrialized nations. Most disturbingly, the poverty rate among children in Canada is higher than the average rate among Canadians. This would not be the case if children were a priority for policy-makers. Some provinces and other countries have put children ahead of other interests, with positive results.

Canada’s Parliament and provincial and territorial Legislatures should be responsible for discussing the UN’s recommendations and monitoring every year the progress the federal, provincial and territorial governments are making.

UNICEF Canada has found that countries/regions including Australia, Scotland and Wales that were recently reviewed have taken significant steps to improve the lives of children, such as the Australian Government’s decision earlier this year to provide its children with a national Children’s Commissioner – leaving Canada one of the few industrialized nations without this kind of champion in government.

More information is available at www.unicef.ca/turnupthevolume or by joining the online Twitter conversation with hashtag #CdnUNCRC. You can also access Canada’s reports on children’s rights by visiting: www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs61.htm

Live webcast of the UN review:

Webcast viewing schedule: www.treatybodywebcast.org

Wednesday, September 26:
3 pm to 6 pm in Geneva (9 am to 12 pm EST)

Thursday, September 27:
10 am to 1 pm in Geneva (4 am to 7 am EST)
3 pm to 6 pm in Geneva (9 am to 12 pm EST)

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About UNICEF 

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive.

For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.

For further information:

Stefanie Carmichael, Communications Specialist, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8866; Cell: (647) 500-4230, scarmichael@unicef.ca.
Tiffany Baggetta, Director, Communications and Brand, (416) 482-6552 ext. 8892; Cell: (647) 308-4806, tbaggetta@unicef.ca.