Progress made, but Canada yet to fully implement UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says new report
TORONTO November 1, 2011 – A new report has revealed that although progress is being made to strengthen the rights of Canadian children, too many young people continue to face unnecessary obstacles to safe and healthy development.
“Realizing the rights of all children and supporting them to develop their full potential is not only the right thing to do and a legal obligation, it is also a good economic and social investment for all Canadians,” says UNICEF Canada’s Chief Advocacy Advisor, Marvin Bernstein. “Everyone in Canada, children and adults, will benefit if we make the well-being of children a higher priority.”
The report, released by the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, “Right in Principle, Right in Practice”, is based on three years of research and collaboration with more than 30 organizations that support young people across the country, including UNICEF Canada.
The report is being submitted today, November 1, to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child for its third review of Canada’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Canada has made some progress implementing the Convention since the last review in 2003, including strengthening laws to protect children from sexual exploitation, increasing penalties for child trafficking and achieving a high degree of equality in children’s school achievement. In other important dimensions of child well-being, Canada lags behind other industrialized nations. For example, Canada ranks 17th of 24 industrialized countries in ensuring equality of basic resources and conditions necessary for child development, such as adequate family income. Canada has also failed to establish a National Children’s Commissioner or investigate policies that have a discriminatory impact on vulnerable groups of children, including Aboriginal children.
Solutions outlined in the new report include establishing a national Children’s Commissioner; using child rights impact assessments for proposed laws, policies and programs; and improving coordination across government departments and jurisdictions. Such actions would encourage the expansion of good practices, prevent children from falling through gaps in services, and treat children equitably across the country.
“Communities, organizations, business and all levels of government need to pay attention to the state of Canada’s children today. The vulnerable children we are leaving farther and farther behind should have better opportunities to develop their skills and fully contribute to society,” says Bernstein. Among the groups of children being left behind are children in low-income families, Aboriginal children, children in government care, migrant children and children with disabilities.
This report and others from child-serving organizations are being prepared in response to the Government of Canada’s report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The UN Committee will issue a series of observations and recommendations to Canada. “As we approach the twentieth anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 2011, these reports provide important benchmarks and a unique opportunity to advance public and parliamentary discussion about how well Canada’s children are faring and how far we have come in fulfilling children’s rights in Canada,” says Bernstein.
The “Right in Principle, Right in Practice” report is available online here.