TORONTO, 16 May 2019 – UNICEF Canada welcomes discussions on the best way forward for the establishment of a federal Commissioner for Children and Youth following the introduction of Bill C-451 An Act to Establish a Children's Health Commissioner of Canada.
A Commissioner for Children and Youth is a key role in government to ensure that children are a priority in decision-making. However, the Commissioner should not be restricted to addressing a single issue such as children’s health when all aspects of children’s lives necessitate a strong advocate representing them. Housing, food security, poverty reduction, the environment, and data and privacy issues would all be improved by giving children’s best interests higher consideration in discussions. The Children’s Health Commissioner of Canada, as proposed in Bill C-451, would be limited in their scope and prevented from addressing these areas, which have a monumental impact on child and youth well-being.
“Children in Canada can be encouraged that there is demonstrated support for a Commissioner for Children and Youth at the federal level from parliamentarians of every major political party,” said Lisa Wolff, UNICEF Canada’s Director of Policy & Research. “Given this widespread support, we should move forward immediately to establish an advocate for children to help ensure Canada’s 8 million kids have a louder voice in Ottawa.”
In April 2019, MP Anne Minh-Thu Quach (NDP-Salaberry—Suroît) introduced Bill C-441, An Act respecting the Office of the Commissioner for Young Persons in Canada. In June 2009, while in opposition, Minister Marc Garneau (Lib-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount) tabled Bill C-418, An Act to establish a Children’s Commissioner of Canada. In May 2012, Minister Garneau also tabled Bill C-420, the Commissioner for Children and Young Persons in Canada Act.
Together, working in close consultations with Indigenous organizations and communities to find the best path forward for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, all parties should continue discussions on the implementation of a federal Commissioner for Children and Youth.
UNICEF Canada emphasizes the need for Bill C-451 to address the concerns raised by Indigenous leaders about the most effective ways to fulfil the specific rights and duties owed to Indigenous children, while respecting their rights to self-determination and nation-to-nation relationships.
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About UNICEF Canada’s One Youth
From 25th to 1st place, UNICEF Canada’s One Youth is working to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up in. As the global UN agency for kids, UNICEF has worked to improve conditions for every child around the world for more than 70 years, and has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. UNICEF Canada’s One Youth brings that work to Canada, by building the new gold standard for measuring child well-being, and developing and testing innovative solutions to the challenges they face. We are calling on Canadians to take action and do better for children and youth.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations. For more information about UNICEF Canada’s One Youth, please visit http://www.oneyouthcanada.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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Communications Manager, UNICEF Canada
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