Bill C-78 proposes significant changes in the laws that affect children caught up in the separation and/or divorce of their parents and related family court processes. Legislative changes that will make the best interests of the children the paramount consideration for all actors is positive. It makes Canada’s laws more consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This was one of the recommendations at a 2009 CCRC Conference on the Best Interests of the Child.
For the first time, federal legislation will make consideration of the views of the child mandatory, and it encourages less adversarial processes, which are better for children. Strengthening the mechanisms to ensure children receive child support payments can help to address Canada’s unacceptably high rate of arrears in child support payments, which contribute to child poverty in Canada. Requiring special consideration for children in cases that involve domestic violence responds to one of the specific recommendations Canada received in the last review of children’s rights.
The CCRC proposes that parliament ensure these processes take account of all the rights of children by making explicit reference to Canada’s ratification of the Convention. In a submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the CCRC also draws attention to the importance of public and legal education based on the Convention, so that children and all the parties involved in these processes are aware of the rights of the children involved.