In 2012 Canada was specifically asked to address the high incidence of obesity in children by, among other steps, “ensuring greater regulatory controls over the production and advertisement of fast food and unhealthy foods, especially those targeted to children. (Concluding Observations, paragraph 64, CRC/C/CAN/CO/3-4, page 15) This was one recommendation among many in the last review of how Canada implements children’s rights. The CCRC welcomed the inclusion of this policy initiative in the mandate letter for the Minister of Health shortly after the election in 2015.
Two years later, news reports suggest that the policy development process is mired in conflicting pressures from food production companies and competing economic development interests. There is little evidence that the rights of children are being taken seriously, let alone being at the center for all the stakeholders in this debate. How might the Convention help?
The obligation to give priority to the Best Interests of Children (Article 3) puts impacts for children at the top, higher than impacts for business interests. How are the best interests of children being determined? If all stakeholders put that as a priority, resolution of differences would keep children at the forefront.
Children have a right to enjoy the “highest attainable standard of health” under Article 24. Minimum standards and lowest denominator approaches need to be replaced by a focus on the best possible set of policies and actions by all stakeholders. Instead of doing the least possible, we should do the most we can for the highest nutritional health of children.
Children have a right to information (Article 13), with specific provisions for the mass media “to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child” and “protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being” (Article 18). Is nutritional information youth-friendly? Are the views of young people being considered, to enable them to make well-informed decisions? How do the standards for advertising and packaging information comply with respect for the rights of children, as articulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which all governments in Canada have ratified?
This issue is another example of how taking children’s rights seriously could improve the way governance works in Canada. Unfortunately Canada lacks a robust mechanism to ensure that the Convention is considered for every policy that affects children. The CCRC calls for the use of Children’s Rights Impact Assessments (CRIA); it would force everyone to put children at the center and come up with the best possible options.
How well are children’s rights in education fulfilled across Canada? In a discussion paper, the CCRC reviews the recommendations Canada received during its last review of children’s rights, notes some indicators of progress, and suggests what we hope to see in the next report, which will be submitted in July 2018. In particular, Canada was asked to inform children of their rights through the education system and the use of government websites. This paper looks at provincial curriculum guides and federal government websites as indicators of progress. In addition, it highlights issues in equitable access and the kind of education described in Article 29.
This paper is part of preparing for the next review. The CCRC invites discussion and feedback from readers who have experience or interest in this area of children’s rights in Canada.
On July 10th 2015, a forum was held at the Université de Moncton, in New Brunswick, bringing together non-governmental organizations from across Canada to advance discussion in support of the establishment of an independent officer of Parliament responsible for protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of Canadian children and youth between the ages of 0-18. The product of this meeting was a Joint Call to Action to which individuals and organizations across Canada are invited to endorse.
List of Endorsers
The rights of children with disabilities received attention during the first review of how Canada implements the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Concluding Observations includes recommendations relating to: inclusive education and teacher training; services for parents so disability is not a reason to put a child in care; access to services for indigenous children with disabilities; attention to disabilities in the proposed poverty reduction strategy, and others. Several recommendations are similar to those for the Convention on the Rights of Children, including: data collection; federal-provincial cooperation; and monitoring progress. For this Convention, it is recommended that the Canadian Human Rights Commission take on the role of monitoring progress. Another area of common interest are negotiations to ratify a complaints process. The CCRC advocates for a complaints process for children’s rights as well.
Governments in Canada are starting to prepare for the next review of children’s rights and so is the CCRC. July 2018 is the deadline for Canada to submit an official report on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Canada. A key focus is action on the recommendations Canada received in 2012. Many of the recommendations reflected proposals made by the CCRC in its alternative report.
Action on the previous recommendations will be the focus of a CCRC campaign in the fall. The first step is collecting information from young people’s organizations across the country. The CCRC is looking for information and analysis that relates to all aspects of children’s rights in Canada. This will inform the fall campaign in Canada before the official report and an alternative report for use by the UN Committee when they review Canada’s record.
Read about the CCRC plans and how to become part of this process. This is the way to hold our governments accountable for progressive realization of children’s rights across Canada. Previous reports and updates are available on the Children’s Rights Monitoring Page.
To Build a “Strong, Fair Canada Built for Change” We Need Strong, Fair Childhoods Built for Change
Canada aspires to be an innovation nation, a focus of the commercial and social investments in Federal Budget 2017. It’s a vision to create better livelihoods and an economy that thrives in a rapidly changing world. To get there, we have to create the conditions in which our children and youth develop, learn, adapt and continue what they are great at – innovation.
Young people benefit from work experience, but they can also be exploited in the workplace. Knowing about the rules, their rights, and how to report unsafe working conditions or unfair treatment is essential for all young people. The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children (CCRC) is asking all governments, federal and provincial, to ensure that Canada is fulfilling its duties for young people in the workplace. One step is to inform young people across the country about their rights before Canada’s ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 138 comes into effect in June 2017. High rates of workplace injuries for young people indicate a need for improvement in the area of safety. Research done by the CCRC shows that improvements are needed in all provinces to fully protect the workplace rights of young people.
A Fact sheet provides an overview of the issues and recommendations for action. A Working Paper provides analysis for each province and steps needed to fully implement the workplace-related provisions in Convention on the Rights of the Child, ILO 138, and ILO 182.
This is the first in a series of updates the CCRC is doing in 2017 to follow up on Canada’s last review under the Convention and prepare for the next review in 2018.