Children in Canada have less protection against violence than adults do. Current plans to reform Canada’s criminal justice system provide an opportunity to make the right of children to be free from all forms of violence, Article 19 in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, part of Canadian law. Stated plans to transform the criminal justice system to better reflect human rights is also an opportunity to respond to recommendations Canada received in its last review to better protect the rights of children involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, a CCRC submission supports the stated objective of expanding the use of restorative justice options within the criminal justice system.
Children are affected when their parents go through a divorce, but their rights are not well-protected in Canada’s current family laws. The CCRC welcomes plans to modernize the law and expand the unified family court system. Stronger protection for the rights of children should be central to this process. It is also an opportunity for Canada to incorporate the Convention into Canadian law and decision-making processes, something Canada was asked to do in the last review of how it implements the Convention. The CCRC submission makes several recommendations.
The case of Omar Khadr shows the importance of recognizing and protecting the rights of every child. Early recognition of Khadr’s rights as a child could have prevented harm to him and the need for redress and financial compensation now. In a public statement the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of the Child (CCRC) explains the role of children’s rights in this issue from early days through the Supreme Court case to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Judicial rulings in this case, along with cases in refugee determination and indigenous child welfare, highlight the need for the federal government to reform the mechanisms it uses to identify and protect the rights of children early in its decision-making processes.
A specific focus on children and the use of multiple indicators of deprivation are recommendations made by the CCRC for Canada’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. The CCRC also recommends short-term rolling targets to measure progress, a mix of income support and community programs, and youth participation. The submission highlights the importance of food security as a missing piece in the current patchwork of new programs, and it suggests that the coherent framework of the Convention on the Rights of the Child would help to maximize benefits from the individual pieces. CCRC Submission for National Poverty Reduction Strategy.
Bill 89 in Ontario, if adopted, will give the rights of children priority in child welfare and children’s services in the province. It will provide a good example of taking children’s rights seriously in legislation that affects them. It refers to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the preamble, extends services to 16 and 17 year-olds, and puts the best interests of the child at the centre of decision-making. Advocates have suggested amendments to strengthen child rights language throughout the bill. Read commentary by two board members in our most recent newsletter.