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Bill C-69 and Children’s Right to a Healthy Environment

Bill C-69 is an opportunity for Canada to show that it takes the rights of children seriously by including assessment of impacts for children in the new environmental review process. The Convention on the Rights of the Child includes the right to a healthy environment, as well as requiring states to give the best interests of children high priority in all areas of law.  Canada also received related recommendations in the last review of how it implements children’s rights.

The CCRC provides analysis and recommendations for amending Bill C-69 to better protect the rights of children to a healthy environment.

 

Youth Policy for Canada

The CCRC welcomes the development of a national youth policy and supports the initiative to consider the views of young people in its development.  This is one step toward realizing the rights of young people.  In a letter to the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Youth, the CCRC recommends two strategic directions:

  •  Use the principles of the Convention as a framework for Canada’s first youth policy, including consideration of the views of young people, respect for the right of young people to develop their full potential, and respect for the evolving capacity of young people.  Using the Convention as a framework will help to integrate all policies that affect young people and take an important step toward fuller implementation of the Convention across Canada.  The letter cites the experience of CCRC members to show that young people want to learn about their rights and how to exercise them in Canada, and highlights that the Convention addresses important issues identified in a survey of young people done by Statistics Canada.
  • Complement the new youth policy with a national policy framework for children under age 15, which is now a major gap in Canada.  Incorporating the Convention into Canadian law and policy-making would help to bridge gaps and integrate policies by all levels of government that affect children and young people.

The CCRC letter also points out that the new youth policy is an opportunity for Canada to respond to recommendations Canada received during its last review of children’s rights.

Family Law Reform and Children’s Rights

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.

Housing and Children’s Rights

There are two signs of substantive progress in the National Housing Strategy, released on November 22, 2017.  First is the strong focus on housing for vulnerable groups, including low-income families with children, a specific focus on children affected by family violence, and indigenous housing.  Details and dollar amounts are pending, but the direction of the strategy responds positively to the housing component of children’s Article 24 right to “the highest attainable standard of health,” Article 27 right to an adequate standard of living for a child’s full development, and Article 19 right to be free from all forms of violence, which includes support for children who have been affected by family violence.

More importantly, the national strategy will recognize the right to housing and include important components of a rights-based approach to housing in Canada.  Many of these components are similar to what the CCRC advocates for implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  They include legislation rather than short-term programs that can be easily changed, outcome targets and monitoring mechanisms based on outcomes for people, co-operation between levels of government measured by outcomes as well as dollar amounts, and an advocate to help ensure that the voices of those directly affected continue to influence how the strategy unfolds.

This is a paradigm shift in the direction that the CCRC has advocated.  It reflects growing acceptance of rights-based approaches to policy formation.  The CCRC has advocated for a similar approach to the poverty reduction strategy, which is still pending.

National Child Day 2017: Children’s Rights Can Make Canada Work Better

Members of the Coalition will celebrate National Child Day with children across the country on November 20, 2017.  We also celebrate the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is the reason for this day.

This year the CCRC is drawing attention to the potential benefits of the Convention on the Rights of the Child for Canada.  In a public statement, the CCRC highlights that implementation of the Convention would help to prevent children from falling through gaps in piecemeal policies and programs and improve Canada’s middle or low ranking on international assessments of child well-being.  Statement in French.

Canada must file its next report on implementation in July 2018.  The CCRC calls on all governments to respond to the many recommendations in the last review. After the last review the CCRC identified 10 Steps Canada could take.  On the 25th Anniversary of Ratification, the CCRC released an overview of implementation.   Recently a Discussion Paper on Education and Children’s Rights reports on progress to inform children about their rights, a basic step for effective implementation.  The CCRC invites young people and organizations who work with young people to use this process for their own reflection on the realization of children’s rights in Canada and what can be done to improve it.   On-going information for the review will be posted here.