Children before federalism

Today marked the end of Canada’s third and final session in Geneva in front of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Canadian delegates had a final opportunity to answer and clarify questions from the committee.

The committee posed questions on Canada’s education system, universal childcare, the over representation of Indigenous and minority children and youth living in foster care, the basic nutrition of children, youth incarceration, and the handling of Omar Khadr’s case to name a few. You can read the postings written by Cheryl Milne, Tara Collins, Adrienne Montani, and myself here.

A salient theme to the Canadian delegation’s responses to the committee heavily relied on Federalism.

In almost every response made there was a reference to how the “division of labour” between provinces and the federal government was the reason why they did not have answers, statistics, strategies to address the serious gaps in upholding the rights of children in Canada.

It’s clear that this division of labour needs clearer definition and accountability.

As signatories to the UNCRC, Canada committed to the ideals of the Convention, central to which are placing the needs of children at the centre of policy decisions and always considering the best interests of the child.

Children must come before federalism.

Explaining to a child that they are not getting a service, an ombudsman, adequate schooling, adequate housing, running water, or proper nutrition (to name a few), because the federal and provincial governments cannot coordinate to provide leadership to direct child centred programs could never be a satisfactory reason to Canadian children and their families. It certainly seems that it wasn’t a satisfactory explanation to the UN Committee on the Rights of Children in Geneva this morning.

Stay tuned to this site for further summary and analysis of the entire 3 sessions from Kathy Vandergrift and the other guest bloggers to this live blog.

Christina Thiele
Society for Children and Youth of BC
www.scyofbc.org | @scyofbc

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