The Power of Perspectives

The Canadian Bar Association

Kim Covert

Past time to create a National Commissioner for Children and Youth

June 22 2018 22 June 2018

 

Canada is a great country, full of promise for this and future generations. What it lacks is an office to ensure that promise is kept, despite international treaty obligations that confer on it the responsibility to create one.

When Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, among other things it accepted the obligation to establish the office of a National Commissioner for Children and Youth. Six years ago, in its Concluding Observations on Canada’s Third and Fourth Reports on the CRC, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child once again urged Canada to establish such an office.

And now, as Canada prepares to submit its Fifth and Sixth Reports later this year, “it is time to move swiftly and definitively in response to the UN Committee’s recommendations,” CBA President Kerry Simmons, Q.C., writes in a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is also the Minister of Youth.

“Three private members’ bills tabled in Parliament calling for the creation of such an office were sponsored by members of the Liberal party,” she noted. “It is only fitting that the commitment made by your party while in opposition be implemented now that you form government.”

The government should also take the opportunity to engage with Indigenous peoples to ensure the rights and interests of Indigenous children and youth are vigorously promoted and protected, she said.

“Federal areas of jurisdiction such as immigration, refugees and citizenship, youth criminal justice, the funding of on-reserve services, divorce law, taxation and federal social benefits are key issues for children that could be effectively addressed by a National Commissioner for Children and Youth,” she wrote. “The impact of that office would be strengthened through consultation and engagement with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities.”

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