OTTAWA, Dec. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - The vice-president of the United Nations
Committee on the Rights of the Child today wraps up her four-day visit
to Canada which included stops in Ontario, New Brunswick and Québec.
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) invited Marta
Maurás of Chile to visit Canada to observe first-hand this country's
implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Maurás' visit closely follows the recommendations issued by the
Committee regarding the third and fourth periodic report of Canada's
implementation of the UN Convention, presented this past September in
As part of that review, the UN expressed concern over the lack of
improvement to Canada's child poverty rate, continuing Canadian health
issues such as unhealthy weights and child mental illness, and
inadequate monitoring mechanisms for tracking the well-being of
children. The review also found insufficient co-ordination between
various levels of government when it comes to serving Canadian
children, and unclear accounting of government spending on children.
Maurás has heard directly from many Canadian children and youth during
her visit. Among the stops on her tour were: a youth forum in Toronto;
a Talking Circle with youth hosted by Elsipogtog First Nation - New
Brunswick's largest Mi'kmaq community; a visit with youth at
residential rehabilitation units in Montreal; and a meeting at the
Canadian Human Rights Commission in Ottawa.
"According to the UNICEF scorecard for industrialized countries, Canada
stands 24th out of 35, with one in seven children - and one in four
First Nations children - living in poverty,'' Maurás said. "This is a
clear deterioration from 10 years ago. Issues of low-quality welfare
services - particularly for the many children placed out of their homes
for care - domestic violence, bullying and ill mental health affect
children, especially if they are Aboriginal or Afro-Canadian,
immigrants or suffer from some form of disability. Canada can afford to
do better. This is the challenge presented by the Concluding
Observations and Recommendations by the UN Committee."
CCCYA President Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said it was important for
Maurás to visit Canada first-hand, to meet with government and
non-government agencies and to hear directly the concerns of children
and the country's child and youth advocates.
In February 2012, the CCCYA presented its report on Aboriginal children
- Canada Must Do Better: Today and Tomorrow - to the UN Committee during Canada's pre-session in Geneva. The report
urged government to address the key systemic rights issue in Canada -
the health, education and safety of Aboriginal children and youth.
"Child advocates across Canada share a number of concerns, including the
over-representation of Aboriginal children in care and the quality of
services those children receive, child poverty rates, and the lack of
consistency when it comes to youth mental health treatment. We are
confident this visit will help further inform the UN on the status of
Canada's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,''
said Turpel-Lafond, B.C.'s Representative for Children and Youth.
Maurás said "important steps have been taken in recent years in Canada
to address, for example, sexual exploitation and pornography on the
Internet. But much more can be done in the short-term to improve the
situation of children, such as eliminating fees for early childhood
care and pre-school education, and passing legislation to ban corporal
She regretted that Bill C-420 to create a national Children's
Commissioner was not passed by Parliament as it represented "a good
step forward to ensure that an independent body monitors the
application of the Convention in a comprehensive way and that children
have a complaints mechanism to resort to if their rights are violated."
David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO, said "the visit of Ms.
Maurás is a timely reminder that the well-being and rights of the
children of this country must be given a higher priority. While the
primary obligation to implement the Committee's recommendations rests
with government, the responsibility to create a better life for all
children rests with each and every one of us in Canada."
The CCCYA is an alliance of 10 independent provincial and territorial
children's advocates, appointed by their legislatures. Although their
mandates differ according to legislation that establishes each office,
they share a common commitment to further the voice, rights and dignity
of children, especially vulnerable children.
SOURCE: Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates
For further information:
Office of the Representative for Children and Youth, British Columbia
Director, Communications (250) 216-4725
Please Note: Marta Maurás is available for media interviews between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. (ET) on Friday, Dec. 7. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond is available for media interviews between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. (ET) on Friday, Dec. 7. Please contact Jeff Rud at the above number to arrange an interview.
Media Relations Specialist
(416) 482-6552 ext 8892