Experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Commend Canada on the Truth and Reconciliation Hearing Commission for Indigenous Children, Ask Questions about Children in Court and “Jordan’s Principle”
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fifth and sixth periodic report of Canada, with Committee Experts commending Canada on the Truth and Reconciliation Hearing Commission for Indigenous Children and raising questions about children in court and “Jordan’s Principle” on support services for First Nations children.
A Committee Expert said that some of the answers from the delegation were particularly heart warning and encouraging, especially about the Truth and Reconciliation Hearing Commission for Indigenous Children.
Another Committee Expert asked why children needed to go to court to testify and be cross-examined? Why were judicial processes not included in children and youth advocacy centres? The Expert cited a letter received from a child victim of abuse describing her traumatic experience testifying in courts. There was no reason why video-taped testimonies could not be used instead of court testimonies for child victims.
Ann Marie Skelton, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Canada, said that Canada had filed a review of “Jordan’s Principle”, a principle used within legislation relating to the availability of support services for First Nations children. What were the findings of this review? How was the federal Government working to ensure that support services for children were available in all provinces?
Responding to questions, the delegation said that Canada had testimonial provisions within its Criminal Code that allowed for victims to provide testimonies outside of courts, and in the form of drawings. Child advocacy centres provided coordinated responses to child abuse cases. These centres reduced child trauma by minimising questions asked of victims. Separate facilities were provided for children within courts, and video testimony was the rule rather than the exception.
“Jordan’s Principle” was a request-based principle which provided funding to First Nations children residing in Canada. The Government of Canada was working with First Nations parties to conclude final settlement agreements as soon as possible. This included 20 billion dollars for children who had been removed from their homes by the Government. These agreements sought to establish a path forward for “Jordan’s Principle” renewal, so that no First Nations child faced a barrier to essential services again.
Introducing the report, Leslie Norton, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Canada had taken concrete actions to improve the lives of children and to further advance children’s rights. These measures included the creation of the Canada Child Benefit to provide support to low-income families; the establishment of an early learning and childcare framework across Canada; investments in education and other services for indigenous children; and measures to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was more work to be done to ensure that all children in Canada were able to enjoy their rights fully and equally. The State would keep working to improve the lives of all children in Canada.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Skelton said it had been an intense dialogue, with enormous terrain covered. The Committee had heard about legislation designed to protect the child, as well as practical examples. Ms. Skelton thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue.
Candice St. Aubin, Vice President, Public Health Agency of Canada, thanked the Committee members for their in-depth and thoughtful questions. During the dialogue, the delegation had made efforts to highlight the key changes which had taken place in Canada in the sphere of children’s rights. Ms. St. Aubin said that Canada viewed the Convention as an anchor for improving children’s rights across the country, at the federal, territorial, and provincial levels.
Mikiko Otani, Committee Chair, said the dialogue was challenging due to the time constraint of four hours. Ms. Otani thanked the delegation of Canada, and said she hoped the dialogue would assist the State in implementing the Convention across the country.
The delegation of Canada consisted of representatives from the Department of Justice; the Public Health Agency of Canada; Health Canada; Employment and Social Development; Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Global Affairs, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Indigenous Services; Public Safety; Statistics; Heritage; and the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The delegation also consisted of representatives from the Provinces and Territories of Canada, including from the Department of Justice; the Ministry of International Relations and La Francophonie; and the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the report of Canada at the end of its ninetieth session on 3 June. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public on Thursday, 19 May at 9 a.m. to conclude its consideration of the combined second to fourth periodic report of Kiribati (CRC/C/KIR/2-4) .
The Committee has before it the combined fifth to sixth periodic report of Canada (CRC/C/CAN/5-6).
Presentation of Report
LESLIE NORTON, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the delegation was pleased to discuss Canada’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Over the reporting period, Canada had taken concrete actions to improve the lives of children and to further advance children’s rights. These measures included the creation of the Canada Child Benefit to provide support to low-income families; the establishment of an early learning and childcare framework across Canada; investments in education and other services for indigenous children; and measures to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada was a federal State, where the power to implement children’s rights was constitutionally divided between federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Provincial and territorial governments were tasked with finding local solutions to local concerns, in collaboration with children and youth, civil society, and indigenous representatives.
There was more work to be done to ensure that all children in Canada were able to enjoy their rights fully and equally. Canada had consulted with stakeholders and rights holders in the weeks leading up to the dialogue and would continue to do so in the following weeks to address the Committee’s concluding observations. The State would keep working with these groups to improve the lives of all children in Canada.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked about progress that had been made regarding discussions related to Canada’s reservation to the Convention. Had Canada discussed the possibility of assenting to the Optional Protocols?
A law had been adopted outlining the rights of indigenous peoples. Canada had also made several commitments related to the implementation of the Convention. Could the delegation provide more information about the actions of the intergovernmental committee tasked with implementing the Convention, and the resources that it had been provided with?
The Expert stated that efforts had been made to increase data on children, but a system for collecting data on children had not been established. Were there plans to do this?
There was no federal-level ombudsperson, although there were ombudspersons at regional levels. Would the State party consider establishing a federal-level ombudsperson to address children’s rights? What was being done to ensure greater awareness raising on the rights of children?
A large proportion of children was living in poverty in Canada, and migrants and indigenous peoples were disproportionately affected by poverty. What was being done to end such inequality?
Canada had announced that it had established a business ombudsperson, but this ombudsperson seemed to focus on monitoring businesses overseas. Did this ombudsperson also monitor domestic business activities, particularly those concerning children?
ANN MARIE SKELTON, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Canada, expressed concern about high numbers of unregistered births, particularly in areas with a high number of indigenous people. Was this a historic or current problem? What was being done to increase birth registrations of indigenous persons? Was the service for indigenous people to reclaim their indigenous names being used? Were grandparents entitled to pass on their indigenous status to their grandchildren?
There was no specific legal framework for determining statelessness. Was there a plan to develop specific legislation defining statelessness?
Another Committee Expert said that Canadian legislation authorised the use of force to punish a child. The Expert called for this legislation to be repealed and for all forms of corporal punishment to be banned. What measures had the Government taken in this respect?
The Expert expressed concern that the child welfare system failed to protect women and children against violence. The Government had implemented a gender-based process for assessing legislation. Had this process been used to assess legislation on violence against children?
There was considerable variation in violence against children in different regions. Had the Government identified the groups of children most at risk, and strengthened its response against abuse of children? The Expert commended the expansion of children and youth advocacy centres. Why did children need to go to court to testify and be cross-examined? Why were judicial processes not included in these advocacy centres? The Expert cited a letter received from a child victim of abuse describing her traumatic experience testifying in courts. There was no reason why video-taped testimonies could not be used instead of court testimonies for child victims.
Canadian legislation allowed for medical and surgical treatment of intersex children. What was the State doing to protect intersex children from non-reversible surgery?
Canada had a dark history of institutionalisation. How did the Government promote alternative care, and ensure that all children were treated equally regarding alternative care? How were the best interests of the child determined in custody decisions? Children should not be placed outside of the family except as a last resort. How were monitoring mechanisms and mechanisms for complaint ensured?
How many children with incarcerated parents were living in Canada? How did the State ensure the rights of these children?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that the interdepartmental working group on child-related laws and policies promoted collaboration on and implementation of measures concerning children’s rights. This was a working group and did not have the authority to require departments to take specific actions. There had been calls from civil society to strengthen the working group’s mandate, and the Government took those calls seriously. It was working to strengthen its collaboration with civil society in this regard.
Canada shared the Committee’s concern regarding young people being held in adult facilities and had amended legislation to prohibit children from being held in adult detention centres. Children were only held in adult detention centres in pretrial detention in exceptional circumstances if no juvenile detention centres were accessible in the region, or if the child’s safety had been threatened in a juvenile detention centre.
Canada would continue to discuss its reservation to the Convention.
The issue of whether section 43 of the Criminal Code should be repealed was controversial. A 2004 Supreme Court ruling had stipulated that the law should only allow physical punishment that was not severe, and banned corporal punishment in schools.
Canada had testimonial provisions within its Criminal Code that allowed for victims to provide testimonies outside of courts, and in the form of drawings. Child advocacy centres provided coordinated responses to child abuse cases. These centres reduced child trauma by minimising questions asked of victims. Separate facilities were provided for children within courts, and video testimony was the rule rather than the exception.
The federal Government, as well as provincial and local Governments, had taken actions to implement the recommendations of the Committee. A forum of ministers on human rights had been formalised in 2020, and provincial Governments actively promoted and raised awareness about the Convention.
Governments were committed to protecting the rights of the child through laws, policies and other initiatives. Most territories had established independent children’s ombudspersons. These ombudspersons made recommendations to respective Governments. A member of the federal Government was tasked with reducing poverty and coordinating efforts of provincial and territorial Governments toward that aim. Governments at all levels were allocating significant resources to promote children’s rights. The poverty rate for children had decreased from 16 per cent to 4 per cent in recent years. The Government would continue to invest in further reducing child poverty.
Canada was investing in enhancing statistics on data collection, particularly on the health and wellbeing of children with disabilities and indigenous children. A census of children was being carried out. Data on online abuse of children was available. Canada had made progress on improving data standards, and research was ongoing to ensure data relevance.
Canada was not considering ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure at this time. Ratification required extensive consultations and financial resources, and Canada was currently considering ratification of other international conventions.
The business ombudsperson also monitored domestic business activities that affected children.
The Government of Quebec was working to protect children from cybercrime. There was legislation establishing the best interests of the child.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission had called for the creation of the National Reconciliation Council, which would implement the calls to action of the Commission. The Government of Canada had launched a national action plan for ending violence against indigenous women and girls. The plan focused on wellness, human safety and security. The Government was engaging with indigenous partners to establish an oversight body for monitoring these actions.
The Government was committed to working with communities to reform the First Nations’ funding mechanism to reduce discrimination and ensure that indigenous children had access to State services. Canada had tripled funding of support programmes for indigenous groups. Children’s needs and preferences were taken into account when determining the best interests of the child. Placements of children prioritised family and community.
The Government recognised that previous versions of the Indian Act discriminated against indigenous women’s registration. The Government was continuing to consult with indigenous groups to reform registration processes so that they could be carried out solely by indigenous communities.
The Government remained committed to supporting incarcerated parents, including through non-residential programmes for caring for children. If families were not able to visit in person, video visits were allowed. Mothers and children were kept together where appropriate, and special consideration was made for indigenous mothers. Mothers were allowed to have children with them at all times up to the age of five.
The Citizenship Act granted citizenship to children who were stateless and had resided in Canada for three years. Canada was committed to fighting statelessness. Individuals could apply for refugee protection if they had suffered persecution. Canada was supportive of the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ “I Belong” campaign, which aimed to end statelessness by 2024.
Canadian children could access information on human rights via an online platform. Regional human rights commissions published information on human rights, including the rights of children.
The Nova Scotia Government was preparing to collect race-based data to improve equity in health care. Providing data on race would be optional and would be used to improve policies promoting equity.
The federal Government had analysed risks posed to children with a view to improving legislation protecting children.
Parents could currently consent to corrective surgery for intersex children. However, the Government was considering introducing legislation to prevent children from undergoing irreversible corrective surgery without exception.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked how a Supreme Court ruling from 2004 had a bearing on legislation on corporal punishment. Why was the Government not willing to ban corporal punishment?
Had Canada considered introducing due process principles within children’s advocacy centres, so children could complete their participation in judicial proceedings as soon as possible and concentrate on healing?
ANN MARIE SKELTON, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Canada, said that Canada had filed a review of “Jordan’s Principle,” a principle used within legislation relating to the availability of support services for First Nations children. What were the findings of this review? How was the federal Government working to ensure that support services for children were available in all provinces?
Did COVID-19 have an impact on adolescents’ mental health, and what had been done in response to this?
She also commended the work done to ensure safe drinking water. What sustainable solutions had been implemented to ensure continued access to safe drinking water into the future?
What steps were being taken to consult with children regarding energy regulations? What was being done to support children’s access to justice?
Ms. Skelton stated that there were around 25 Canadian children in camps in northern Syria. What was being done to repatriate these children?
She also repeated her call for Canada to ratify the third Optional Protocol, arguing that ratifying this Protocol on a communication procedure should not be an expensive process.
Another Committee Expert said that many children were dependant on fundraising activities to pay school fees, and fees adversely affected children in lower socio-economic brackets. What policies were in place to support children to access secondary education?
The Expert recognised that Canada had done more than most States to promote reconciliation. Had all residential schools for indigenous persons now been abolished?
What was the State doing to encourage outdoor physical activity?
The Expert expressed concern about children in immigration centres, and called on Canada to stop detaining children with family members in these centres, and to stop releasing children from detention centres along with one parent only. The number of children in these immigration centres was increasing, and there were some cases where children that were detained were Canadian citizens with parents staying in the State irregularly.
Would Canada consider ratifying the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?
What protections were available for children to prevent exploitation in the labour market? What protections were being provided for homeless children? There were cases where homeless children were sexually exploited. What steps were in place to support the reintegration of incarcerated children into society?
Another Committee Expert said that persons with disabilities were less likely to attend university. What barriers existed to persons with disabilities obtaining higher education, and what was being done to address these? What efforts were being taken to address gaps in access to support services for children with disabilities? Could the delegation provide details of efforts to improve data on persons with disabilities in Canada?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that suicide rates in Canada had remained stable over the past two years and were three times higher among men than women. Although the rates had remained stable, they had increased among women aged 12 to 24. The efforts of the federal states were aimed at reducing stigmatisation and awareness raising. Efforts were being made to ensure access to support, and funds were being invested in the drug addiction and mental health centre, with the view to maintaining a service for the prevention of suicide. This service offered support to young people in the case of a crisis. The Government planned to provide subsidies to several health or distress centres which provided services to young people.
The mental health of young people 18 years and under had been impacted by the pandemic. Several measures had been taken to address these issues, including an action plan for mental health. Open space premises had been opened, and would act as a one stop shop, with nurses on hand to offer young people solutions. These were currently open in five cities, with the overall aim to open the Open Centres throughout the whole of Quebec. Quebec had also invested in providing more capacity for psychological support to address the shortage of psychologists.
Saskatchewan was committed to suicide prevention and had implemented the suicide prevention plan “Pillars for Life”. The mental health of children was recognised as a priority, and a social media campaign had been launched, with information on suicide prevention. Saskatchewan had signed a letter of commitment to work to address rates of suicide in indigenous communities.
The Criminal Code of Canada contained a number of provisions to protect witnesses under the age of 18. Funding provided by the Government for child advocate centres was used to hire support for children in criminal proceedings. Canada’s human rights framework provided strong protection against discrimination. Canada had adopted concrete measures to address non-discrimination and support substantive equality. Significant steps had been taken to protect transgender people from harassment and violence. Legislation had been adopted which banned any treatment designed to change a person’s sexual orientation to heterosexual.
Canada remained open to ratifying the third Optional Protocol on communications, the delegation said. This was an important mechanism for children as rights holders. Ratification in Canada was a process which involved consultations among many stakeholders.
The Government of Canada closed its embassy in Damascus in 2012 and had no diplomatic presence in Syria, making it difficult to obtain information on the ground. The Government was aware of reports that health conditions inside the camps were poor and was concerned about the conditions that children faced inside. However, given the lack of presence on the ground, the ability to provide assistance to Canadian children in Syria was limited.
Canada recognised the fundamental role of play in children’s development, the delegation said. Canada’s education system offered several opportunities for play, in the school day and in the framework of extracurricular activities. In response to COVID-19, British Columbia had established programmes to support young people’s mental health, including a new three-year investment. Inclusive schools provided an accessible learning environment for all children, including those with disabilities. Diversity and inclusion were at the heart of Canada’s identity, and more needed to be done to be aware of the history of all Canadians, including racialised Canadians.
Pre-trial detention in Canada was only used as a last resort. Amendments had been made to the act which prohibited young persons from being detained in custody. Provincial and territorial governments provided support to incarcerated youths, and those leaving incarceration. Young people were supervised by a group of home staff and taught culinary, budgeting and time management skills.
In 2019, Canada introduced a national housing strategy, recognising the right of every Canadian to adequate, safe and affordable housing. The national housing strategy had identified population groups which were most vulnerable, recognising that women with children were most proportionately affected by housing needs. More than 6 billion dollars had been committed to this strategy.
Canada’s homelessness strategy was a community-based programme aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness across the country. The national housing strategy target was to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent by 2027/2028. There were several different programmes at all levels of government to support the education of children with disabilities and remove barriers.
The delegation said that Canada had made progress on data for youth and children with disabilities. A survey had been conducted on the wellbeing of children, which would be repeated in 2023. Canada planned to provide annual information on labour activities of youth with disabilities. The 2023 children health and wellbeing survey would include information on COVID-19 and mental health. Canada was developing a pan-Canadian health strategy which was a collaboration between the federal governments and provinces, to harmonise data standards.
Legislation required continued evaluation on which countries were considered safe, when it came to immigration, and Canada was satisfied that the United States continued to be a safe third country. Canada had a generous healthcare system which provided a myriad of services free of charge to citizens and residents. Undocumented individuals were provided with access to emergency services free of charge, and non-emergency services were free for those who had been in the country longer than six months.
The present law ensured that children had rights regardless of their migration status, and ensured all children had access to public education.
“Jordan’s Principle” was a request-based principle which provided funding to First Nations children residing in Canada. Canada was implementing “Jordan’s Principle” to ensure that all First Nations children had access to products and services, which supported their needs. The Government of Canada was working with First Nations parties to conclude final settlement agreements as soon as possible. This included 20 billion dollars for children who had been removed from their homes by the Government. These agreements sought to establish a path forward for “Jordan’s Principle” renewal, so that no First Nations child faced a barrier to essential services again. There were 33 long-term drinking water advisories remaining in communities in Canada, with work underway to resolve these.
The Government recognised that improvements were needed to provide safe and affordable housing to indigenous communities. Inuit land claims were focused on addressing housing needs for children, and ensuring that needs were met in a cultural and responsible way. The delegation said that all Indian residential schools that had removed Indian children from their families and culture had been closed. Canada regretted this shameful part of its history and was committed to working towards restitution, including through healing programmes, to address the inter-generational impact of these schools.
Responding to questions on climate change, the delegation said that Canada believed that current generations must spare no effort in acting now to address the ramifications of climate change. Canada was committed to educating children and taking into account their perspective when it came to developing policies to combat climate change and the environment. The Government of Canada was on the point of launching the youth council on climate change, with a view to advising on the challenges and young people’s perspectives.
Canada’s immigration detention programme was carried out with safeguards and detainees’ rights were guaranteed. Canada was committed to limiting the use of detention, only in expectational cases, such as flight risk, or when the person was a danger to the public. The Canadian Red Cross independently monitored conditions of detention, to ensure alignment with domestic legislation. In 2019, new regulation amendments were introduced to enhance the best interests of the child in the refugee process. The Canadian Red Cross were notified if a minor was detained without parents, and it was then determined if a monitoring visit would be carried out.
The Government of Canada was committed to the protection of children from all forms of exploitation and abuse. Dealing with the victims of human trafficking was a shared responsibility among all levels of government. In 2021, the Government of Canada provided funds to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to bring new ideas as to how technology could combat human trafficking. This was also an opportunity to teach youth about their rights under the Convention.
Quebec had made combatting the sexual exploitation of children a government priority. An action plan was developed in 2021 entitled ‘Breaking Sexual Violence’. A national communication campaign had been carried out which was disseminated across various platforms, aiming to raise awareness among young people and their parents around the traps of sexual exploitation. To increase capacity in the analysis and interventions of the authorities, more resources had been deployed to the authorities.
The delegation said that Canada had not experienced a significant increase in HIV cases among young people, and this figure remained stable in the 15 to 19 age group. Reported rates of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis had increased in this same age group. A Committee was established to respond to the increasing syphilis rates in Canada. The COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the mental health of Canadians, particularly children and youth, and programmes were in place to support young people. The Canada suicide prevention service offered support available over the phone to anybody in Canada, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Questions by Committee Experts
ANN MARIE SKELTON, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Canada, asked if children could bring cases to court to challenge the constitutionally of laws? Would there be any barriers in their way to doing this? Ms. Skelton thanked the delegation for their refreshing response to the third Optional Protocol, saying the Committee would be looking forward to developments in this regard.
A Committee Expert said that some of the answers from the delegation were particularly heart warning and encouraging, especially about the truth reconciliation hearing commission for indigenous children. There was still concern about juveniles being put on trial and sentenced as adults. Juveniles should have access to juvenile justice both at the trial stage and the sentencing stage. Was solitary confinement for children still being used? Did Canada have a registry system in place for all children at the border? It was more than likely that refugees arriving from Ukraine would arrive in a traumatised state; was there any way to guarantee their rights and provide specialised care?
A Committee Expert said it was not entirely clear how the national housing strategy addressed the needs of families with disabilities. Could the delegation elaborate on this?
One Committee Expert asked how the populations without drinking water were managing? How were basic commodities being supplied? The Expert noted that indigenous children were placed in re-adaptation centres, which was problematic as only English were spoken in these centres. What measures were taken to respect the principles for preserving the culture of indigenous children in these centres? Was a follow up mechanism activated when a child was placed in a foster family? The Expert noted that there had been instances of sexual aggression in sports schools, asking what was being done to prevent these situations from arising in the first place?
Another Committee Expert asked what happened when young persons in irregular situations had health care needs before their first six months in Canada were up? Was there a system in place? How were those children informed of their rights to access healthcare? Was there a national institution for monitoring places where children were deprived of their liberty?
A Committee Expert said that the ombudsperson only focused on international investigations, asking what was in place to uphold and reflect responsible business conduct? Was the implementation of different strategies, including the fight against poverty and access to housing, coordinated? Was Canada engaging in a reflection programme regarding corporal punishment?
Responses by the Delegation
Canada had a federal framework for suicide prevention, which complimented the important work across Canada within indigenous communities, looking across the entire country within a whole and overarching frame.
Canada had taken measures to promote positive parenting. Many provinces and territories had legislation which provided for the appointment of legal counsel for children, the delegation said.
Adult sentences could be imposed on youth, in the rarest and most exceptional cases of serial offending. Provincial and territorial governments were working to limit segregation time for youth. In 2017, in British Columbia, youth custody regulations were amended, and solitary confinement was banned.
In every community where there were drinking supply issues, bottled water was provided, and a swift response was provided. Cultural continuity was an important consideration when it came to children in care.
Canada was considering accession to the third Optional Protocol, and federal and territorial governments continued to engage in consultations. Significant progress had been made, and Canada continued to undertake the process seriously.
Concerning the situation of secondary schools, the delegation said they could not comment on cases which were currently before the courts.
When children were taken into care, both the child and the parents received designated social workers and services throughout their time in foster care, to ensure that social, health and educational needs were being met.
The Government of Canada was concerned about substance-use related harms. A new Ministerial position had been created as a response to this. The Government continued to take action to help people who used substances through public education, prevention, and treatment measures. While youth were not the most impacted demographic group, the approach aimed to ensure that everyone could access the support they needed. A fund was established which provided training to healthcare providers, and funded initiatives which raised awareness about the health effects of substances. An interactive campaign was launched in 2017, which aimed to inform secondary students about opioids.
Responding to questions on healthcare for refugees in Canada, the delegation said that Canada provided full access to health care, including mental health support, for all refugees arriving in Canada, including those from Ukraine. An extensive network of settlement organizations was funded to provide services to refugees who arrived in Canada. Any undocumented individual who had been in Canada under six months could go to any treatment room and receive medical assistance there, with treatment provided in a confidential manner.
The best interest of the child was always taken into consideration in cases of evictions. All attempts were made to address rental arrears before considering an eviction. Regarding the National Housing Strategy, the delegation said that the strategy prioritised programmes which included disability access. Canada took a whole of government approach to address poverty, and related social challenges, and ensure an approach which was consistent with human rights principles and focused on prevention. This was in line with the United Nations goal of ending poverty.
The poverty rate had been cut in half for Canadian children, and there were multiple dimensions at play. Some family types were more vulnerable to poverty, as were persons with disabilities.
Canada took a federal approach to implementing the Convention, which involved cooperation from various mechanisms.
ANN MARIE SKELTON, Committee Expert and Coordinator of the Country Taskforce for Canada, said it had been an intense dialogue, with enormous terrain covered. The Committee had heard about legislation designed to protect the child, as well as practical examples. It was understood that much had been done, however, there was still work to be done. Ms. Skelton thanked the delegation for the constructive dialogue.
CANDICE ST. AUBIN, Vice President, Public Health Agency of Canada, thanked the Committee members for their in-depth and thoughtful questions. During the dialogue, the delegation had made efforts to highlight the key changes which had taken place in Canada in the sphere of children’s rights. Ms. St. Aubin said that Canada’s constitutional divisions of power offered a unique opportunity for the implementation of the Convention. While not without challenges, it encouraged all governments to work together to uphold children’s rights. Canada intended to keep working to improve existing strategies and develop new ones, to respond to every child’s needs. Canada viewed the Convention as an anchor for improving children’s rights across the country, at the federal, territorial, and provincial levels.
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chair, said the dialogue was challenging due to the time constraint of four hours. Ms. Otani thanked the delegation of Canada, and said she hoped the dialogue would assist the State in implementing the Convention across the country. She concluded by extending her best wishes to the children of Canada.
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