UN Committee on the Rights of the Child- Canada's Reporting 1994

Canada's Reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child

Canada's 1st Report - 9th Session of the Committee

Government of Canada's First Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child


Government of Canada Report Submitted to the UN on June 17, 1994 / Soumis l'ONU le 17 juin 1994

Table of Contents


Measures adopted by the Government of Canada

Measures adopted by Provincial and Territorial Governments

Statistical Analysis



1. Canada ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on December 13, 1991. In Canada, responsibility for implementing the rights set forth in the Convention on the Rights of the Child is shared by the Government of Canada, the provincial governments and, following a delegation of authority by the Parliament of Canada, the territorial governments. Therefore, consultations were conducted with all jurisdictions before ratification took place. FurtherRead More ..all jurisdictions have participated in the preparation of the present report.

Organization of Report

2. The present report outlines measures adopted before December 31, 1992 by all governments in Canada to implement the Convention, and relevant case law (with occasional references to developments of special interest adopted since that time). Each jurisdiction has either prepared its own portion of the report or extensively reviewed the section which concerns it.

3. Information is also provided, where available, on such other matters as factors and difficulties encountered in implementing Convention rights and priorities and goals for the future regarding them, in accordance with the General Guidelines on Initial Reports of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. A separate annex provides the statistical information requested in the General Guidelines.

4. The report is organized in accordance with the General Guidelines on Initial Reports. Thus, articles are grouped under the following eight themes: general measures of implementation (articles 4, 42 and 44); definition of a child (article 1); general principles (articles 2, 3, 6, and 12); civil rights and freedoms (articles 7, 8, 13 to 17 and 37(a)); family environment and alternative care (articles 3, 12, 5, 18(1) and (2), 9, 10, 27(4), 20, 21, 11, 19 and 25); basic health and welfare (articles 6(2), 23, 24, 18(3), 26 and 27(1 to 3)); education, leisure and cultural activities (articles 28, 29 and 31); special protection measures, including children in situations of emergency (articles 22 and 38), children in conflict with the law (articles 37 and 40); children in exploitation (articles 32 to 36); recovery and reintegration (article 39); and children in minorities and indigenous children (article 30).

5. Throughout the report, references to Aboriginal children include children with Indian status under the Indian Act, non-status Indian children, and Métis and Inuit children. The phrase "Aboriginal children" is used rather than "indigenous children", because the Constitution of Canada refers to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.

Consultations with non-governmental and Aboriginal organizations

6. In 1993, the Government of Canada conducted consultations with the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children regarding the preparation of the federal portion of Canada's first report. The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children is an umbrella group consisting of more than 45 non-governmental organizations with domestic and international perspectives on children's issues, which has an ongoing interest in raising awareness of the Convention within its constituency.

7. The Government of Canada met with national Aboriginal organizations and a further consultation session was attended by the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women's Association of Canada, the Native Council of Canada and the Métis National Council.

8. The Government of Canada has, to the extent possible, made use of Aboriginal and non-governmental input in the "Factors, Difficulties and Progress" and "Priorities and Goals" portions of the report. FurtherRead More ..the submissions of Aboriginal and non-governmental organizations have been distributed to more than 40 federal governmental departments and agencies, for their consideration in future policy formulation.

A vision for the future

9. In September 1990, at the World Summit for Children held at the United Nations, 71 world leaders spoke of actions to better the lives of children in countries throughout the world.

10. Canada's active involvement in the World Summit for Children and the development of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child served as a catalyst for increased federal efforts on behalf of children in Canada and around the world.

11. In the past few years, children became Read More ..ominent in Canadian society in terms of issues being raised to meet their needs for protection, prosperity, equality and tolerance. The present report comes at a time when, even though the country's material and financial resources are becoming scarcer, the House of Commons has seen the passing of all-party resolutions to support the allocation of significant resources towards children.

12. The growing body of research on child development has also contributed to changing the focus of Canadian social policy for children from one of attempting to solve problems once they have disrupted a child's life to one of anticipating and preventing them through timely intervention.

13. In recent years Canada has taken a series of steps toward achieving a better tomorrow for Canada's children. The first step was taken in December 1991, with the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention provides us with a set of standards that confirms the respect that our society gives its youngest and most vulnerable members.

14. The second step, the Child Tax Benefit, was announced in the February 1992 budget and came into effect in January 1993. The Child Tax Benefit consolidates Family Allowances, the refundable Child Tax Credit and the non-refundable Dependent Child Tax Credit into a single monthly payment. It includes an additional amount for low-income working families, builds on existing federal programs for children and families, and complements the role of provincial and territorial governments and other organizations. The Child Tax Benefit represents an increase of $2.1 billion in federal government support for children and families over the next five years.

15. Third, Canada tabled its Action Plan for Children, entitled Brighter Futures, in May of 1992. Brighter Futures is a multi-departmental initiative that includes over 30 different steps and programs to address the well-being of children, particularly young children at risk and their families. Through it, the Government of Canada calls on all sectors -- families, other governments, non-governmental organizations, business, labour and others -- to join these efforts to meet the challenges that our children and families will face in the years to come. The Government of Canada also created the Children's Bureau to coordinate this very comprehensive program.

16. Finally, the Child Development Initiative was introduced in May 1992 as part of the follow-up to Brighter Futures. This initiative is a group of long-term programs designed to address conditions of risk during the earliest years in a child's life. The programs operate on four guiding principles: prevention, promotion, protection and partnership.

17. The Prevention Component of the Child Development Initiative is intended to obtain better information on causes of childhood illness, injury and death.

18. The Promotion Programs are designed to improve the health and well-being of children by providing information on the care and nurturing of children and by promoting the value of children and parenting to society as a whole.

19. The Protection Program complements existing federal initiatives to protect children from threats to their well-being. Examples of these initiatives include helping other governments develop Read More ..fective methods of ensuring that family support payments are upheld, expanding the Missing Children's Registry, and proposing amendments to the Criminal Code with respect to child pornography. Bill C-128, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and Customs Tariff (child pornography and corrupting morals) was proclaimed in force in August 1993. Bill C-128 protects children from pornography, sexual exploitation and harm.

20. The Partnership Program includes two major components. The Community Action Program funds programs and projects that benefit children in high-risk communities across Canada, and the First Nations and Inuit Communities Program focuses on community mental health and child development and the prevention of solvent abuse among Aboriginal children.

21. Canada values its children and is directing its efforts particularly towards alleviating conditions of risk, which one in five Canadian children now face, and which have particularly unfortunate results: poor school performance, low self-esteem, developmental disabilities, involvement with the criminal justice system and chronic unemployment.

22. By developing national child and youth health goals through discussion and consensus- building, many partners can create a common vision of what makes children and youth healthy. Child and youth health goals will help guide integrated program and policy planning and will focus public and professional awareness on child and youth health challenges.

23. The present Convention provides useful guidance to parents, non-governmental organizations and governments about the appropriate standards to ensure that Canadian children grow up in an environment conducive to the full and harmonious development of their personalities, and are fully prepared to live an individual life in a free and democratic society, as envisioned in the preamble to the present Convention.

General measures of implementation

24. At a federal-provincial-territorial Conference on Human Rights held in December 1975, the federal and provincial governments reached an agreement on procedures and mechanisms for implementing international human rights instruments to which Canada is a party, and set up a federal-provincial-territorial Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights. The Committee meets twice a year and studies particular questions concerning the implementation of human rights instruments. This body has proven to be an effective instrument of liaison and exchange among the federal, provincial and territorial governments on international human rights issues.

25. The Continuing Committee facilitates the preparation of reports to United Nations Committees on the implementation in Canada of its international human rights obligations. The Continuing Committee encourages research on human rights conventions that Canada has ratified, to assist in the understanding of its obligations under them.

26. As with other human rights instruments, the Continuing Committee will keep provincial and territorial governments apprised of any comments that the Committee on the Rights of the Child may make on the scope of the rights guaranteed by the present Convention.

U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child - Concluding Observations of Canada's 1st Report / Observations finales du Comité des droits de l'enfant

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Commentary about the hearing for the 1st report:
The quantity of materials used by the Government of Canada's representatives was so huge that they were not able to answer questions from members of the Committee.

Committee members asked specific questions of concern about gender bias against Canadian men and in particular, Canadian fathers.

Miss. Masson, a member of the Committee stated:

"From the documentation available, Canada appears to be a gender-biased society in favour of women. For example, non-custodial parents who refuse to pay child support were liable to be the subject of contempt of court proceedings and could be sent to prison. The non-custodial parent was, in fact, usually the father. However, a custodial parent not allowing access to children for a non-custodial parent was not sent to prison even if she or he was found guilty of contempt of court. How should the gender-bias charge be viewed in light of such a situation?" (CCR/C/SR.216 (26))

From that moment on, the Government of Canada representatives rudely evaded questions regarding gender bias against men in Canada. Finally, after being pressed several times for an answer, Ms. Barbara McKenzie, one of the representatives from the Justice Department of the Government of Canada, stated that the answers would be provided at a later date. (CRC/C/SR.216 (45))

Some days later, the Government of Canada representatives provided a written answer to the Committee. Their short evasive response was "There is no discrimination in Canada."

The deterioration of the family unit in Canada was another concern of the Committee members.