Fulfil obligations to children in Canada

  • January 19, 2024

The President of the Canadian Bar Association, John Stefaniuk, K.C., reiterates the urgency for the government of Canada to fulfil its obligation to children in a letter to Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jenna Sudds.

The government of Canada needs to take concrete steps to implement the June 2022 Concluding Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child on Canada’s fifth and sixth reports.

“Canada played a key role in the negotiations that led to the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on November 20, 1989,” Stefaniuk writes. “It became the most widely and rapidly ratified core human rights treaty in history, with Canada ratifying in 1991.” Now Canada struggles to fulfil its reporting obligations under this treaty.

The Canadian Bar Association “again urges the Government of Canada to demonstrate its leadership role in the promotion of children’s rights by tabling a comprehensive Government Action Plan,” the letter explains. “The Concluding Observations of the UN Committee provide a detailed roadmap for a Plan. They were informed by government reports, and the evidence of experts from civil society organizations across Canada who work with children, including the CBA.”

At its February 2023 meeting the CBA urged the government to follow the roadmap outlined in the Concluding Observations. This has been reinforced by the CBA Branches in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick in correspondence to their Premiers and provincial Ministers.

“We remain committed to working with you to achieve this goal” of fulfilling the country’s obligations to children, Stefaniuk concludes.

The CBA is gratified to have received a response from Minister Sudds in December 2023 confirming the issue is a “big priority of ours and we’re doing all we can.”