Committee on the rights of the child

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Convention on the

Rights of the Child



12 March 2003
Original: ENGLISH and FRENCH


Second periodic reports of States parties due in 1999
[3 May 2001]

* For the initial report submitted by the Government of Canada, see CRC/C/11/Add.3, for its consideration by the Committee, see documents CRC/C/SR.214 217 and CRC/C/15/Add.37.
** This document has been submitted as received without formal editing.

GE.03-40644 (E) 030403
Paragraphs Page
Introduction 1 - 6 3

OF CANADA 7 - 591 4

OF THE PROVINCES 592 - 1487 105
BRITISH COLUMBIA 592 - 693 105
ALBERTA 694 - 822 120
SASKATCHEWAN 823 - 894 138
MANITOBA 895 - 942 150
ONTARIO 943 - 1025 159
QUÉBEC 1026 - 1153 172
NEW BRUNSWICK 1154 - 1294 196
NOVA SCOTIA 1295 - 1369 224
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND 1370 - 1400 236
NEWFOUNDLAND 1401 - 1487 242

OF THE TERRITORIES 1488 - 1640 260
YUKON 1488 - 1550 260


  1. Canada ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on December 13, 1991. This document constitutes the second report submitted by Canada under the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The document covers, in the main, the period of January 1993 to December 1997. Occasional exceptions to the review period do occur and are identified.

  1. Canada is a federal state comprised of ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec and Saskatchewan) and two territories1 (Northwest Territories and Yukon). While the ratification of international treaties is the prerogative of the Government of Canada, implementation of the treaties requires the active participation of the governments which have jurisdiction over the subject matters covered. In Canada, the responsibility for areas covered by 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.

  1. The present report contains information on measures adopted by the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments within the stated period.

  1. 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.

  1. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for human rights, and their officials, maintain ongoing liaison and information exchanges with respect to the implementation of international human rights instruments, including the Convention, through a mechanism known as the (federal-provincial-territorial) Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights.

  1. 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.

A. Implementation by States - Article 4

  1. The Convention on the Rights of the Child plays an important role in the development and implementation of children’s rights in Canada. From 1993 to 1997, the Government of Canada introduced numerous measures to enhance the well-being of children. During this time, the Convention influenced Government of Canada policy strategies, action plans, and initiatives. It affected judicial decisions concerning the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, relevant legislation and the common law. The Convention has been specifically considered in legislative developments in the areas of child prostitution, child sex tourism, criminal harassment and female genital mutilation, as well as in the ongoing renewal of youth justice.

  1. In the early and mid-1990s, Canada’s public finances were threatened by budget deficits and a high national debt. This situation represented a risk to social programs and the quality of life of Canadians. The Government of Canada has undertaken measures to restore Canada’s fiscal security by reviewing public expenditures and establishing targets for the reduction of budget deficits. Through the efforts of all Canadians, the Government of Canada has achieved its deficit reduction targets, and is now able to consider and implement re-investments of public expenditures in areas of concern for Canadians. In this way, the decisions made by the government after 1997 follow the policies pursued during the 1993 to 1997 period.

  1. Despite the difficult fiscal situation described above, the 1993 to 1997 period witnessed the development of a number of important initiatives on the part of the Government of Canada designed to assist children and families. It is expected that these initiatives as a whole, including recent measures taken by the government to consolidate Canada’s strong economic performance, will contribute to a sustained and improved quality of life for Canadian children and families. The present report provides a description of measures undertaken by the Government of Canada as well as a portrait of the progress made by Canadian children from 1993 to 1997. Many important initiatives relevant to children in Canada were adopted after 1997 and are not therefore the focus of this report.

Measures in Force

  1. Several departments and agencies within the federal government share responsibility for measures related to children and youth. In 1995-96, federal spending on children was approximately $9.8 billion. Of this, $8.1 billion supported direct programming and services for children and $1.6 billion was for indirect activities. In addition to this $9.8 billion, a significant portion of the $29.6 billion of federal transfers to provincial and territorial governments in 1995 96 provided income support, health services and a range of social services to children and families.

  1. The importance of collaboration, consultation and developing new ways of working together to achieve an integrated approach to child and youth issues is recognized by federal, provincial and territorial governments. At their meeting in June 1996, Canada’s first ministers identified investment in children as a national priority. In January 1997, the National Children’s Agenda (NCA), a federal-provincial-territorial and multi-sectoral initiative, was launched to develop a shared vision and common goals to enhance the well-being of Canada’s children. In addition to input from governments, the NCA plans to involve a broad spectrum of Canadians through consultation with key stakeholders and representatives of the public.

  1. As part of the NCA initiative, the 1997 federal budget announced the Government of Canada’s contribution to the National Child Benefit (NCB) system. The NCB is aimed at improving the well-being of Canadian children living at risk as a result of economic insecurity or poverty. The NCB also aims to address the so-called “welfare wall” problem, where the structure of benefits are such that families on social assistance were often better off than families in which parents worked in low-paying jobs, thus making it difficult for parents to join or stay in the workforce. The objectives of the NCB are to help prevent and reduce child poverty, to help parents of low-income families participate in the workforce, and to reduce overlap and duplication through closer harmonization of programs and simplified administration. The Government of Canada’s contribution to the NCB is delivered through a special supplement to the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CTB). Established in January 1993, the CTB is a broad-based federal government initiative to assist families with children. The program provides monthly tax-free benefits to low- and middle-income families on behalf of each dependent child under 18 years of age.

  1. The first phase of the NCB was implemented in July 1998. In July 1999, the special supplement to the CTB (also referred to as the NCB supplement) was again increased. After the increases scheduled for July 2000, federal government investment in the CTB will have risen by approximately 40 percent relative to 1996. These enrichments will result in increased benefits for 1.4 million low-income families. A low-income family with two children will receive up to 48 per cent more assistance in 2000 than in 1996.

  2. In 1997, the Prime Minister of Canada created the position of Secretary of State for Children and Youth. The Secretary of State works with Federal Ministers such as the Minister of Human Resources Development and the Minister of Health, on issues affecting the well-being of children and youth. The current Secretary of State has identified fetal alcohol syndrome, youth unemployment and youth homelessness for priority attention.

  1. Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments work together to support the health and well-being of children. In 1996, a Federal-Provincial-Territorial Council of Ministers on Social Policy Renewal was established to coordinate the renewal of Canada’s social programs with support from the Health, Education, Social Services and Justice sectors. On February 4, 1999, the Social Union Framework Agreement was signed by all first ministers, with the exception of the Premier of Quebec. The Agreement provides a collaborative framework to strengthen Canada’s health and social programs to better meet the needs of Canadians. Among

its agreements, it includes commitments to work in partnership to remove social policy barriers to mobility within Canada, to strengthen accountability to Canadians, and to promote enhanced consultation, cooperation and information sharing between governments, especially in relation to major changes to a social policy or program likely to affect other governments.

  1. Supported by research that demonstrates the importance of health and social investments during the early years of life, the Government has introduced and enhanced a number of innovative initiatives to help Canadian children develop to their full potential. Federal programs such as the Community Action Program for Children (CAPC) , the Aboriginal Head Start Program (AHS) and the Canadian Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) recognize the importance of early childhood development, parental involvement and education, cross-sectoral approaches for children’s well-being, and partnerships with other governments, non-governmental agencies and communities.

  1. In May 1997, Bill C-27 amended the Criminal Code to allow for the Canadian prosecution of persons who engage in child sex tourism and to facilitate the apprehension and prosecution of persons who seek out the services of juveniles in Canada. The bill also included provision for a mandatory minimum sentence of five years imprisonment for any person living on the avails of prostitution in relation to a person under the age of 18 and who uses violence against the person under that age and assists that person in carrying on prostitution-related activities for profit.

  1. The Government of Canada has also taken measures to benefit children and young people of separated parents. The Federal Child Support Guidelines, introduced in 1997, make child support orders fairer, more predictable and consistent.

  1. Investing in children and youth is a priority of the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention. The strategy supports communities in the development of innovative, sustainable ways to prevent crime and victimization and build a safer society, including the provision of necessary supports and resources for children and families.

  1. In 1995, Health Canada created the Childhood and Youth Division as a federal centre for expertise, leadership and coordination for issues, activities and programs concerning children and youth. Replacing the department’s Children’s Bureau, the Division delivers programs, supports policy development and undertakes strategic analysis of future trends. The Division also helps to provide policy development and coordination related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  1. From 1993-1997, the Government of Canada adopted measures to enhance the well being of Aboriginal peoples, including Aboriginal children. The Inherent Right Policy (1995) recognizes the right of Aboriginal peoples to govern themselves in key areas of responsibility. In response to the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP), Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan (January 1998) seeks to renew partnerships, strengthen Aboriginal governance, develop a new fiscal relationship between Aboriginal governments and institutions, and support communities, people and economies.

  1. Measures announced as part of Gathering Strength include a Statement of Reconciliation by Canada, formally acknowledging and regretting historic injustices; community healing to address the effects of physical and sexual abuse in the residential schools system; an Aboriginal languages program; an on-reserve Aboriginal Head Start program; resources to increase the number of adequate housing units on reserve; and additional resources to address the inadequacies of water and sewer facilities on reserve. Other initiatives are described under the appropriate themes of this report.

  1. The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), initiated in 1994, is a research program of Human Resources Development Canada and Statistics Canada that will track the health and well-being of a large sample of Canadian children over the long-term. It will provide the government with a better understanding of the factors that contribute to positive child development and will be used by governments to develop and evaluate a wide range of policies and programs targeted at children and youth.

  2. In 1993, the federal government established Canada’s SchoolNet, a collaborative effort to connect all Canadian public schools and public libraries to the Internet by March 31, 1999. This goal was achieved, making Canada the first nation in the world to connect all its schools and libraries. The project brings together provincial and territorial governments, universities and colleges, education associations, the information technology industry and other private sector representatives. Canada’s SchoolNet enhances the access of Canadian children to information promoting their well-being and development.

International Cooperation

  1. The rights of children are a priority within Canada’s foreign policy. Canada has been a leader in promoting the rights of children throughout the world and in ensuring their protection from exploitation and abuse. Canada has effected change by creating and sustaining constructive bilateral relationships with other countries and through cooperative efforts with international agencies such as UNICEF.

  1. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) plays a key role in ensuring Canada meets its commitments to promote the rights and improve the lives of children in developing countries and countries in transition. Advocacy for girls’ and boys’ rights, meeting basic human needs including those in the areas of health, nutrition and education, helping to protect children from abuse and exploitation, and promoting children’s participation in decisions affecting their lives are all integral parts of CIDA’s mandate for children.

  1. In 1996-97, CIDA supported 156 projects with a direct or indirect impact on children in the areas of child and maternal health, immunization, basic education, micro nutrient deficiencies, institutional- and capacity-building in favour of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and improved protection for children. Much of CIDA’s humanitarian assistance and food aid benefits children, and CIDA provides core funding to multilateral organizations such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization. CIDA’s Partnership Branch supports the work of many partners in non-governmental organizations who are working in the area of children’s rights. Many additional projects for children are also supported through the Canada Funds for Local Initiatives, Gender Funds and other country-specific funds.

  2. Canada’s long involvement in peacekeeping missions, where it has seen first-hand the lasting and devastating effects of land mines on many civilians and children, led to the decision to spearhead the diplomatic campaign to negotiate an international ban on the weapons. In December 1997, Canada hosted the formal signing of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, commonly known as the Ottawa Convention. The Government of Canada has committed resources over the next 5 years to support the removal of the millions of mines in the ground and to provide assistance to victims and nations coping with their devastating effects.

  1. In 1995, Canada played a leading role at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in securing many of the major achievements for women. Canada worked toward the adoption of a strong Platform For Action (PFA). The girl child was made one of the critical areas of concern in the PFA in recognition that “discrimination and neglect in childhood can initiate a lifelong downward spiral of deprivation and exclusion from the mainstream”.

  1. In 1996, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs appointed a Special Advisor on Children’s Rights, Senator Landon Pearson, with a mandate to provide advice on children’s issues, and liaise with non-governmental organizations, the academic community, the private sector and the public. The Special Advisor also participates actively in national and international initiatives on children’s rights and promotes awareness of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  1. Since the 1980’s, Canada has been a strong supporter of international immunization, efforts to contribute to universal immunization and, in particular, the eradication of polio and the elimination of measles. From 1993 to 1997, Canada has provided approximately $14 million per year in financial support for international immunization efforts.

  1. Since 1994, Canada has supported the Girl Child Education in Africa Initiative in sub Saharan Africa. Supported by CIDA, UNICEF offices and Canadian non-governmental organizations, 15 countries have undertaken projects that will promote basic education for girls. These projects emphasize gender sensitivity training for teachers, development of curricula that are gender sensitive, working with communities and families to promote the value of educating their girls, and increasing the capacity of the education ministries in participating countries.

  1. In April 1997, the Minister of Foreign Affairs announced the creation of the Child Labour Challenge Fund, aimed at engaging Canada’s private sector in contributing to international efforts to eliminate exploitative child labour.

  1. As a follow-up to the 1996 First World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm, Sweden, the Government of Canada supported Out From the Shadows - An International Summit of Sexually Exploited Youth, held in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1998. The conference was initiated by Senator Landon Pearson, Special Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Children’s Rights, and Ms. Cherry Kingsley, a child advocate and former victim of sexual exploitation.

  1. In developing countries and countries in transition, CIDA supports initiatives to increase the awareness of children’s rights, including national obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, strengthen legislative frameworks for the protection of children’s rights, and build the capacity of key institutions in the public and private sectors to promote children’s rights. CIDA supports initiatives to make the voices of boys and girls heard in policy making fora and advocates to include children and youth in development assistance projects.

Government and NGO Cooperation

  1. The interests and concerns of children were the focus of a national policy conference entitled Canada’s Children - Canada’s Future in November 1996. The conference’s final report, which was endorsed by conference delegates, included policy recommendations and a framework for action on economic policy, income support, social supports, health, education, child care, youth justice and Aboriginal children.

  1. With funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, UNICEF Canada developed a training course on the Convention for federal officials and a guide entitled The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child: A Practical Guide to its Use in Canadian Courts.

  1. With support from the Government of Canada and other partners, the Canadian Council on Social Development (CCSD) publishes The Progress of Canada’s Children, an annual report presenting a range of health, social and economic findings related to Canadian children and their families.

  1. During the reporting period, the Government of Canada worked in partnership with the voluntary sector on measures to support the effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Canada. For example, financial assistance was provided for the monitoring of the Convention’s implementation in Canada by the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children (CCRC), an organization representing more than 50 non-governmental organizations in Canada concerned with the rights of children. Measures to integrate the principles of the Convention in professional and administrative guidelines regarding services for children and youth were also developed. Examples include a training course on the Convention for federal officials developed in partnership with voluntary organizations and a guide for the effective use of the Convention in Canadian courts.

  1. From 1992 to 1996, the Partners for Children Fund encouraged innovative partnerships between Canadian and international non-governmental organizations, resulting in 21 international projects to promote the survival, protection and development of children. Key lessons that emerged from the completion of the Fund’s initiatives centred on models for youth participation, community involvement, public awareness and education, advocacy of children’s rights, and partnerships and linkages.

B. Dissemination of the Convention - Article 42

  1. The Human Rights Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage distributes, upon request and free of charge, copies of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Approximately 5,000 copies are distributed every year. The program also provides support to non-governmental organizations to increase awareness and knowledge of the content of the Convention and the rights it sets forth. From 1993 to 1997, many projects received funding from the Program. For instance, Human Rights Internet produced a directory of organizations involved in children and youth rights in Canada. The program also funded a youth edition of the Convention entitled Say It Right!, produced by the Youth Participation Committee of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children.

  1. In 1993, the Government of Canada named November 20th National Child Day, as a testament to the importance of children for both the present and the future of the country. The selection of the date was inspired by the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989. A Celebrate National Child Day Activity Guide is produced to mark the annual event, and is an important awareness building tool for use in schools and child care centres and by community groups and families across Canada.

C. Dissemination of Reports - Article 44

  1. Canada’s Second Report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child is published and distributed in both official languages. Copies are distributed by the Human Rights Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage to provincial and territorial authorities and human rights commissions, provincial child advocates, civil liberties associations, a wide variety of non governmental organizations concerned with children’s issues, public libraries and educational institutions, and to other regular subscribers of government publications. The Program will also distribute copies to the general public upon request. The Report is also included in the catalogue of Canadian government publications available free of charge to the public upon request. Non governmental and Aboriginal organizations are at liberty to reproduce and distribute copies of the Report or portions of it for their own educational purposes. The Report is available on the Internet at

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