February 23, 2017
In the heat of the 2015 federal election campaign, the Trudeau Liberals promised to appoint a much-needed advocate for children. But like many of their promises, it remains on the backburner.
It shouldn’t. A children’s commissioner could help ensure that government policies improve the lives of young people and advocate for new legislation and programs to protect and help them.
You don’t have to look far to see why Canada needs a children’s advocate.
First, while Canada is a wealthy nation, according to UNICEF our children are falling behind those in other affluent countries in four key areas: income, health, education and life satisfaction.
Second, in 1989 the House of Commons voted unanimously to end child poverty by the year 2000. But in its latest report, Campaign 2000, which measures child poverty annually, found it had actually gone up to 18.3 per cent in 2016 from the level of 15.8 per cent it was at back in 1989.
Third, Canada does not have a national child care program, something that could reduce inequalities that result from poverty, decrease the number of children in special education classes by identifying problems and intervening earlier, and help women get back into the work force so they can better provide for their children.
Fourth, the Liberal government has yet to act on its promise to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code, which protects parents who spank their children, a move that would bring Canada in line with its responsibilities under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.