Kids gather in Ottawa to develop Canadian Children's Charter
Published Monday, November 20, 2017 9:13PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 20, 2017 9:16PM EST
Dozens of youth gathered in Ottawa on Monday to mark National Child Day and to develop Canada’s first “Children’s Charter,” which will be unveiled in Parliament on Wednesday.
Sara Austin, who runs the advocacy group Children First Canada, says the charter is needed to draw attention to the fact that children’s rights are not being adequately protected.
“Millions of kids in our country are growing up in poverty, experiencing abuse and neglect, and facing serious threats to their health,” Austin said in a written statement.
“We need to have a common vision for what every kid in our country deserves, and a plan of action to achieve it,” she added.
Delegate Callum Lovelace, a 14-year-old from Hammonds Plains, N.S., said that issues like cyber-bullying, racial discrimination and mental health are on the agenda.
Children First Canada’s 2016 report The Kids Are Not Alright identified a number of problems, including mental health, child abuse, inadequate day care and a lack of after-school programs.
Indigenous children are particularly disadvantaged in Canada, with 40 per cent living in poverty compared to 20 per cent overall, according to the report.
Canada also ranks lower than expected on child well-being among 29 rich countries studied by UNICEF. While Canada was the fifth richest country per capita, it ranked 17th on child well-being.
That ranking puts it behind poorer countries, including Slovenia, Portugal and Czech Republic. The Netherlands, Norway and Iceland came out on top, with Germany in sixth place.
Thanks @JustinTrudeau @CanadianPM for supporting the National Summit for the #ChildrensCharter - a call to action to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of children! #NationalChildDay #childrenfirstCA #cdnpoli #childrights #kidstakeover #WorldChildrensDay @children1stca https://t.co/eHoIE6WV3L— Sara L. Austin (@austinsaral) November 20, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Monday recognizing National Child Day and the Ottawa summit where the Children’s Charter is being developed.
“The toughest issues of our time – fighting climate change, making gender equality a reality, building a fairer, more inclusive world – have no easy solutions,” his statement reads.
“These challenges demand a global response, shaped across borders, involving every generation,” he added. “Ultimately, success depends on our youngest leaders and their ability to lead – which starts with a safe and happy childhood.”
Trudeau says that the Government of Canada is fighting child poverty with the Canada Child Benefit, making investments in child care and spending money to improve mental health services and access to post-secondary education.
“Sophie and I invite all Canadians to join us in celebrating National Child Day,” he said, according to the statement. “Together, we must make sure children everywhere get the love, safety, and support they need to live a full childhood and pursue their dreams.”