UNICEF Canada

UNICEF Canada

September 14, 2007 10:30 ET

UNICEF Canada Calls for Children's Commissioner

The Time is Now to Ensure Children's Rights are Protected, UNICEF Canada says

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 14, 2007) - UNICEF Canada is calling upon the federal government to establish a national Children's Commissioner to ensure children's rights are better protected in Canada.

"It is critical that a national Children's Commissioner be established in Canada. In contrast to other industrialized countries, Canada is mediocre in terms of our children's well-being," said Lisa Wolff, Director of Advocacy and Education, UNICEF Canada.

"There are still too many children falling through gaps and living below international standards set almost a generation ago by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A Children's Commissioner will help ensure that there is a person or office in our federal government who is mandated to consider children's best interests," she said.

In Canada, about one in six children lives in poverty. One in three aboriginal children lives in inadequate housing and only one in five mentally ill children receives treatment. Statistics also show that 26 per cent of children are obese, and 39 per cent of young people have plans to take up low-skilled work.

UNICEF Canada is calling for a National Children's Commissioner to:

- Monitor the federal government's implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, conduct independent systemic investigations and make annual reports

- Speak on behalf of all Canadian children and youth, listening to them and making sure their voices are heard on the national issues that affect them

- Raise awareness of Canadians about children's rights

- Work with provincial child and youth advocates and encourage all levels of government and non-governmental organizations to advance children's rights

In June 2007, the Senate of Canada adopted the report, Children: The Silenced Citizens, with 24 recommendations to the federal government to improve children's well-being and bring Canada into compliance with international human rights obligations. Primary among the recommendations was the establishment of a federal Children's Commissioner.

UNICEF Canada urges the government to respond to the Senate's recommendations with resolve, including the commitment to establish an independent Children's Commissioner. The Government's response is expected this Fall, following the October return of Parliament and a new Throne Speech.

On November 20, National Child Day, the Convention on the Rights of the Child celebrates its 18th year since unanimous adoption by UN member states, marking the coming of age of a generation of children born with universal rights. A federal office for children will help ensure that the next generation grows up with their rights more evenly protected and provided for.

To support UNICEF Canada's call for a national Children's Commissioner, visit www.unicef.ca/18at18 and sign our on-line petition.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. In industrialized countries, UNICEF works to raise national awareness on children's rights and advocates for child friendly laws, policies and programmes. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

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