KARLA BERNARD: A statement on the 30th anniversary of Canada’s ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child

Thirty years ago today, Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This groundbreaking legal instrument is guided by four principles: non-discrimination, the best interests of the child, the right to life and development, and participation.

On this 30th anniversary, I encourage the government to reflect on how it can better implement the principles and provisions of the UNCRC and take meaningful action to improve the status of children and youth in our province.

I encourage the government to improve educational opportunities — both inside and outside government — to learn about children’s rights and to take a child’s rights-based approach to all government policy that might affect children and youth. This must include the adoption, use, and publication of Child Rights Impact Assessments (CRIA) when developing legislation and regulations. In fact, this is something I put forward in the House as a motion this fall. The House passed this motion and it is now up to the government to develop and share a CRIA tool to be used in all policy and legislative development within government.

In light of recent events, I also encourage the government to take action to ensure students’ access to safe and caring learning environments in Island schools. Furthermore, in light of the passage of the Poverty Elimination Strategy Act, I encourage the government to provide details of the action it is taking to achieve the legislated goals of eliminating childhood food insecurity by 2025 and eliminating child poverty by 2030.

Finally, I call on the government to improve its engagement and consultation with children, youth, and the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate. Together, they offer a wealth of lived experience and expertise that is invaluable to the government. Government must demonstrate a stronger commitment to soliciting and listening to their input and reflecting it in government policy.