Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 24 - Evidence - March 25, 2013
OTTAWA, Monday, March 25, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 4:01 p.m.
to monitor issues relating to human rights and, inter alia, to review the
machinery of government dealing with Canada's international and national
human rights obligations.
Senator Mobina S. B. Jaffer (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights has been
actively engaged in studying and monitoring issues affecting children and
their rights over the course of the past decade, producing the following
reports: Who's in charge here? Effective Implementation of Canada's
International Obligations with Respect to the Rights of Children,
Children: The Silenced Citizens. Effective Implementation of Canada's
International Obligations with Respect to the Rights of Children, The
Sexual Exploitation of Children in Canada: the Need for National Action,
and Cyberbullying Hurts: Respect for Rights in the Digital Age.
Today's meeting is to obtain an update on and examine the progress made
in implementing Canada's children's rights and obligations since these
reports were tabled. In particular, we are looking at the implementation of
the convention and the two optional protocols, namely the Optional Protocol
on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Optional Protocol on
the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
We will also follow up on important events for those who are very
interested in issues affecting Canadian children. In September 2012,
representatives of the Government of Canada appeared before the United
Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child as part of its study of
Canada's record on children rights.
Today we are interested in finding out more about the preparations, the
procedure and the survival mechanism in place in anticipation of this
review, as well as some of the major issues affecting Canadian children that
emerged from this review.
As part of its review, Canada submitted reports outlining the various
programs, laws and other government initiatives in place for children, as
well as a list of responses to various questions raised by the UN committee
to learn more about Canada's efforts. Many civil society groups also made
their own submissions concerning Canada's implementation record. These
reports and all documents pertaining to the review are available on the UN
committee's web page on the sixty-first session.
In its concluding observations, the UN Committee recommends, among other
things, that Canada adopt a national strategy to develop an overall
implementation framework in order to comply with the broad lines of the
convention. This strategy should be accompanied by a coordination and
follow-up mechanism to allow the provinces and territories to adopt their
The committee also recommends setting up a comprehensive national data
collection system to facilitate the development of policies and programs
that would strengthen the convention's implementation.
The committee recommends adopting different strategies to reduce all
forms of violence against children, reduce child poverty and overcome the
distinctive challenges that are faced by many Aboriginal and Afro-Canadian
children in their communities.
Today, the committee will be hearing from representatives from within key
departments of government and also from non-governmental organizations. It
is really important for us here in the committee to find out how far we
have come and what we have to do. We have asked the first witnesses to
appear and to set the stage for us so that we can continue with our work on
this issue of children's rights. As you know, the committee has been
involved for many years in this matter.
It is with great pleasure that I welcome the first panel, David Morley
from UNICEF Canada, and from the Landon Pearson Resource Centre for the
Study of Childhood and Children's Rights, I welcome the Honourable Landon
Pearson, Chair, and Virginia Caputo, Director. At this point, I would like
to recognize that Senator Pearson was with us for many years and the
tremendous work that she did while she was a senator and continues to do on
children's rights. She certainly was instrumental in this committee starting
the work that we are now continuing. You have left a great legacy. We will
never be able to do what you did while you were a senator on children's
rights, but we are trying to follow your footsteps. It is a pleasure to
welcome you again, Senator Pearson. We also have, from the Canadian
Coalition for the Rights of Children, Cheryl Milne, Chair, and Katherine
Vandergrift who is no newcomer to this committee and certainly makes sure
that the committee continues to work on children's rights. I welcome all of
you and look forward to hearing from you.
We will start with you, Mr. Morley.
David Morley, President and CEO, UNICEF Canada: Thank you very
much, senator, and good afternoon to all of you. It is a pleasure to be here
today on behalf of UNICEF Canada and UNICEF to present on this important
issue. You have received our written submission and, in the time allotted to
me, I just want to highlight some key points from the submission.
Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments are making many
laudable investments in policies, programs and services for children.
However, if the review of Canada's implementation of the Convention on the
Rights of the Child was an opportunity to set these out for public view, it
also revealed that our implementation and reporting processes could be
improved, in some cases by making relatively simple and feasible changes.
At UNICEF Canada, we believe that the way ahead must include
child-sensitive governance processes, and these have to be built into the
adult-oriented decision-making mechanisms of governments. Three of these we
want to highlight are the following.
The first is for a national commissioner for children and young people.
UNICEF Canada recommends that the Parliament of Canada establish and
appoint, through an impartial selection process, an independent national
commissioner for children and young people to support federal departments
and parliamentarians in developing and analyzing policies for their
potential impact on children, to monitor the well-being of Canada's
children, to help guide investments in our rising generations, to promote
equitable public policies that affect children and to help coordinate
federal, provincial and territorial action where necessary, including a
particular focus on Aboriginal, immigrant and other vulnerable children.
Differences in the protection and provision of children's rights between
provincial and territorial jurisdictions and between Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal children suggest that Canada's children do not have equitable
opportunities to develop to their full potential. Children and young people
need a dedicated champion at the federal level to amplify their voices and
put their interests higher on the public agenda.
Second, we recommend that Justice Canada and the Public Health Agency of
Canada develop a standard approach for child rights impact assessment on
legislative and policy proposals that could have significant impacts on
children. Child rights impact assessments are a growing good practice used
by governments around the industrialized world. The government of New
Brunswick has led the way in Canada by developing a pragmatic and principled
approach to child rights impact assessments. We encourage policy developers
and influencers to join in a symposium that will be held this May at the
University of Ottawa — here is more information about it, and it will be on
May 14 and 15 — to learn more about this promising practice to ensure that
decision-makers consider children and avoid the consequences of unintended
costs and impacts.
A third child-sensitive governance mechanism is to establish coordinating
bodies in government for child policy, programs and services. Children's
conditions and rights cannot be isolated in one particular department. They
cut across many departments. Some provinces have recognized this, and put in
place coordinating bodies such as P.E.I.'s children's commissioner, and
Manitoba's Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet. Every jurisdiction should establish such a
body with sufficient influence within and across departments to effect the
changes to better coordinate and make coherent child policy. As well, we
need a more effective federal-provincial-territorial working group on child
policy that meets at the level of deputy or assistant deputy ministers
regularly to share and advance good practice and promote a more coordinated
One of the advantages of a federal country like ours is that we can
identify good practices in different jurisdictions in different parts of the
country. We need to take advantage of our federal structure, rather than use
it as a reason not to act.
In terms of the process of reporting on Canada's implementation of the
convention, UNICEF Canada believes that there is more that can be done on
the part of the government to listen to Canadians and to demonstrate a
willingness to take a few visible steps forward. We have reviewed the record
of every other industrialized nation to have had a review before the
committee in the past five years and have found in every case that some bold
— if selective — steps to demonstrate responsiveness and progress for
children have been taken. Last year, for instance, Australia decided to
establish a national children's commissioner, following on its review by the
In conclusion, I want to thank you once again for making the time and for
your leadership to put children on the agenda. We have seen many government
officials and parliamentarians taking principled steps within their
capacities to use this process for the benefit of children, and we are not
diminished by accepting that there is more work for us to do — rather, we
are strengthened by it.
Hon. Landon Pearson (former senator), Chair, Landon Pearson Resource
Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children's Rights: Thank you very
much for calling me here as a witness. I am delighted to be back. You can
imagine that I feel quite nostalgic in this room, where I spent hundreds of
hours as a long-standing member of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal
and Constitutional Affairs, and as the chair of the committee on the
commercial sexual exploitation of children that I convened at the request of
then foreign minister Axworthy following a ground-breaking congress on the
topic in Stockholm in 1996 and finally as deputy chair with my colleague
here of this very committee as we prepared Who's in Charge Here?, the
interim report preceding Children: the Silenced Citizens.
As many of you know, after I retired from the Senate, I took my passion
for childhood and children's rights along with all my papers and documents
that I had accumulated along the way up to Carleton to establish a research
and resource centre there to further my work. Now is the moment to introduce
my academic colleague and the director of the centre, Virginia Caputo, and
her children, Melinda and Alexander. Melinda has been working with me as a
volunteer, and we have developed an annotated list of child rights websites
that I can connect to my own landonpearson.ca. I was forced, after I
retired, to move into the digital world. I did not learn to use the computer
until I was 75. I am doing fine just now.
The activities of the centre are various, but all are aimed at raising
awareness of the convention in the hearts and minds of young people, in the
hope that they will be able to instruct their elders in the ways in which
they should promote the rights of children and young people in Canada and
around the world.
In 2007, my centre was commissioned by the UNICEF in Florence to study
Canada's implementation of the general measures that are set out in the
convention to advance children's rights and our report, which was issued in
2007, on the same day that Canada submitted its combined third and fourth
reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Our report is entitled
Not There Yet. What else do I need to say? When given the concluding
observations from the committee after Canada presented its update in 2012
that you have in front of you, it is clear that we still have a little way
to go — a long way, probably.
I would now like to share my reflections on three distinct aspects of the
relationship between a state party to the convention and the Committee on
the Rights of the Child. Other witnesses have already and will continue to
testify about specific issues and recommendations related to the rights and
well-being of children in Canada.
I would like to talk about process, and I have three messages to deliver.
First, I would like to stress the real value of the process a country
engages in when it ratifies an international human rights treaty. I think
Mr. Morley has just highlighted one by saying how countries have changed as
a result of this process. This applies to the reporting process in general
but more specifically to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. For
those who care about the rights and well-being of the children, the
obligations of reporting our progress on a regular basis to the
international community, as embodied in the Committee on the Rights of the
Child, is an invaluable opportunity. Most committee members have been chosen
by the countries from which they come for their expertise related to
childhood, child development, health, education and legal matters, among
others. They are well prepared to question country delegations because they
have listened to a number of civil society organizations prior to the
session who provide them with reality checks. These are people who know the
convention inside out and who have heard many other countries present, so
they are able to make comparisons. As a result, country delegations can only
benefit from being challenged, as we all can, when outside observers reflect
us back to ourselves.
The committee is not a tribunal but an essential link in a positive
feedback mechanism that should help all of us improve our practice.
My second message relates to the process itself. In my capacity as
adviser on children's rights to the minister of foreign affairs at the time,
I was asked to lead the Canadian delegation to Geneva in 2002 to present our
second periodic report. We had done our homework quite well. During the
regular interdepartmental meetings in preparation, I urged my colleagues to
be less defensive. We had and continue to have many programs that we can be
proud of, but we must be ready to accept that we often fall short and be
eager for the suggestions as to how to improve.
The full implementation of the convention is a duty that we accepted when
we ratified, and I can still remember the flourish with which then Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney signed the instrument of ratification in the great
hall of Parliament on December 13, 1991, in the presence of children and
youth from every province and territory that I and my colleagues in the
Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children had brought together as
witnesses. That was also the same day that the House of Commons unanimously
passed the resolution to abolish child poverty by the year 2000.
I told you why I think the process of preparing and presenting country
reports is useful. Let me suggest how it should be managed for maximum
Needless to say, I watched Canada's latest appearance in front of the
committee on the webcast with considerable interest. I could easily conjure
up the conversations in the corridors during the breaks, remembering what
they had been like a decade earlier.
Without casting aspersions on any of the Canadian officials, who
certainly did their best, there were some real differences from the time
before. One was the level of representation. Given the struggle the
committee in Geneva has understanding our federal structure and which level
of government is responsible for what, as far as young people are concerned,
I was able to persuade the Honourable Iris Evans, who was then the
Conservative minister for children's services in Alberta, to join our
delegation. We also had excellent representation from Quebec and from
Newfoundland and Labrador.
I admit our second report was excessively long and cumbersome, but
procedures have since been streamlined. I believe the bundled third and
fourth report are a little more concise. However, the length of time the
requested update took to reach committee members caused real concern and
undercut their capacity to be constructive. It also raised some question as
to whether or not the Government of Canada took its responsibility to
children and young people as seriously as could be expected from a country
as advanced as ours.
My third message relates to the importance of including children and
young people in the process, as required by Article 12 of the convention.
Prior to our second report, the government funded the Canadian Coalition on
the Rights of Children to do extensive consultation with civil society and
youth, which was very useful. In my view, collaboration of that sort is
essential to have the best results for kids, and it just keeps reminding
everyone involved what the whole proposal process is really about.
To the best of my knowledge, no young people were consulted in
preparation of Canada's third and fourth reports. Somewhat to my dismay, the
committee itself scarcely raised the issue. It is no excuse to say it is
difficult to involve them. When I and some of my colleagues organized the
North American consultation for the UN Study on Violence against Children,
with the assistance of UNICEF Canada, we had no trouble bringing young
people to the table and hearing what they had to say. When I organized
Canada's response to the special session on children that we launched in
2004 and called A Canada Fit for Children, all of our regional consultations
had a minimum of 30 per cent of young people present and I had an adviser
group of young people who called themselves the child engagement experts
resource team, who worked with me all along the way.
Why does it matter? It goes back to the reason why children's rights
matter and once we ratify a convention like the Convention on the Rights of
the Child, we, all of us, government, Parliament, public sector and civil
society, have the duty to act together to ensure that it is implemented. We
can talk about recommendations later, but those are my comments to begin
The Chair: Thank you, Senator Pearson. We will go to the Canadian
Coalition for the Rights of Children.
Katherine Vandergrift, Past Chair and Head of Delegation for 3rd/4th
Review of Canada at UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Canadian
Coalition for the Rights of Children: I will begin because I led the
coalition's delegation to Geneva and the preparation of the report, and
through that process. Cheryl Milne will speak to our forward-looking agenda.
She is the incoming chair of the coalition. I was the chair during the
process; she is the chair now.
The Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children appreciates the ongoing
and consistent attention that this committee gives to the rights of
children, from your consideration of general measures to very specific
issues, such as your recent excellent report on cyberbullying. Thank you.
I would like to start with the central message that the CCRC brought into
the third/fourth review of children's rights, both across Canada in
preparation for the review and at the UN. It is the central message in our
comprehensive report, entitled Right in Principle, Right in Practice:
Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Canada.
The central message is this: Canada cannot afford to let so many children
fall through the cracks of fragmented and inadequate support systems, even
though the majority do quite well. In an aging society, like we are,
developing the full potential of every child should be a top priority. The
concluding observations and our report are evidence of many gaps that
require attention by all governments. I would just note that the analysis in
this report was subjected to critical review by officials, by academic
experts, and by the UN committee, and it has held up very well. The UN
committee members told us it gave them the best picture of what is happening
to children in Canada.
Because of its critical importance for our country's future, the
coalition has asked the Prime Minister to publicly present the government's
plan to respond to the UN committee's recommendations within a year, by National Child
Day 2013. Your committee could also ask for such a plan. It would be a
logical next step to your past reports. I think a copy of our letter was
provided to your clerk, so you may have that.
I would like to focus on four areas that need attention, based on our
experience of the third and fourth review. Ms. Milne will provide some next
Number one is the need for systematic mechanisms to pay attention to the
best interests of children in public policy decision-making.
Compare the high level of focused attention on seniors with the lack of
concerted focus on children. Children are affected by policy choices as much
as seniors and have much less power to influence decisions.
Other witnesses have spoken about the need for a child rights impact
assessment, a children's commissioner, and youth participation. We agree
with all those. You will hear from officials later that these are not
necessary because now there is an Interdepartmental Working Group on
Children's Rights, which was put in place as a result of this committee's
The working group does share information and does some training, but it
has little influence in decision-making. To be effective, it needs to be at
a more senior level, with a clear mandate and adequate authority to actually
impact policy decisions. Your committee could build on your own past reports
by asking about its record of concrete impact for children in the country
and then recommending ways to make it more effective.
In 2002, at the second review, lack of progress was blamed on Canada's
federal system of government. We heard time and again, we cannot do it
because of the provinces. The UN committee and our coalition have said that
that is not an acceptable excuse. This time, federalism was said to be an
asset because it allows diverse responses to children, but the government delegation
could not provide basic information to answer questions about children
across the country. There was no basis for an assessment that it is working
Asked about child care, as one example, the government held up Quebec's
program to show Canada is fulfilling the convention. There was no analysis
of access to child care in other provinces, although the committee specifically asked
for a comparative analysis.
When we discuss child care in Canada, we are told there are no plans to
expand a Quebec-like system across the country. One answer is given in
Geneva and a different answer in Canada. Our children deserve better than
More important, the government delegation could not answer questions
about vulnerable groups and equitable treatment of children in Canada. This
review confirms that current intergovernmental mechanisms need substantive
reform, as your committee has recommended before.
The Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights, which is the
federal-provincial body, has been the subject of review by your committee,
but it remains the primary mechanism to advance children's rights across
governments. It is a totally inadequate mechanism. You will hear about
improved consultation. I can tell you what it is. It is two-hour meetings in
which all human rights groups are asked to tell officials which issues will
be raised in upcoming reviews. There is no response from officials, no
report of the meeting and no follow-up.
You will hear that input on implementation of the concluding observations can now be
submitted electronically. That is true, but there is no report on what is
submitted, no report on what actions are taken, or why no action is taken.
If coordination works as well as the government says it does, I just ask the question, why
could Canada not provide the data the committee asked for? To me, the lack
proves coordination is not working.
There is no effective public accountability for children's rights in
Canada, point-blank. This will be raised again in Canada's second Universal
Periodic Review in April. A copy of our submission was given to your clerk.
We recommend that your committee consider encouraging the government to
bring forward a genuine proposal for reform this time.
I would echo what Ms. Pearson said. We do not need to be defensive. We
can recognize we have problems, but then come forward with proposals for
addressing those problems. I think that is what young people would like to
Second is data and analysis on the situation of children in Canada.
The government could not answer basic questions about children in Canada,
such as accurate data about the number of children in state care across the
country, a pretty basic fact, or complete data about indigenous children and
the services they receive, which is an area of direct federal government
Once again, government reports were long lists of specific initiatives
with very little analysis of the impacts for children, and even less
analysis of the actual situation of children in Canada. There have been
promises for improving data for more than five years with almost no
progress. The coalition is now recommending a multi-stakeholder group to
address this problem.
Third is the need for consistent and comprehensive approaches to policies
that affect children. You will hear about tougher penalties for child sexual
exploitation, tax breaks to purchase hockey equipment, small anti-bullying
initiatives, all as evidence of support for children and implementing
children's rights. These may be good in themselves, but developing the
potential of all our children requires a much more consistent and
Another example: The money allocated for a national injury prevention
strategy in the 2011 budget was diverted to respond to concerns about
concussions in hockey. Violence in hockey is a significant issue, but this
could have been a strategy to prevent all forms of violence against
children, which we still need badly in this country.
One value of the convention is its integrated framework for policies that
affect children. Canada needs a consistent and comprehensive approach to
reach the goal of developing the full potential of every child.
Fourth would be the equitable treatment and a focus on vulnerable groups.
The concluding observations make a number of recommendations about equitable
treatment and focused attention on vulnerable groups who are being left
behind in our country.
We estimated numbers because we could not get accurate data, but
approximately 120,000 children are in child welfare, in the criminal justice
system, and in other forms of care by the state. If this number were involved in a health
issue, we would consider it a crisis; however, we are not doing very much
about it. The number is higher than other comparable countries.
The federal government is really the only government that can take steps
to ensure equitable treatment across the country. It is responsible for
Aboriginal affairs and immigration, two areas where there are major
The review, for example, was a good opportunity to put evidence on the
table to show whether indigenous children are being treated equitably or
not. Some data was presented to the UN committee, but there were big gaps.
Perhaps this committee can finally get the information in response to the
recommendations in the concluding observations.
As well as the numbers, there is an important principle at stake in the
current focus on the Aboriginal child welfare. Lawyers for the federal
government are defending the notion that the treatment of children under
federal programs cannot be compared with the treatment under provincial
programs. This is a direct violation of the convention, something this
committee should pursue.
Before the UN committee, the government delegation stated that Canada is
committed to full implementation of the convention. However, in Canada,
lawyers for the government are directed to argue against convention
principles in the appeal for equitable treatment of indigenous children.
If we take a positive approach, which I would like to do, children's
rights are an asset to federalism precisely because they provide a
foundation to ensure equitable — not the same but equitable — treatment
across the country, and that is a core Canadian value.
The children in Canada will be well served if this committee would pursue
these four areas to achieve the goal of developing the full potential of
every child in our country. Thank you.
Cheryl Milne, Chair, Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children:
Thank you for giving us this opportunity to address the committee on
behalf of the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. I will focus on
future steps to respond to and implement the recommendations contained in
the concluding observations.
We have given you two documents. One was mentioned already, which was the
letter to the Prime Minister requesting a formal response and strategy
within one year; and the second one is our 10 steps document, which
highlights priorities, such as the children's commissioner and improved data
collection, as well as policy measures that the coalition believes are
achievable without major effort or delay. We would argue these are the
low-hanging fruit in terms of some of the recommendations in the 10 steps.
This document is a starting point and applies to all levels of government
as well as civil society. We acknowledge that we all owe a duty to Canada's
children. It is not just the federal or provincial governments but civil
society. We are here on behalf of civil society and are doing the best we
can, but we need more coordinated efforts.
A key point the coalition wishes to make is that the measures
recommended, including the better data collection, are not aimed at
producing a better report five years from now. The efforts to better
implement and record progress in respect of the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child are owed to Canada's children, particularly the most vulnerable
who are falling through the cracks, as you have heard.
Accurate data and analysis are needed to assess whether public funds and
community efforts are achieving the results for children, but the point is
not about a better report; the point is about better efforts to help
children in Canada.
National strategies, for example, to prevent all forms of violence
against children are required to maximize the impact of smaller, local or
piecemeal prevention programs that were brought before the committee as
evidence of Canada's compliance.
As we have already noted, the equitable treatment for all children must
be named as a top national priority with transparency and accountability.
This is for all minority groups within Canada and those children who are
falling through the cracks.
Canada's children need federal leadership through a commissioner and
facilitation of interprovincial and federal information sharing, dialogue
and development of model policies and legislation that better implement the
rights that all children are entitled to, and these are contained in
Recommendations 13 and 15 of the concluding observations.
Federal leadership can be clearly demonstrated in measures to improve the
conditions of all First Nations children and Aboriginal children across the
country, and also in terms of children who are caught up within the
immigration system and children seeking asylum. This is an area of federal
policy that the federal government can demonstrate real leadership in terms
of assessing the impact on children's rights of guidelines and policies that
are being put in place now as we speak.
Another example is the area of Bill C-10 which received some criticism
from the committee. The Canadian delegation presented that there were some
measures within Bill C-10 that were compliant with the convention but others
demonstrated serious backtracking.
The review noted that the recent changes in Bill C-10 did not comply with
Canada's obligation under the convention. In this regard, Canada reported on
those two aspects of recent compliance but failed to acknowledge that there
was significant backtracking as well. Requests were made through access to
information to seek confirmation that the government had conducted
compliance reviews of Bill C-10. However, despite the government's assertion
that reviews were done, the response to the information request was that no
such files existed. We would ask where the evidence is of any such
compliance review being conducted, and we would suggest that your committee
ask for that kind of evidence.
Similarly have such reviews taken place with respect to recent policy and
legislative changes in respect of immigration and refugee proceedings and
services. These are critical areas that are affecting children today, post
The responses to our letter to the Prime Minister, which was also sent to
the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Health, suggest that there will
be no formal coordinated response nor anything remotely like a national
strategy any time soon, if ever, and that is one area that we have
highlighted in our 10 steps.
There are other more specific recommendations in terms of specific
policies that we think can be both implemented at the provincial and federal
level, and we ask that you look at our 10 steps document in determining the
questions you may be asking subsequent to our presentation here but also in
any final report that you do. Thank you very much.
Senator Hubley: Thank you for being with us today and for the
informative presentations, and I would like to welcome back the Honourable
Landon Pearson. I knew her then and I am glad to know her now.
My question I think was touched on by Mr. Morley. UNICEF Canada, the OECD
and a number of non- governmental organizations have released reports in
recent years expressing concern over the high levels of poverty for children
in Canada, particularly for those living in Aboriginal communities, and the
effect that living in poverty has on children.
The question I would like to move to is about the role education will
play as a child's right to an education. Where is that on the priority list?
Can we look to education as a fact that may mitigate those poverty levels?
We do know there are inequities within the funding to Aboriginal students
now on reserve. Is there something we can do about that?
Mr. Morley: I am sure we could all go on for a long time about it.
Certainly, we believe at UNICEF and I believe personally that education is
an important mitigation against poverty, and there are a number of ways we
can be working to ensure there is greater equity of educational
opportunities for children. We are seeing issues that are before the Federal
Court about child welfare and education services.
We believe that one of the important things that can come from having a
national children's commissioner is that there is somebody who can focus on
that, who can emphasize that this is an important issue, that it is a
federal issue — although education is considered to be provincial —
something that the federal government could be doing more on to make a
Ms. Vandergrift: Thank you. Those are very good questions.
I would point you to some of the work done by the Auditor General in
terms of the equitable funding issues. As far as we know, there has not been
a substantive response to that. We certainly argue that the child rights
review is the time to come forward with that data. If there are questions as
to whether there is equity or not, that is what a child rights review is
about. We did not see that data. The UN committee asked for that data, and
they did not get it. I think the Auditor General's assessment, in a way,
stands, showing that there is inequitable funding, and it is of concern to us that
there does not appear to be money in the current budget to address that.
I would like to make another point about poverty. The government's report
to the Universal Periodic Review, which was just submitted, says that child
poverty has reduced somewhat, which is good news, but even if it is 9 per
cent instead of a higher number, it is still far too high.
I would quote from a social pediatrician who works with us. Given what we
know now about brain science and how this affects children's long-term
development, he said 10 per cent of children growing up in unhealthy
circumstances is a silent crisis in our country. Because the results do not
show up right away, we do not treat it the same way we do H1N1 or that kind
of thing. With what we know about the impact on these children's
development, it is a crisis to have 8, 9 or 10 per cent of children growing
up in what we know in many of these families is deep poverty. I think this
demands more attention than we are giving it.
Ms. Pearson: One thing I have been doing at my centre at Carleton
is to bring together young people to talk about various aspects of the
convention. We had one session on child rights and education. They had some
strong things to say. They all reiterated the importance of education in
their lives, and these are kids from a whole variety of backgrounds, from
child welfare to Aboriginal children.
The other thing they said, I think in the context of our discussion
today, is that none of them had ever been educated about their rights. I
wanted to put that out there. I think pressure needs to be placed — in this
case, I am probably appealing to provinces — for further emphasis on
education, in schools or so on, with respect to the convention and
children's rights. They all know about the Charter, but when I ask them in
classes — Ms. Caputo has had the same experience — you will not get more
than four or five in the class who even know about the convention. We have
been failing Article 42 of the convention badly.
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you. Welcome to all the panelists here.
I will not cover a lot of areas, as the witnesses have put their opinions on
Senator Landon Pearson and I have had many — she said hours and hours,
but it was years and years — conversations about many of these issues. One
of the things I have been reflecting on is that some of the tools we use to
help children and to move the children's agenda may be in themselves
outdated. We were talking about physically bringing children together into
Nowadays, I find that four-year-olds are teaching me how to get together,
but not physically. It is by using IT resources. When you say we should
involve children more, I would like to see some of you start addressing the
children of today, not the children of yesterday. Do you want to comment on
Ms. Pearson: I totally agree, and I am quite excited by the
evolution of the child help line, which came in before this advance in
electronic media. They find that the kids are now using more interactive
media, and rather than using a telephone, which is anonymous, they would
prefer to go online. Absolutely. We are trying to build our network
electronically in order to get input from kids. It is the way to go. I
Ms. Vandergrift: I will share with you that many of our members
are doing that as well. With the review, we tried to make the information
about web broadcast available to school groups in cooperation with UNICEF,
and then we had bloggers who also commented on the review so we could put it into
more youth-friendly language, as the UN processes are not necessarily
youth-friendly. We did have students listen in. I think that is a good
example. Certainly we would like to do a lot more of that. We are also
talking about a youth-friendly edition of the concluding observations.
Mr. Morley: I think there is much to learn from other countries,
often poorer countries. I have had experience in Colombia where you have
large distances, civil society cannot afford to bring children together, and
sometimes it is dangerous because of the conflict. However, we have seen
remarkable collaborations using online ways to bring remote villages
together and children sharing their concerns, which can then be presented to
the authorities. It is something that we do not only have to look to the
wealthy countries for; sometimes the poorer countries can lead us.
Senator Andreychuk: When the Human Rights Commission turned into
the Human Rights Council, there was a lot of discussion that there should be
new ways to try to reach the citizen participation. With no reflection from
those that are here, the committee continues to hear from governments and
from organized communities. That dialogue is now becoming even more finessed
but is not really attracting the people at grassroots. When I was there, the
knock was, "you are only talking to national organizations; you are not
really talking to the people on the ground."
Therefore, the dialogue is not about how we obtain and implement
policies; we are continuing to talk about what policies we believe are
effective. I say that because national strategies are easy to put in place,
much like national laws. We should increasingly look at what is being
On the international scene, it now seems everyone wants a national
strategy on absolutely everything, and we are getting it. It is unbelievable
how many national strategies there are.
My concern is how much is really being implemented and whether we are
really following that as well as continuing to press for implementation.
Senator Harb: Thank you very much, witnesses. From what I can see,
you all seem to agree that Canada is not in compliance with the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child. Would that be a fair comment?
Ms. Pearson: That is too black and white. We comply a great deal,
but we have slipped from full compliance.
Senator Harb: With respect to the provincial level, and
specifically what Senator Pearson was talking about, education in Canada,
the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as anyone under
the age of 18. In a provincial jurisdiction, in some cases kids who turn 16
can decide that they do not want to go to school any more. The police and
the family cannot do anything about it. They drop out of school and fall
into a cycle of poverty, because they have no jobs.
If the provinces were all to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child and say that anyone under the age of 18 is a child, a child
could not drop out of school before the age of 18. Thus, the police, the
family or society can tell the child that, as they are still a child, they
cannot drop out of school. In that way we might be able to deal with the
issue that Ms. Vandergrift was talking about, that being an opportunity for
the child to find a job.
To what extent have provincial governments across the land agreed that a
child should be defined as anyone under the age of 18?
Ms. Milne: As a lawyer for children for many years, I know that we
have very piecemeal policies across the country in terms of age for
children. Some of that is consistent with the convention, because although
the convention says that every child is under 18, it also speaks to the
capacities of children. Rights and abilities to make decisions and
choose things for oneself have to relate to individual capacity as
children mature. Some of those age differences do make sense in terms of
However, federal laws need to be consistent, and they are not in terms of
every child being someone under 18. Some provinces, including Ontario, have
increased the age for mandatory attendance at school to 18.
A coordinating body and a better mechanism for provincial-federal
cooperation can help set those kinds of model policies and model pieces of
legislation and get everyone on the same page talking about the same thing
with the evidence of how this is affecting children. Whether the condition
of children has been improved by raising the age to 18 is a question that
needs to be studied to see whether that policy works.
Leadership is needed in terms of a central message that we honour the
convention as to the children being defined as everyone under the age of 18,
but we have to remember the developmental stages of children, especially as
they reach adolescence, and ensure that the laws make sense in that regard.
Again, leadership and consistency is required at each level of government.
Mr. Morley: As Ms. Milne said, you have to provide age appropriate
education. You can have a strategy, but that is not sufficient. There are
reasons why many 16- and 17-year-old adolescents choose to leave school.
Saying that they have to be in school until age 18 is not sufficient unless
you have the proper strategies to allow those youngsters to want to stay
there and keep learning.
Senator Buth: Mr. Morley, you used Australia as an example. How is
Canada doing relative to other countries?
Mr. Morley: Australia has a National Children's Commissioner. It
has been said that it is impossible to have a national children's
commissioner in Canada because of the different jurisdictional issues, which
you know about more than I. However, Australia is also a federation, so we
were very encouraged to see that they had children's commissioners at the
state level, as do we in almost every province and territory, and that they
felt it was important, as a result of their dialogue with the committee, to
have a National Children's Commissioner as well.
They also have similar issues with indigenous and immigrant children, and
they saw it was necessary. It is too early to tell what the results are
because they just put that position in last year, but it is something that
we see as a positive step on the part of Australia.
We also see, in all of UNICEF's reports over the last decade, indicators
that, albeit not necessarily our programs, our results for children as a
country are failing. We are comparatively as wealthy as we were, but our
results for children are failing, and we feel that Australia's move is a
sign that they want to tackle this. That is why we view it as an interesting
thing for us to look at and to copy.
Senator Buth: My next question was going to be what the result is,
but you said is it is too early.
Mr. Morley: It is too early to tell. We do see positive results
from some of the Scandinavian countries. They are always the highest rated,
and there are issues of equity there as well. Then we will be challenged
because they are small and not federations in the same way as we are.
Australia was learning from the Scandinavians and they decided to
implement it. At UNICEF we feel that simply saying we are a federation is
not a good enough reason not to have a national children's commissioner.
Ms. Vandergrift: We know that a number of countries are making
gains through the use of things like children's impact assessments, and we
have asked some of them to come to the conference in May to tell us
about what they are doing, and that is a range of countries. Australia has
also now outlawed detention of children seeking refugee status, and that was
as a result of a significant study showing the detriments of that policy.
That is something we look to as a good example.
In terms of the process, we have seen countries coming to the table with
proposals for improvements in specific areas. It is that attitude we would
like to take into Canada. That is why we decided to ask for a report in a
year on what things you think you can move forward with. The review is not about
saying we are perfect or not and getting defensive; it is about what
improvements we can make.
That relates to your concern about compliance. The healthy principle in
children's rights is progressive realization. You keep moving forward. You
try not to move backward and you keep moving forward. That is the way we can
make progress in Canada as well.
The Chair: We have run out of time. There are other senators who
wanted to ask questions. Maybe we will get them next time.
Thank you for your presentations. We will keep what you have said in
mind. We certainly appreciate your continuing cooperation in working with
Thank you very much.
First, I want to thank all the various departments that work on rights of
children who are here and made the effort for all of you to be here. It is
very much appreciated by the committee. Issues dealing with Aboriginal
children will be covered in our next panel and the department will appear in
our next panel for Aboriginal children.
I want to thank you all for being here. I know these issues that you work
on are not easy issues. Senator Pearson said that very clearly: It is not an
issue of black and white. They are difficult issues that you work on. We
appreciate you making the time to be here today. I understand that Justice
Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada will make statements on behalf
of all of you. Obviously we want to hear from you. I would ask that you keep
your remarks as brief as you can, as we are all very anxious to enter into a
conversation with all of you.
May I ask you to start? When you speak, if you could introduce yourself
and say a bit about what you are doing, that would also help.
Jodie van Dieen, Director General and Senior General Counsel, Human
Rights Law Section, Justice Canada: Good afternoon. I am Jodie van
Dieen, Director General and Senior General Counsel, Human Rights Law Section
at Department of Justice. My colleague is Margaret Gillis, Senior Director,
Division of Children, Seniors and Healthy Development at the Public Health Agency of Canada. I will
begin with a brief statement.
Our departments are the co-chairs of the Interdepartmental Working Group
on Children's Rights and we are pleased to have the opportunity to address
this committee today with colleagues from the Department of Canadian
Heritage, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and
Public Safety Canada, all of which are members of the working group. Between
the five departments before you today we will be happy to respond to the
First, I would like to thank the committee for its ongoing study of the
implementation of Canada's obligations under the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child. We recognize that your work forms an important
part of the process for strengthening reporting and monitoring of the
convention's implementation, as well as for providing an important forum for
public input, education and awareness-raising on children's rights.
In addition, the committee reports, including the most recent one on
cyberbullying and on sexual exploitation of children, have and will continue
to provide important guidance for policy discussions.
As demonstrated in its most recent reports to the UN Committee on the
Rights of the Child and during its appearance before the committee, the
government remains committed to promoting and safeguarding the rights of
children. As the committee is aware, Canada's international human rights
treaty obligations are implemented through constitutional protections, as
well as laws, regulations, policies and programs at all levels of
government. As such, the protection of promotion of human rights in Canada
is multi-faceted and a collective and collaborative effort.
Children are a priority for the Government of Canada. Through a wide
range of investments and initiatives, the government helps to ensure that
all children in Canada receive the best possible start in life. Canada has
taken progressive steps to help ensure a child's right to survival, healthy
development, protection and social participation, but recognizes its work is
In addition, Canada has robust laws to protect children from various
forms of child sexual exploitation, including child pornography, child
sexual exploitation on the Internet, child prostitution, child sex tourism
and human trafficking.
Canada has taken action to protect children from these crimes through
national initiatives. For example, on June 6, 2012, the government launched
the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, which provides new
initiatives to address human trafficking in all its forms, including the
trafficking of children.
The committee acknowledged in its 2007 report, entitled Children: The
Silenced Citizens, that in addition to these various measures, effective
mechanisms must be in place to ensure the ongoing implementation of
international human rights treaty obligations. In this regard, the
government is taking steps to enhance its existing mechanisms and procedures
in two interrelated areas: Intergovernmental and interdepartmental
coordination and engagement with civil society.
With regard to intergovernmental and interdepartmental coordination, the
effective implementation of children's rights is neither the domain of any
one federal department nor, in our federal system, of any one government. It
is the responsibility of all departments and all governments.
The government agrees with the committee that coordination and
cooperation within and among jurisdictions is essential to ensure that
children remain a priority.
Key mechanisms to facilitate coordination, and ultimately the effective
implementation of Canada's international human rights obligations, include
federal, provincial and territorial committees and interdepartmental
committees concerned with specific human rights issue areas.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments continue to consult and
coordinate their actions on issues relating to children through these
Ongoing dialogue within our federal system is a crucial part of ensuring
compliance and effective implementation across Canada. One federal,
provincial and territorial committee of which you have heard discussed in
the past is the Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights, or the
CCOHR. The role of the committee is one of coordination and information
sharing with respect to Canada's reports to and appearances before UN treaty
bodies. With regard to the children's convention in particular, the CCOHR is
the vehicle through which federal, provincial and territorial partners
prepare their periodic reports to the UN committee, prepare for their
appearances and discuss follow-up to the committee's concluding
Another coordination mechanism is the federal Interdepartmental Working
Group on Children's Rights. It was created in response to one of the
recommendations of this committee and coordinates activities, policies and
laws relating to children at the federal level. Co-chaired by the Department
of Justice and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the working group brings
together 18 departments with direct responsibilities related to children and
families. Members are policy and program officials with expertise on matters
relating to children, whose work is supported by senior officials within
their respective departments and the Deputy Ministers' Committee on
International Human Rights and Domestic Law and Policy. The convention is
the underlying foundation for its work.
To promote a whole-of-government approach to children's rights, the
working group provides an invaluable forum for ongoing dialogue between
federal departments, to exchange information and resources on developments
and best practices relating to children's rights issues and to discuss new
and emerging issues related to children's rights.
The working group has been looking at its operations and its work in
advancing children's rights across the government and is continuing to
explore opportunities to work collaboratively. The working group has begun
to focus discussions and presentations on best practices on key
child-related issues to encourage collaborative work in policy areas of
various federal departments connected with the implementation of the
convention, including violence against children and data collection. The
working group aims to align departments to work cross-functionally on shared
outcomes and to provide them with information, support and resources, while
respecting individual departments' diverse priorities and mandates.
To increase awareness and understanding of the obligations under the
convention amongst the federal officials, considerable work has been done,
both in terms of training and information-sharing. Since the government-wide
full day conference on children's rights in 2009, departments have extended
their efforts by routinely providing training geared to the work of their
officials who are involved in policy and program development.
For example, the Department of Justice provides training on the
convention to departmental lawyers to build their capacity to advise
officials across government on Canada's treaty obligations. The Public
Health Agency of Canada also provides training on children's rights to
program and policy officials. In addition, the working group has created a
reference guide of documents and resources on children's rights to assist
officials who work on child-related issues to keep them informed of new
developments, including with respect to the scope of rights relating to
I already mentioned that one of the enhancements to the mechanisms
related to the implementation of international human rights obligations is
in relation to engagement with civil society.
In response to Canada's 2009 Universal Periodic Review, the government is
striving to build on its progress to date in improving the process for civil
society and Aboriginal organizations consultations, both in terms of
openness and transparency.
In this regard, the CCOHR membership list is being shared with
organizations to provide a point of contact in the provinces and territories
for questions related to international human rights obligations, including
with regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The CCOHR is also
now holding regular meetings with representatives from civil society and
Aboriginal organizations at the time of its own in-person meetings. These
meetings are proving to be a useful mechanism to hear the views of
non-governmental organizations and to inform intergovernmental discussions.
The Interdepartmental Working Group on Children's Rights has also engaged
with representatives from civil society. Two meetings have been held. One
was in May 2011 with representatives from the Canadian Coalition for the
Rights of Children to present their draft shadow report to the UN committee
and one in February 2012 to provide feedback to the coalition on the draft
report. The working group's follow-up to these meetings included the
preparation of meeting summaries to inform departments' consideration of
civil society concerns and recommendations in their policy development and
the identification of key issues for future interdepartmental discussions.
Federal departments routinely consult with Canadians and civil society
organizations for feedback on the development of new laws and policies,
programs and regulatory frameworks. This is the primary way in which civil
society can interact with the government and provide direct input into
government policy development.
Individual working group members have held meetings with civil society to
discuss substantive child-related issues relevant to their departmental
mandate and means for addressing them. For example, the Public Health Agency
of Canada has ongoing working relationships with UNICEF Canada and the
Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children. Since Canada's appearance,
the agency has been working with these organizations to discuss priorities
for action under the health mandate, including in the areas of mental health
The government recognizes that understanding the views of civil society
contributes to informed decision-making and enhances both implementation and
To improve public input in Canada's periodic reporting to United Nations
treaty bodies, the government is now undertaking broad consultations on a
draft outline of the reports that Canada submits to the United Nations. This
includes periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. A
draft outline of the report is shared with civil society and Aboriginal
organizations, which are then invited to identify any additional key
questions and to help prioritize the issues that could be addressed in
I would also note that the UN reporting process specifically provides for
reports to be submitted by non- governmental organizations on a country's
treaty implementation. For Canada's appearance before the UN Committee on
the Rights of the Child last year, 14 NGO reports were submitted.
During the process of preparing for Canada's appearance before the UN
committee, the CCOHR invited non- governmental organizations to meet with
federal, provincial and territorial officials to hear their views on
priority areas of concern relating to the situation of children in Canada.
Many of the issues that were raised, including independent monitoring, child
poverty, and the health and well-being of Aboriginal children, were
addressed in Canada's response to the UN committee's list of issues, and
later in Canada's presentation before the same committee.
I will now turn to my colleague, Margaret Gillis, from the Public Health
Agency of Canada who will speak to you about Canada's appearance before the
committee and follow-up to the committee's concluding observations.
Margaret Gillis, Senior Director, Division of Children, Seniors and
Healthy Development, Public Health Agency of Canada: I would like to
share with you our reflections on Canada's appearance before the UN
Committee on the Rights of the Child that took place September 26 and 27,
2012. Our last appearance was in 2003. As an international leader in human
rights, Canada supports the reporting process of the United Nations
Committee on the Rights of the Child, viewing it as a forum for dialogue and
an opportunity to highlight our ongoing commitment to meet our international
obligations in respect of children's rights and to share best practices
between the state party and the treaty body.
Overall, the appearance was quite positive. The Canadian delegation had
representatives from numerous federal departments as well as from the
province of Quebec. The Public Health Agency of Canada acted as head of
delegation and was supported by the permanent mission of Canada to the
United Nations in Geneva. We have made good progress since 2003 in
protecting and promoting the rights and well-being of children and we
presented a number of initiatives to the committee that reflected Canada's
commitment to children's rights. Canada's dedication and leadership on
children's rights, both domestically and internationally, was recognized
throughout our appearance.
During the appearance, Canada took the opportunity to highlight some of
its achievements in implementing the convention. Those achievements include
significant investments in early childhood development, early learning and
child care; the adoption of the National Action Plan to Combat Human
Trafficking; the establishment of the Mental Health Commission of Canada;
amendments to the Criminal Code to create two new offences to prevent child
sexual exploitation; and the adoption of the Framework for Action to Promote
Healthy Weights, which makes childhood obesity a collective priority for
action across governments.
The committee responded positively to these and other initiatives that
effectively demonstrated Canada's commitment to the rights of the child.
Through the interdepartmental working group of federal departments and
agencies, we were able to capture the work of federal government departments
and highlight significant achievements in implementing children's rights.
Additionally, through the Continuing Committee of Officials on Human Rights,
we were able to successfully collect and demonstrate the efforts of the
provinces and territories in implementing the convention in their respective
The committee members indicated from the outset that they perceived
Canada to be a long-standing champion of human rights, including children's
rights, and thus they intended to hold Canada to a higher standard. As such,
our appearance was characterized by robust exchanges on issues of substance
and by a push from the committee to see Canada extend itself further and to
be a standard-setter on key issues to pull other countries forward. The
Canadian delegation rose to the occasion and responded to all issues raised,
and gave the committee the information it sought.
Finally, we also embarked upon a process of strengthening our
relationships with civil society in the lead-up to the appearance. We
engaged with civil society through formal mechanisms during the preparation
process, as well as informally in Geneva, to better reflect their concerns
during our presentation. We will continue to work with our partners and
stakeholders as we move forward on the concluding observations.
During its dialogue with the Canadian delegation and those other
initiatives, the committee raised concerns related to the protection of
children as victims of trafficking, the need for additional measures to
combat bullying and the need for more active measures to systematically
disseminate and promote the convention.
Allow me to address other concerns related to the committee's
understanding of the federal context. In that vein, the committee made
several recommendations that suggested that the federal government could or
should be more of a director in its relationship with provinces and
territories, despite the division of powers and provincial and territorial
Recognizing the need to provide the committee with a greater
understanding of Canada's relationship with provinces and territories, in
January of this year Canada submitted its updated core document, which forms
part of all treaty reports submitted to the United Nations and describes
Canada's system of government and human rights framework in greater detail.
There are additional observations related to the quality of information
and data collection. This remains an ongoing challenge, and we are mindful
of the need to work more closely with our colleagues in provinces and
territories so that, as we lead up to Canada's next appearance, we can
systematically collect information in a way that better captures progress
While we are pleased overall with the outcomes of Canada's appearance, we
acknowledge that there is still work that remains to be done. Canada takes
the view that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and its work is
very serious and gives careful consideration to the concluding observations
and its responses to them, as well as how it will be reporting on these in
the next periodic report.
To this end, the federal government has begun to initiate discussions at
both the interdepartmental and the intergovernmental level. The concluding
observations have been distributed to all relevant federal, provincial and
territorial government representatives, who advise their ministers and
governments on appropriate actions in following up to the UN committee's
recommendations. Preliminary discussions on the UN committee's concerns and
recommendations were held in November 2012 at a meeting of the
Interdepartmental Working Group on Children's Rights and of the Continuing
Committee of Officials on Human Rights. To inform these discussions and our
ongoing assessment of the concluding observations, the CCOHR met with civil
society organizations in November 2012 to seek their views on the
The federal working group on children's rights will continue to lead
interdepartmental meetings and meet with the CCOHR over the coming months to
coordinate discussions on the concluding observations.
Thank you, Madam Chair and honourable senators. We will be pleased to
take any questions you might have.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I want to clarify two things. One
is your meetings with civil society. From what I understood, you had two
meetings, one in 2011 and one in 2012. You said that there were 14 groups
that appeared in Geneva. Is my understanding correct, and what plans do you
have to have ongoing meetings? Have you formalized the meetings with civil
Ms. van Dieen: The two meetings that I referred to in my remarks
were of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Children's Rights with the
Canadian Coalition on the Rights of Children, and the 14 NGO reports were
submitted to the committee by the NGO organizations. There were some NGOs
The Chair: Have you met with the 14 NGOs? Have you made an effort
to meet with them on an ongoing basis?
Ms. van Dieen: The meetings that have taken place with NGOs on an
ongoing basis include the meetings through the CCOHR mechanisms, where there
is a broad invitation list to a wide range of NGOs, and also through
electronic means to consult on the draft outline of our report.
The Chair: Have you had more than two meetings?
Ms. van Dieen: The interdepartmental working group has had two
The Chair: I was a member of the Legal Committee when Bill C-10
was looked at, and I had a very firm understanding that there had been a
study on the impact on children's rights before that bill was introduced. I
am very concerned that when there was an access to information request, no
files were found. Is that correct, and why was that?
Ms. van Dieen: My understanding is that there was an analysis of
compliance with the obligations under the convention for Bill C-10, as well
as other legal obligations that Canada has. It is possible that such a
request yielded solicitor-client privilege materials for which the Access to
Information Act provides an ability for the government to not disclose those
The Chair: I might be wrong, but my understanding was that it was
not that a privacy issue but that no files existed.
Ms. van Dieen: I cannot comment on the actual response to the
access to information request. I can only tell you that in general terms
that may be a reason for why documents were not provided.
The Chair: May I please ask that you inquire and let the clerk of
the committee know what was said?
Ms. van Dieen: Certainly.
The Chair: I would also like to know if an impact study was done
of recent policy and legislative changes in respect to the immigration and
refugee proceedings and services on the rights of children.
Ms. van Dieen: We can also undertake to get back to you on that.
Senator Harb: I have two questions and both of them to the
Department of Justice Canada. First, thank you very much for your
presentation and for being here.
Now that Canada has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the
Child, is it your understanding that it becomes a legally-binding document
on the Government of Canada or just a guideline?
Ms. van Dieen: Canada is a state where the incorporation of the
obligations under a treaty into domestic law is not automatic, so it is not
possible for someone to come before the courts and point to a treaty in the
convention that Canada has ratified and say that they are entitled to
redress as a result of that particular clause in the international treaty.
Rather, Canada's domestic implementation and incorporation of the treaty
obligations into domestic law relies on a wider array of laws and policy,
including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Canada also assesses
all of the provisions of the relevant conventions, in this case the UN
Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Canada's entire legislative
scheme, including its policies and Charter protections, prior to adherence
to the treaty to ensure that Canada will be in full compliance with the
obligations under the convention that it is signing on to.
Senator Harb: Does that also take into consideration provincial
Ms. van Dieen: Yes. The process before Canada decides to ratify a
treaty includes a study at the federal level in terms of the subject matter
areas of the convention that are within federal jurisdiction and, through
the auspices of the CCOHR, reaching out to the provinces and territories to
ensure similar processes undertaken in those jurisdictions. In many
instances prior to Canada's signing on to a treaty and ratifying it,
provincial and territorial support will be required so that we have a clear
understanding that we are in compliance with the obligations of the treaty.
Senator Harb: Several years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting
with officials from Justice Canada working with Senator Landon Pearson on
issues dealing with children, in particular the mention in certain
legislation about the child being illegitimate if the mother and father were
not married. Justice played a lead role in going over every piece of
Canadian legislation on the books and cleared it up with the exception of
one item that deals with Aboriginal Affairs. At the time, Justice Canada
undertook to work with Aboriginal Affairs to figure out a way to amend the
legislation in that particular area to remove any reference to
My question to you, and you do not have to answer now, is whether there
has been any progress on this issue. If so, what is the nature of that
progress? Have we removed any reference to illegitimate child, whether the
parents are married.
The Chair: You will let us know later.
Senator Andreychuk: The 14 groups that indicated they wanted to
have consultations, did you meet with them? You heard them testify.
Ms. van Dieen: The 14 groups that I referred to are the 14
non-governmental organizations that submitted what we call "shadow
reports" to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in advance of
Canada's appearance before the treaty body. Some of those groups, including
the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, have met with government
and interdepartmental working groups.
Senator Andreychuk: Have you met with all 14 groups? The answer
is, yes or no and how many of them. I would like to know.
Ms. van Dieen: In terms of the interdepartmental committee, it has
not met with all 14 groups.
Senator Andreychuk: I am rather surprised, so I want to be sure
that a United Nations committee said that they were holding Canada to a
higher standard. Did they actually say that?
Ms. Gillis: Yes.
Senator Andreychuk: Who is answering the question?
Ms. Gillis: Yes, it was a comment made to us during the process
because we are a country with a long history of promoting human rights.
Senator Andreychuk: Was it one member of the committee or was it
on behalf of the committee? My concern for this is that the United Nations'
goal should be that all countries are equal with the same expectations.
While Canada, I am sure, can stay it wants to be held to a higher standard
and maybe should be, I find it rather dismaying that we would have different
standards for different countries in the human rights committee.
Ms. Gillis: It was the chair of the committee that made that
Senator Andreychuk: Thank you.
The Chair: I have a number of questions. This will come to you as
no surprise because in report after report that this committee makes, we ask
for the government's intentions with regard to the creation of the
children's commissioner, as has been recommended by so many. What is the
position regarding the children's commissioner? You heard today from UNICEF
Ms. van Dieen: In terms of a children's commissioner, there has
been a private member's bill with regard to that topic. The government's
position in terms of that private member's bill proceeding through
Parliament reflected a concern that the current climate of fiscal restraint
meant that the creation and maintenance of an office of a children's
commissioner would be costly, in particular in light of the fact that it
would duplicate existing international reporting processes, could replicate
current domestic implementation mechanisms and could impact indirectly on
the provincial and territorial areas of responsibility.
Many of the issues relating to children fall within the jurisdiction of
the provinces and territories. Most provinces and territories have already
established independent children's commissioner, advocates or ombudspersons.
The government considers that the money required to create and maintain
an office of a federal children's commissioner would be better spent on
concrete programs and services for Canadian children and youth rather than
on creating another layer.
The Chair: Have you studied what Australia has implemented?
Australia also has a federal structure. Have you given any thought to what
Australia has done?
Josée Filion, Counsel, Human Rights Law Section, Department of Justice
Canada: The context within which the assessment of the bill before
Parliament and generally on the question of children's commissioner is
conducted within the confines of our Constitution and our division of
powers. While it is helpful to look to other states for purposes of looking
for best practices, it is also required to bring it within our framework. I
am not versed in the legal system in Australia, let alone their division of
powers. I cannot say whether as many issues fall to their states-equivalent
PTs as they do in Canada for purposes of implementation of the treaty.
Therefore, without being able to speak to that, I can say generally that
looking to other states, as I mentioned, is part of the process. However, it
is not determinative of a decision or an issue with respect to the
The Chair: Do I understand correctly that one of the main reasons
that we do not have or will not appoint a children's commissioner is
Ms. van Dieen: That is one of the reasons, yes.
Senator Ngo: Ms. Gillis, you mentioned that the chair of the UN
committee holds Canada to a higher standard. What was the response of our
delegation? Perhaps Ms. Fountain-Smith could answer that.
Ms. van Dieen, you mentioned the cooperation of the federal, provincial
and territorial governments. At the beginning of the hearing, we had the
Office of the Children's Commissioner and UNICEF asking for data that were
not provided by the federal or provincial governments. Could you elaborate
Sarah Fountain Smith, Director General, International Organization,
Human Rights and Democracy Bureau, Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Canada: It is important to clarify that the members of the committee,
including the chair, serve in their capacity as individual experts, so they
are not speaking for the UN as a whole. While I share the senator's concerns
about the nature of the comment and how it affects the whole principle of
universality that we are striving for in the UN system, it is important to
make the distinction that this was an individual point of view and probably
intended to flatter and compliment our status as a country that has been a
champion of human rights. It is an important point that you make and one
worth repeating. However, I do not think we should see this as an
institutional perspective on Canada's performance.
Senator Ngo: Thank you for that clarification.
Ms. Gillis: With respect to data, it is always complex when we get
into this one. Because we have a federated system with the shared federal,
provincial and territorial responsibilities on children's issues, there are
numerous data sources that exist and together capture the data necessary for
us to inform policy and program development. Nationally, our data is drawn
from a variety of Statistics Canada sources, such as the census and the
General Social Survey, as well as other federal departments and agencies,
for example the Survey of Young Canadians.
We aim to coherently collect data on children, using coordinated and
integrated forms of data. These include some population-based surveys,
health care administration data, vital statistics and specialized
subject-specific systems. We have certainly made some progress on collecting
data on child abuse, neglect and injury surveillance, through a number of
different methods. However, we still have to marry those to a number of
sources that the provinces do that might not have, statistically, all of the
same stories and answers. We have some work to do in that area, and we are
working on that.
Senator Ngo: Are you saying that UNICEF or the Canadian Coalition
on the Rights of Children asked for data and did not receive it because of
Ms. Filion: I believe your question was whether or not we provided
Senator Ngo: Yes, because they are asking for data, and then, just
now, they said they did not receive it.
Ms. Filion: Part of the written response that was provided prior
to the appearance, what we call a "list of issue," did contain a part 3
relating specifically to data and numerous areas under which the committee
requested data. Answers were provided for every single question with respect
Now, whether it is sufficient or reflective of what the
committee is looking for is potentially a different question.
They might identify certain gaps in the way that the data is presented
but with which they are, nonetheless, provided. The other possibility that I
believe was raised was also with respect to disaggregation under either
different groups of children, different regions or different areas within
Canada. Nevertheless, the responses were provided, based on the information
that is currently available from Statistics Canada.
Senator Ngo: Thank you.
The Chair: Can you clarify for me exactly what measures you are
taking to ensure that there is accurate data and reporting with respect to
the implementation of the convention and what needs to be done better for
children who are falling through the cracks? What are you doing to collect
Ms. Gillis: We are working to develop the next generation of data
collection for people with disabilities as part of larger data. A new data
strategy is being looked at, and it will maximize the use of information
from our existing surveys by identifying ways in which we can compile data
and collect it in a better way.
The Chair: You are looking at it. Can you clarify what you are
Ms. Gillis: We are responding to something that just happened in
October, so we are in preliminary discussions in terms of how that will move
The Chair: At the moment you are not collecting data; you are just
looking at it.
Ms. Gillis: We are looking at ways in which we can, by looking at
the issues that came forward.
The Chair: One thing that is really bothering me is the issue of
equitable treatment of children. I would really like clear, not vague,
answers. What concrete steps are you taking to ensure that there is
equitable treatment of all children, including transparent analysis of
evidence with respect to discrimination in the availability of services to
all Canadian children?
For people who are watching this, the Senate is
sitting today and the bells are ringing. This will go on for 15 minutes. I do not want to adjourn for
15 minutes, so I ask people to just be tolerant of the bells. I am sorry
Ms. van Dieen: In terms of equitable treatment of children, we
heard from the presenters on the previous panel with regard to the issues
that they saw, particularly within federal jurisdiction, particularly with
regard to Aboriginal children and in terms of immigration and children
involved in the immigration system.
The Chair: I would also like you to address the issue of
Aboriginal children and Canadian vulnerable children. What are you doing
regarding equitable treatment of them?
Ms. van Dieen: In terms of data collection?
The Chair: No, we have moved on from that. Just treatment. I did
not get an answer on the data collection. I moved on from there. What
concrete steps are you taking to ensure equitable treatment of all children
— vulnerable children, Aboriginal children — including transparent analysis
of evidence with respect to discrimination and the availability of services
Ms. van Dieen: I think in terms of Aboriginal children, perhaps it
is a good question to address to the next panel.
The Chair: No, I am asking Justice. What are you doing?
Ms. van Dieen: In terms of Justice initiatives in terms of
Aboriginal children, there is, of course, the repeal of section 67 of the
Canadian Human Rights Act and the extent to which that enables
representatives of Aboriginal children and Aboriginal children to bring
complaints of discrimination under the enumerated grounds in the Canadian
Human Rights Act.
The Chair: You are asking children to bring complaints? Is that
what you just said?
Ms. van Dieen: Their representatives.
The Chair: I am asking Justice: What are you doing regarding
ensuring that there is equitable treatment of all Canadian children?
Ms. van Dieen: In terms of criminal justice issues, Aboriginal
children and other vulnerable children have access to services for children
who have been victimized through the criminal justice system.
For example, the federal government is providing project funding to the
provinces and territories and to non- governmental organizations under the
Federal Victims Strategy. The Victims Fund provides grants and contributions
to provincial and territorial governments and to NGOs to make services
available to meet the needs of victims of crimes, including child victims of
There are also legislative measures that Justice has put in place with
regard to enhancing offences in the Criminal Code for child sexual
exploitation and other crimes against children, increased penalties, for
example, for child sexual offences.
Those are some examples of Justice-specific initiatives.
The Chair: We have a number of people who are watching this
program, and for their benefit, may I please ask you how Justice defines
equitable treatment of all Canadian children?
Senator Andreychuk: Chair, I am not sure what you are asking.
The Chair: I am asking for a definition of what they mean by
equitable treatment for all Canadian children.
Senator Andreychuk: I do not understand in what context you would
ask Justice. I want to be sure. Are you asking: Do they have a definition of
The Chair: Yes.
Ms. van Dieen: In part, the answer to that question is informed by
section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is Canada's
equality protection on all of the listed grounds, including age, race,
national and ethnic origin and sex, for example.
The Canadian Human Rights Act also protects against discrimination on a
number of listed grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act, which covers the
services provided by the federal government, as well as federally regulated
industries, and enables Canadians to seek redress for discriminatory
inequitable treatment in the provision of services. Those would be the bases
that would inform a definition of equitable treatment.
The Chair: I would like to go on to another topic. As you know,
the committee recently did a report on cyberbullying and we recommended that
there be a coordinated strategy among federal and provincial governments
because we learned that programs often vary across the country and children
are getting varied messages. How is the government approaching this
Micheline Lavoie, Director, Serious & Organized Crime Strategies
Division, Law Enforcement and Policing Branch, Public Safety Canada: In
May 2012 Public Safety Canada and RCMP officials appeared before this
committee. The official government response to the Senate committee is being
prepared and for this reason the government will provide its official
response when it is tabled in the Senate committee in early May.
The Chair: I appreciate that.
How are the inputs of children and the best interests of children being
considered by the government in developing policies and laws? As we know,
the central point of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the "best
interests of the children." How is this being implemented?
Ms. Filion: The principle of best interests of the child is
clearly one that guides decision makers in Canada in terms of legislative
development but in addition to policy and is done so in a number of ways,
including giving the opportunity for the views of the child to be heard. As
you may understand, the Government of Canada's position is that "best
interests of the child" is an important principle that is considered, among
other factors, in the development of legislative measures, programs and
policies, and therefore not the primary principle.
The "best interests of the child" has been codified in several pieces
of federal legislation, and forms part of the consideration of various
departments that develop programs and not just the Department of Justice. I
would refer to the 18 departments that are on our interdepartmental working
group that develop policy. The "best interests of the child" principle
forms part of their consideration.
In terms of the steps they follow in order to consider this principle, I
cannot speak to that. I can say that with respect to Justice, in different
legislation that is under the federal sphere the "best interests of the
child" principle is considered. In terms of the development of policy, it
is one factor that the lawyers on the policy side of the Department of
Justice consider, including children generally but also their best interests
in the development, along with other factors that lead to the development of
policy in that regard.
The Chair: Can you give me an example of one piece of legislation
where it was considered?
Ms. Filion: Certainly. The Divorce Act is one area in respect to —
The Chair: That was not a recent act.
Ms. Filion: I am sorry. No, I cannot at this time.
Senator Ngo: Ms. Smith, you say that the chair of the Human Rights
Committee holds Canada to a higher standard, even though it is a private or
personal thing. Is this the reason why Canada has been blamed by Human
Rights Watch and Amnesty International? What did DFAIT do in order to hold
that particular person to a double standard? Why is Canada held to such a
high standard compared to other nations?
Ms. Fountain Smith: I will not speak for Amnesty or other
organizations. You can ask that of them. I was not present at the
appearance. I have recently returned from a posting so it was before my time
in this position. I do not think we made too much of it at the time. From my
understanding of the appearance, the rest of the appearance unfolded in a
way that was based in facts and other aspects. Perhaps one of our colleagues
who was actually there can speak to that.
I have taken note of it as something we should be vigilant about. I do
not think it is something we have seen as a widespread commentary or trend,
but it is something to be vigilant of. As I mentioned earlier, I believe the
intention was to be complimentary of our human rights record and our status
as a human rights champion. Therefore I would not be inclined to make too
much of it in that sense, but certainly it is something to be vigilant of
going forward to ensure there is a commitment to universality that is seen
by all experts reviewing Canada.
Senator Ngo: The representative of Amnesty International and the
Human Rights Watch representative blamed Canada for their standard of human
rights a few months ago. Did they?
Ms. Fountain Smith: You would have to ask them what informed that
comment. I do not want to venture an opinion on what informed their comment
in that regard.
Senator Ngo: Are you trying to avoid answering my question? When
they say that the standard of Canada is not up to par compared to other
nations, they have to base it on something. It was said by the
representatives of Amnesty International in Canada and Human Rights Watch in
Canada. What did DFAIT do up to now?
Ms. Fountain Smith: I recommend that you perhaps invite him to
speak to you and inquire as to his reasons for that statement and we will
take it from there.
Senator Andreychuk: I have a supplementary question. It is one
thing to say that Canada has a good human rights record and should do more
but it is the standard. You assess the standard and you can determine
whether Canada has done enough, according to its resource, its history and
its capability. My concern is that then there is the slippery slope for
others to say, "Well, you see, that may be a standard but we don't have to
reach that standard."
We have tried so hard to say that all countries should have the same
standard. There may be lots of reasons why some are progressing towards that
standard on a longer curve. They have impediments that Canada does not have,
so Canada should be judged according to the same standard as everyone else.
The outcome and the conclusions may be different, but to begin to indicate
that there is a different standard is not particularly a problem for me in
Canada because I think we have enough institutions. My concern is for all
those countries that may see that as an out, and that is why the whole
system that we have tried to come to is an equal standard, bearing in mind
that we are coming from different areas, and particularly with children. It
is a progressive right in the convention of the rights according to the
capabilities of nations. This is why it is worrisome that someone
sitting in the chair would have used those terms, not particularly with
Canada but on a broad base of evaluations.
The Chair: What key programs does the Government of Canada have in
place to address violence against children? In your view, are these programs
having a positive impact?
Ms. van Dieen: Canada has a multidisciplinary approach to
addressing violence against children. There are strong laws to protect
children at the provincial level through, for example, child protection
legislation, as well as measures in the federal Criminal Code.
The Criminal Code, for example, provides measures designed to protect
persons from violence, including children, as well as a number of
child-specific offences. In addition to these criminal law prohibitions,
there are prevention, intervention and assistance measures in place in
Canada to protect children from violence and assist child victims of
violence when it occurs.
The Government of Canada provides some national leadership and
coordination on the issue of violence against children, including through
the family violence initiative, which aims to reduce the incidence of family
violence in Canada; the national crime prevention strategy, which aims to
reduce and prevent offending, and the federal victims' strategy, which aims
to give victims a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments coordinate their efforts
on violence against children through a number of different forums. The
family violence prevention FPT working group, the FPT working group on
victims of crime, the ad hoc family violence working group and FTP directors
of child welfare committees serve as examples.
Provinces and territories, of course, are responsible for health, social,
child protection and education services, as well as the administration of
justice in each of their jurisdictions.
Just to elaborate a little bit on some of the Criminal Code measures,
some recent legislative amendments have been adopted to better protect
children from harm. This includes a new offence to respond to trafficking in
children, which is punishable by mandatory minimum periods of imprisonment.
Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, which received Royal Assent
on March 13, 2012, created two new Criminal Code child sexual exploitation
offences: making sexually explicit material available to a child, and
agreement or arrangement to commit a sexual offence against a child. It also
raised existing and imposed new mandatory minimum penalties for child sexual
exploitation offences, and these amendments came into force on August 9,
The Chair: Can I please ask you to provide to the clerk what
positive impact the things you have set out have had and how best are you
tracking the progress? You will provide that to the clerk, Ms. Van Dieen?
Ms. van Dieen: Yes, we will follow up.
The Chair: Thank you very much. I want to thank all of you for
being here. We look forward to working with you in the future.
I would now like to welcome Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
Canada. We are particularly anxious to hear from you because we know that
you have a lot of work to do, and we would like to know what progress you
have made. Will you be you, Ms. Ducros?
Françoise Ducros, Assistant Deputy Minister, Education and Social
Development Programs and Partnerships Sector, Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development Canada: Yes, it will. Madam Chair and honourable
senators, it is a pleasure to appear before you this evening to share the
information about Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development's continuing
efforts to improve the lives of Aboriginal people and northerners in Canada,
and particularly the lives of children and youth.
In January 2012, the Government of Canada and First Nations reaffirmed
the commitment to respecting the role of First Nations' culture and language
in our history and future. The Government of Canada remains committed to
working with First Nations to improve living conditions and create jobs and
economic growth in First Nations communities.
Much of this progress is outlined in the federal progress report released
one year later, on January 24, 2013. It includes the government's
commitments from the January 11, 2013 meeting between the Prime Minister,
national chief, parliamentarians and chiefs, to high-level dialogues on the
treaty relationship and comprehensive claims and to enhanced oversight from
the Prime Minister's Office and the Privy Council Office on Aboriginal
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada takes Canada's
obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child
seriously, and appreciates the feedback, in the form of concluding
observations, which we received from the UN Committee on the Rights of the
The department supports First Nations women, children and families
through the provision of programs and services addressing such issues as:
family violence prevention; child and family services; on-reserve housing;
economic security and prosperity; and education.
I would like to briefly address the concluding observations specific to
children under the theme of education, children in care, gender equity and
cultural rights. I can go into more details in response to your specific
In 2010-11, the Government of Canada invested more than $1.8 billion in
First Nation elementary/secondary school education and First Nation and
Inuit post-secondary education. Despite this, we know that there continues
to be a gap in education outcomes for Aboriginal children.
This is why the Government of Canada committed in Budget 2012 to
introduce a First Nations education act by 2014, to establish the
structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems
It also announced an additional $100 million over three years to help
ensure readiness for a new First Nation education system. To complement
these investments, a further $175 million over three years was committed to
build and renovate schools on reserve, providing First Nations youth with
better learning environments.
While legislation alone cannot ensure better education results, it can
provide the framework for reform by clarifying roles and responsibilities
and strengthening governance and accountability. Canada has also committed
to exploring the need for stable and predictable funding.
With regard to overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in care, all
children in Canada are protected by provincial or territorial child welfare
legislation. Child and family services are matters of provincial or
territorial jurisdiction. As a matter of policy, the Government of Canada
provides funding to provinces, Yukon Territory and provincially delegated
child and family service providers for First Nation children on reserve. The
provinces and territories are responsible for the delivery of service to all
other children, including Aboriginal children off-reserve.
Funding under the First Nations Child and Family Services Program is
provided according to several funding models across the country and support
services that may help families to stay together. Each model provides for
the delivery of protection and prevention services to improve the safety and
well-being of First Nations children on reserve.
The Government of Canada, provinces and territories and First Nations
have taken important steps to improve the delivery of child and family
services on reserve. One of the main drivers for reform was the recognition
that the costs and numbers of children in care were rising dramatically and
not leading to good or better outcomes.
The new enhanced prevention-focused approach provides funding for
additional supports and provides tools that allow parents to better care for
their children before a situation becomes a matter of protection. To date,
six tripartite frameworks under the enhanced prevention-focused approach
have been agreed upon in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Quebec, P.E.I.
Collectively, this means that the new prevention model is now being
implemented in First Nation communities in six provinces, covering 68 per
cent of First Nations children who live on reserve, with more than $100
million per year in additional investments being provided to these
jurisdictions. AANDC continues to share lessons learned and remains willing
to work with other jurisdictions as they shift their own approaches to
The Government of Canada has also taken significant steps to address
discriminatory practices of the Indian Act, including the Gender Equity in
the Indian Registration Act to eliminate specific barriers of discrimination
for particular individuals. The amendments ensure that eligible
grandchildren of women who lost their Indian status as a result of marrying
non-Indian men are now entitled to registration. It is estimated that some
45,000 individuals are now newly entitled to registration through this
legislation and will be eligible for the programs and services available to
all registered Indians.
With regard to cultural rights, Canada has also taken significant steps
to celebrate Aboriginal cultures and traditions, including through annual
events such as National Aboriginal Day. These events provide opportunities
to recognize the historic contributions of Aboriginal peoples, the strength
of present Aboriginal communities and their promise for the future.
These are just some of the way in which the Government of Canada is
working to safeguard the rights of Aboriginal children in Canada. The
Government of Canada continues to make Aboriginal issues a priority. I
welcome your questions on our programs and services for children and youth.
I might just point out that the people around the table who are here to
support this presentation are Daniel Ricard, who is responsible for
litigation management; Sheilagh Murphy, who does the social programs; and
Keith Smith, who deals with international issues in our department.
The Chair: I thank all of you for being here. Does anyone else
want to add anything to what Ms. Ducros said? No.
Senator Ngo: In the report, you say that the Government of Canada
provides $1.8 billion for services for elementary and secondary education plus $100
million for the next two or three years. I would like to find out
who is accountable to provide these services. Did you get any report from
these providers? Why do we keep hearing that it is not enough? We
poured billions of dollars for the years 2010 and 2011, and the next year
you say "more." Can you elaborate?
Ms. Ducros: Of the $1.8 billion, about $1.51 billion is provided
to First Nations for basic instructional services. Those would be the
services to operate schools on reserve from K to 12.
There is an additional $248 million over three years that was provided in
2008 to deal with some targeted programming that I can get into in a moment,
but that dealt with two major programs. One is the First Nations Students
Success Program, and the other is the Education Partnership Program.
Then $300 million a year is provided to deal with post-secondary
education. That is support to schools or support to post-secondary
institutions or support through assistance to students attending
On the issue of accountability, there are various ways in which we flow
funding. The major part of the funding is flowed directly through the
regions to the schools, and we fund that through contribution agreements
with the schools to deal with operating the schools on reserve.
In addition to that, the targeted programs that were introduced in 2008
were put in place to deal with innovative programming, namely working with
the provinces who have the expertise, by and large, with regard to operating
school systems, and putting provinces and First Nations and ourselves around
the table to deal with new partnership agreements. We have signed
partnership agreements in six provinces.
In the last budget, 2012, when the government introduced the concept of
introducing a First Nations education act, that was actually building on the
practices that we put in place with targeted programming, which was to deal
with bringing schools together to create some of the aggregate learning
practices, so to basically create some of those services that, in an
off-reserve school, would be funded by school commissions. The First Nations
education act will build upon some of those best practices.
With regard to accountabilities, with regard to basic services, the
results and outcomes and where the funding goes are based on individual
contribution agreements with the communities. With regard to targeted
funding, which is the $248 million to deal with these programs to create
aggregations and school commission type structures, they have to provide
reports to the government. Evaluations have been done on the programming.
We would argue that there is an understanding as to what is working and
what is not working. If you look, though, at the reports that have come out
starting with the 1972 report on Indian control of Indian education, through
the Senate report and the Auditor General's report, the two major
discrepancies are the lack of roles and responsibilities as to who provides
what on the school system, which comes, frankly, from a lack of overarching
structures, including things like school commission type structures, and the
way in which we fund, which is basic instructional services and targeted
programs that are project based and evaluated.
It was to that end that we are looking at dealing with getting the
funding streams into one funding mechanism that would probably or likely be
statutory in nature so there was predictable funding, but that funding
would also come once structures were put in place, which would be culturally
relevant to First Nations but would also provide some of those second and
third tier services that school commissions provide in the off-reserve
First Nations children are the only children who have no legislation
governing them. There are five or six provisions in the Indian Act, but
there is no overarching structure,
no school commission to which First Nations schools can go to for support,
so teachers on reserve cannot go to a school commission. We have funding for
special needs, but it comes through a different stream. There are all kinds
of interesting historic reasons as to why that is, but certainly there is an
understanding and acceptance of the findings of the Auditor General and
others that we have to move to a place where we have a system.
In the context of bringing forth a First Nations education act, we are
undertaking consultations across the country to address that.
Senator Ngo: I agree with you but I am asking who is responsible
for this situation? Does the funding go straight to First Nations or through
provincial governments or commissions?
Ms. Ducros: Currently, the bulk of the funding is directly to
First Nations. It is based on either a yearly or a five- year or ten-year
contribution agreement with First Nations. The contribution agreement is
based on a nominal role for the number of kids in schools and the services
that have to be provided. That is where the bulk of the funding goes. That
funding has gone through basic instructional services for some period of
For that funding, First Nations are accountable and have to provide
both audited financial reports and reports on outcomes. However, it
was clear in that situation that the outcomes, regardless of how they
reported, were lacking and gaps existed. That is where the funding came
in in the 2008 budget and later budgets: How to get to a place where you are
providing them with additional reportable funding on which they could create
these aggregate systems.
The 1.12, I believe, goes to basic instructional services. First Nations
report on that. With regard to targeted programming, the recipient
organization, which usually takes into account three or more First Nations
schools, would provide reports on that.
Evaluations have been done on all three types of programming. The
evaluations on the targeted programs, the partnership programs and the First
Nation Student Success Program, which we can provide to you or are on our
website, have shown successes on that front. We have testimonials and
evaluations to that effect. They account for the basic instructional
services through reports, and there have been lacking outcomes.
The Chair: In 2008 and 2011, the Auditor General of Canada found
that funding formulas for First Nations children and family services,
including the enhanced funding formula to be flowed, were inequitable. Given
the flaws in the enhanced formula, why do you continue to roll out the
enhanced funding formula to the exclusion of the other evidence alternative?
Ms. Ducros: That is a harder question, so Ms. Murphy will answer
Sheilagh Murphy, Director General, Social Policy and Programs Branch,
Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships Sector,
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: The funding that we
provide for the Enhanced Prevention Focused Approach is present in six
jurisdictions. It is important to note that AANDC is responsible for
providing funding for certain services within the basket of what a province
might provide for child welfare, so we do not necessarily cover the whole
gamut of child welfare. Other departments, such as Health Canada, may have
roles and responsibilities as well.
Within our authorities, when we have negotiated the Enhanced Prevention
Focused Approach, we sit with First Nations organizations as well as the
provinces. We look at how the province is administering child welfare, the
levels of salaries, and what they pay for; and we match that.
The whole premise of the Enhanced Prevention Focused Approach is to be
comparable with a province in those First Nations communities under the
Enhanced Prevention Focused Approach. We are providing money that would
provide comparable services to children on reserve as they would receive off
reserve in like circumstances.
In our point of view, we are providing what they would receive if they
were being funded by the province.
The Chair: How do you answer when the Auditor General says that
the funding is inequitable? Is it inequitable?
Ms. Murphy: From our perspective, we are matching the province,
whether they are receiving the full basket of services. It may be that
AANDC, Health Canada and HRSDC are providing services, and there may be
services from the province. Trying to get the total can be a challenge, so
is it may lead to a misunderstanding of who is funding what and what the
total investment is.
The Chair: May I have a clear answer?
Ms. Murphy: Our money is comparable to the provinces for the same
The Chair: That is not my question. My question is that the
Auditor General said that the funding is inequitable. Is it inequitable?
Ms. Murphy: It is not inequitable from our perspective in that we
match what the provinces would pay for the services we are responsible for.
If there is an inequity, we would have to talk to the provinces as to
whether their funding is inequitable because we are matching their system.
The Chair: Who is responsible for Aboriginal children in Canada?
Ms. Murphy: Each First Nation is responsible for delivering those
services under a delegated agency. Provinces have legislation and
regulations in place. Those delegated agencies are delegated by that
province. They are to match the legislation and regulations. We provide
funding in order for them to cover the services they deliver to First
Nations children on reserve. Some of those organizations may be providing
services to children off reserve as delegated by the province. In the end,
we see that the province is responsible for that delegation, for ensuring
that legislation and regulation is respected and that those delegated
organizations deliver according to that legislation and regulation. We fund
in order to provide services under our models.
Senator White: Over the past year, I have heard a number of
presenters talk about the success story of education in some Aboriginal
communities, in particular when it comes to high school graduation rates. I
also know from experience that a number of the people graduating from high
school do not have a high school education. In fact, if you used the general
equivalency diploma testing, a number of them will score much lower than
grade 12 and grade 8 or 9 in parts of Nunavut. Does AANDC do any evaluations
specifically on individual students, rather than simply accepting that they
have a high school graduation diploma and that the diploma they carry is
worth the paper it is written on?
Ms. Ducros: That is an excellent question. The department provides
funding, and I was not trying to skirt the question. The department knows
that it provides funding and that the funding provided for the basic
instructional services has not dealt with the gaps. We know and we hear from
both First Nations and the provinces that when students go from grade 4 on
reserve to grade 5 off reserve, they often are not able to continue. In the
targeted programming, we have tried to put in place, working either with the
provinces or with an aggregate of First Nations, student retention programs
to get at that issue. We are dealing with student retention programs and we
are working with the provinces to ensure that the testing and the
assessments on the reserves are culturally relevant and the results are the
same as off-reserve.
There are two instances where there have been fairly important success
stories. One of them is a tripartite agreement concluded with the First
Nations Education Steering Committee of British Columbia. They put together
a structure. Although it does not fulfill all of the same roles as the
provincial structure, it does all of the assessments and has a certificate of
graduation that is equivalent to a provincial graduation certificate. They
have graduation rates of about 50 per cent, which are higher than in some
other instances. There is a certainty that the graduation rate is equivalent
to a graduation rate of kids off reserve.
The other example is in Nova Scotia, which is under a self-government
agreement. They go through all of the assessments used by the province. They
receive a recognized high school graduation diploma.
In the Prairies, there is recognition that if you meet a certain amount
of provincial credits in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, you will have a high
school diploma, and we are not sure how that is working. That is why, moving
forward with the First Nations education act, the discussion paper that we
are using for consultation sets out some culturally relevant approaches but
certain basic standards that would have to be met, including the fact that
you would have to have the equivalency of a graduation diploma, which would
be measured by the fact that the provinces recognized it. If it was an
international baccalaureate or if it was a grade 6 education, you would have
to meet the same assessment-type criteria that you would meet in a province.
There have been a lot of issues in the consultations about recognitions,
treaty rights and government, but there has not been a reticence, as long as
some of those interpretations and some of the testing will be done in a
culturally relevant way, to adopt those standards.
Senator White: Thank you for the response. Under the new First
Nation education act, we are talking having a set of standards province by
province, territory by territory, not a federal standard but one that would
meet the local flavour, if I may.
Has there been any research? Some of the challenges in some Aboriginal
communities across the country, particularly in the North, have been around
early childhood, the fact that language might be an issue. In Nunavut, for
example, most may primarily speak Inuktitut until age six or seven. Has any
work been done on pilot projects on early childhood education at age two and
a half to five as to whether you can have a greater impact by giving them
the leap, I guess, as they move into schooling?
Ms. Ducros: There has been a lot of research done both by us and
others. There is certainly that view, which is why we do some of that
programming through other departments, like the Head Start programing, which
Health Canada administers. As we have looked forward to moving towards a
First Nations education act, we have talked about delivering comparable
programming, but we have also talked about how we would get to a point where
we are adopting some of the best practices, for example, the practices on
full-day kindergarten in Ontario and elsewhere. We are trying to deal with
both of those.
We have done some of that research internally; most of it is done
externally. A lot of research is being done on language and culture, some of
it with the James Bay Cree of Quebec. A couple of studies in 2007 and 2008
were done in British Columbia on both culturally relevant education and
exposure to language and how they deal with it.
What we are trying to do with the First Nations education act is ask how
to balance the notions from the research that says that if you learn
something in a culturally appropriate way, language is one thing, but how do
you deal with the learning mechanisms? It is understanding that when you get
out of grade 7 and you have to go into chemistry, you have to have the
basics to go into chemistry, and what we have drawn on the research done by
the joint panel is you have to be able to balance those two things. How do
you get to a culturally relevant understanding?
That is the same thing for the assessments. The Innu of Labrador have
gone from the province to their own established aggregation, so what the act
would try to do, and what they are saying is once they develop their own
culturally appropriate assessments that dealt with measuring the literacy
rates and other rates that you would want to measure with the provincial
assessments, they tailored the assessments and had a better understanding.
It was to the point that some of those kids that were diagnosed or that resulted
in "literate" in the province were not in their assessment, but others were,
so we are trying to balance those two things, and a lot of research has gone
We are only responsible for south of 60 and the Yukon Territory. We
devolved education to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut where they
manage their education system, although we have a strategy that we worked on
with them to try to deal with best practices.
Senator White: That raises another concern for me. I am always
concerned about the accountability piece. Now you are telling me there are
two locations that have no accountability to the federal government that
Ms. Ducros: We do not fund Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.
Senator White: Through the transfer payments you do, but not
Ms. Ducros: Correct.
The Chair: This committee has travelled recently to look at the
challenges of off-reserve Aboriginal people. One of the things that that the
president of the Aboriginal university in Saskatoon said was that the
challenge was K to 12. The education that Aboriginal children receive from K
to 12 on reserves is inadequate. This is a challenge all of us face, and I
am pleased to hear about what you have done with B.C., but this is something
that all of us have to face, namely, the level or the standard of education
from K to 12 that Aboriginal children are receiving. They do not stand a
chance once they leave the reserve or even to continue with their studies.
Are you implementing programs to help? One is that you are setting
standards, which is very good to hear that.
Ms. Ducros: The programs that we are implementing across the
country, the EPP program and the First Nation Student Success Program that
was supposed to target and has targeted that and has had results, are now
being implemented in 92 per cent of all communities.
We meet regularly with the First Nations University as well, and they
have said the same things to us. There is no disagreement. The federal
government never disagrees that we are not meeting or ensuring outcomes or
closing gaps. We are trying to take all the best practices that we are
dealing with and moving forward.
I should forward the evaluations on FNSSP because they are showing
results. The truth is, and you have probably heard this with First Nation
University, the K to 12 education and the fact that when we move on some of
the institutional programming, what FNU will say is where we end up having
to program is not in skills training but we have to deal with the basic
adult education because of the K to 12. There has to be both a reach back
from the post- secondary education institutions to K to 12 and understanding
in K to 12. Some of the examples that are working is that when PSE
institutions go into the communities at K to 12 to tell the kids that the
reason they are in school in grade 6 is that they will end up being doctors
and engineers and some of the industries — Cameco is a case in point — where
they go back to the K to 12 communities because they are finding in some of
those communities that K to 12 education because of residential schools and
other examples is not relevant to them, so you have to make it relevant to
Senator Andreychuk: You touched the point, namely, the Cameco
experience. It is role models; it is parenting. You talked about culturally
relevant, and it seems to me that you have to include more of the resources,
identify where they are living, and that is the Cameco experience, but there
is also parenting and the value of education. If it has not been relevant to
the parent, it will not be relevant to the child.
You have talked about culturally appropriate. How are you extending it
into a community responsibility? I say that because the kids that I deal
with in Saskatoon or Regina or elsewhere do not have the role models, and
that is the whole point. The pride in going to school is not there; perhaps
even the push to go to school, which is what I had to have to get there, is
not there, so how do you make it community relevant?
Ms. Ducros: That is a bigger issue than education per se. What we
are trying to do with it through the K to 12 initiative is to ensure that
once you deal with some of the structures and when you get to how you will
implement the school board, some of the things like parent-teacher
associations where you have to bring in the parents will have to be dealt
with in some of the governance structures, so we are trying to do that. To
make it relevant to the community, on that front, as we move towards some of
the other programming and the institutional supports to post-secondary
education and some of the active measures of income assistance, we are
trying to ensure that we are linking those things. I do not have a silver
bullet for you.
One of the ways we are trying to make it relevant to communities and to
get parents involved is to deal with First Nation student support programs
where we talk about parental involvement and early literacy, and take a book
home, things that have worked in some areas that we are trying to bring to
We are trying to draw on best practices and to stream them. One of the
comments we get is that we have a lot of best practices where things work
really well and they become pilots and are never mainstreamed. Part of the
issue there is the lack of structures, because if you have a best practice
in a school, and there is a school board or system that communicates with
another school board or system, it gets internalized.
Senator Andreychuk: Certainly, I keep seeing not just the best
practices but the students who have made it, and the things that are
relevant to kids, whether it is their fashion week, their chemistry awards
or their projects, et cetera. Those are the things that students are telling
me are relevant to them. They can see there are achievers all over the
place, rather than the negativity we see on the front pages all the time,
saying that the students are not making it. There are students making it and
they are very valuable in those communities.
Ms. Ducros: One of the single biggest comments that I get when I
do the consultations is, if you look at our discussion guide, when we talk
about gaps, they say it would be nice if even as you put out your discussion
guide you do not only talk about the gaps but you talk about those things
that work because it allows, even in the context of a consultation, for it
to be their own, so we promised to adjust our dialogue accordingly.
The Chair: As I was saying to you, our committee travelled to
Western Canada. One of the things that will always live with me is that in
Manitoba we went to a friendship centre and they had a powwow to honour the
children who had died because of violence. We all know the legacy that we
have been given for residential schools. Do you have specific programs that
help children to deal with issues of their parents' residential school
experience? How are they dealing with that? You did mention a little bit
about this, but how do you ensure that they get the ability to access their
language and culture?
Ms. Ducros: I am not familiar with projects in the context of our
programs that are funded in order to fund them for the residential school
experience, but I can tell you that there are programs within First Nations
schools that they access through some of the program funding that deal with
identity and culture. There is a widespread program of tiles. Every child is
asked to make a tile. That is all within the context of broader programming
and I would not be able to give you more details on that.
The Chair: The next question I have is on Jordan's Principle and
we know that Parliament passed the resolution. What are you doing to deal
with that motion and what are the steps that you are taking?
Ms. Murphy: Since Jordan's Principle was passed, we have been
working with all jurisdictions to ensure that the right constructs are in
place so that should an issue arise as to access to services we can sort
that out with a province or ourselves, including Health Canada, who is a
partner with AANDC in the response to Jordan's Principle. It is a child-
first approach to education, health and social programs. It is focused on
solving federal-provincial disputes, especially for children with multiple
disabilities. We have reached implementation agreements with several
provinces and there are federal and provincial contacts available in every
region. We have points of contacts for Aboriginal Affairs. Health Canada has
points of contact, as do the provinces. They case conference whenever a case
comes before them to resolve the dispute so that it does not turn into
Some provinces think the way we interact with them, both Health Canada
and ourselves, works well. They do not need additional constructs.
A few provinces wanted to take our relationship farther along. They
worked on dispute resolution mechanisms. We have done that in four
provinces, at the request of those provinces, and those are Manitoba,
Saskatchewan, British Columbia and New Brunswick.
We have established networks in all jurisdictions to look at Jordan's
Principle. From our records, since 2008 all cases brought forward to us have
The Chair: I have been given to understand that the government of
Canada's response is narrow in the sense that it only applies to medical
needs and to multiple service providers and so it leaves unaddressed
government service, denials or delays related to jurisdictional disputes
within or between governments in other areas such as child welfare,
non-complex medical needs, education and other vital children's services.
How do you account for the difference in the original scope of Motion 296
and its implementation of Jordan's Principle?
Ms. Murphy: When we responded to Jordan's Principle, we looked at
children like Jordan who had multiple challenges and multiple service
providers. That is where we focused our response. If, for instance, under
child welfare, and that is where it may not be a child who has multiple
disabilities, it may be a child who requires certain services, we have
arrangements through the organizations that run child welfare. They are
supposed to work with the province, with partners, to find the best outcome
for those children.
In my dealing with the delivery of child welfare, to build their
capacity, I am not aware of disputes arising. If ones were brought to our
attention, even in the child welfare case we would use the Jordan Principle
arrangements we do have to see if that would be an appropriate means to
resolve those disputes.
The Chair: Are you confining Jordan's Principle to complex medical
needs or does it apply to all?
Ms. Murphy: From our perspective right now, it is for children
with complex needs who require multiple service providers. Often they tend
to be medical, but they could be social or educational, but they require
The Chair: That is how you are focusing Jordan's Principle?
Ms. Murphy: Yes.
The Chair: I will repeat it: Children with complex needs who need
multiple services, that is where you are applying Jordan's Principle?
Ms. Murphy: That is correct.
Senator Oh: I have a question on funding. Canada has a small
population of 34 million. It is not difficult to count how many First Nation
children we have. We spend $1.8 billion plus hundreds of millions on
education. Are those monies properly administered? Are they being spent on
children or on adults?
Ms. Ducros: We know how many children are in First Nations
schools. There are 114,500 right now, full-time equivalents. Very few of them
are in kindergarten.
I do not think there is an issue where we do not know where the funding
is going. People report back. There are outcomes issues.
The money assigned to elementary and secondary school children goes to
elementary and secondary school children. There are other programs that we
have both at Aboriginal Affairs and at HRSDC that deal with adults who have
dropped out and come back, but that is not what it is being funded on. We
know there are problems with outcomes and a lot of money is being spent, but
we are not reaching the outcomes, so we have to look beyond just the funding
to get to a place where you have those supports for the K to 12 kids.
I am not trying to dodge your question. I hope I am answering it.
Senator Oh: I was thinking that there is no point pumping in more
money if the money is not properly spent. Why do you
Ms. Ducros: I do not think we would say the money is not properly
spent. There is reason people came to school commissions in the 1940s, 1950s
and 1960s. We need to get to a place where we are making sure that First
Nations kids on reserves are getting the same support. A teacher in a
reserve school right now has nowhere to go. If a teacher or principal in a
school commission in Ottawa were having problems, or needed pedagogical
improvement or social workers, they would normally go to a school board or
to a service provider. We can argue that it costs a lot of money. There are
415 schools across the country on reserve. Therefore you need to find some
way to get those second or third tier needs, but I do think the government's
position is that you should not increase the funding until you have all the
structures in place to ensure that you are getting those same supports and
structures that kids off reserve would have.
Senator Oh: The $1.8 billion, plus hundreds of millions, is a lot
of money for a population totalling 34 million.
Ms. Ducros: The $1.8 billion is not a plus. That includes
everything, for K to 12.
Senator Oh: It is still a big amount.
The Chair: It may be a big amount but the Government of Canada has
a responsibility to educate Aboriginal children and it takes that very
Ms. Ducros: The Government of Canada takes it very seriously, and
the Government of Canada is not saying the money is misspent at all. The
government is saying that you need to get to some of the other ways in to
address education gaps. Some are relevant and some of them are adapting.
School boards support the development of curricula that may have to be
adapted. They allow tailoring and provide assessments. There is a view that
we have to get to a point where we are providing the same types of supports.
I raised the issue of the Education Partnerships Program. The provinces
are fully engaged because the provinces also realize, because of
demographic issues, that it is the right thing to do, but then because of
demographic issues and the skills issues and the fact that you have these
populations around some of the biggest resource projects, it is in
everyone's interests to ensure that you are closing those gaps.
Senator Oh: I am not pointing the finger at government. I am
pointing the finger at who spent those monies.
Ms. Ducros: I would not say that they are misspending money. I
think it costs money to get to the school and it may cost more if you have
to find a social worker because you do not have a school system that allows
for a social worker, as opposed to being able to call up your school
commission and say you have this issue.
Senator White: Is it correct that there is no suggestion it costs
more or we are spending more to educate someone in an isolated community who
is Aboriginal than it would be if they were White?
Ms. Ducros: That is right.
Senator White: The amount of money being spent is the amount of
money being spent. This is not a race issue or a demographic issue at all. I
do not want to leave the suggestion that we are overspending on Aboriginal
communities. We are spending a lot of taxpayer dollars in isolated
communities when it comes to education, regardless of provincial or federal,
Ms. Ducros: Yes.
The Chair: My understanding is that there may be approximately
9,000 Aboriginal children in care in the child welfare system. Is that
Ms. Murphy: In terms of our program that we fund, yes. For First
Nation children on reserve, the number is between 9,000 and 10,000.
The Chair: What is being done for these children? Taking into
account that what we are looking at here is the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child and the cornerstone of the convention is what is in the best
interests of the child, what is being done to preserve their culture and to
ensure that we do not have a repeat of some of the challenges that
Aboriginal people have faced?
Ms. Murphy: In terms of the enhanced prevention focused approach,
one of the things built into that approach is ensuring that the services are
provided in a culturally relevant manner. We do not define what that means
down to the nitty-gritty detail. We leave it to First Nation communities to
decide. There is flexibility in the way the program dollars flow for
prevention, protection and maintenance of children in care to allow them to
develop services to serve children and their families in the on-reserve
context in a way that is culturally relevant.
In some communities, especially with the prevention dollars we have put
there, we have seen them starting to do more case conferencing and more
early parenting programs in a culturally relevant manner. That has had good
We have also been able to spend more time working in an early
intervention fashion with families so that children do not necessarily have
to be taken into care where they may have in the past. You can work with the
families and children and keep the families together.
Those are some of the things that the new enhanced prevention focused
approach is doing and it is allowing communities to define what those
services and programs can look like.
The Chair: This is a human rights committee. We do study issues affecting Aboriginal people, Aboriginal children, and one
of the things that is of great concern is when we talk about race-based
discrimination against Aboriginal children in the child welfare system. Does
Ms. Murphy: From our perspective, we are funding First Nation
child and family service agencies or provinces to deliver culturally
appropriate services in a comparable manner to the way they would deliver to
all children within that province.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your time today and we look
forward to working with you in the future.