THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON HUMAN RIGHTS
OTTAWA, Monday, March 25, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 4
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
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 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
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 own plan.
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 is 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 practise 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 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 approach.
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 committee.
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.
The Honourable 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-making 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 till 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
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
abolishing 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
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 with.
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
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 those 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 2007 report.
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 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 well.
Asked about child care, one example, the government held up
Quebec's program to show Canada is fulfilling the convention. There was no
analysis of 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 that.
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 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 it does, I just ask the
question, why could Canada not provide the data the committee asked for? To me,
that would prove 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 see.
Second is data and analysis on the situation of children in
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 in the care of states. 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 much 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 were 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 give 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
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
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 difference.
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 in 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 he knows 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 the record.
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 environments.
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 agree.
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 it 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 implemented.
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
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, that is, rights and abilities to make decisions and choose things
for oneself has to relate to the individual capacity as children mature. Some of
those age differences do make sense in terms of child development.
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 the 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. It is not about saying
we are perfect or not and getting defensive; it is about what improvements we
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 the
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, Director, Childhood and
Adolescence at the Public Health Agency of Canada. I will begin with a brief
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 committee's
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 not
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
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
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 observations.
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 children.
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 and
The government recognizes that understanding the views of civil
society contributes to informed decision-making and enhances both implementation
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 Canada's report.
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, Director, Childhood and Adolescence, 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
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
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 responsibilities.
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 and
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 society?
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
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
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
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 “illegitimate child.”
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
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
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 as
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
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, 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 children's commissioner.
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 on
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
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 that or what?
Ms. Filion: I believe your question was whether or not we
provided sufficient data.
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 to
Now, the question of 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 the
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
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 forward.
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
For people who are watching this, these are bells as the Senate
is sitting today. 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 about
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 to
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 sexual
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
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 it?
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 recommendation?
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
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 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
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
representative 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
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 what 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, and
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
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, an 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, 2012.
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, 2013meeting 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 matters.
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 Child.
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
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 Nation's education act by 2014, to establish the structures
and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserves.
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
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. and Manitoba.
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 enhanced prevention.
The Government of Canada has also taken significant steps to
address discriminatory practises 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 plus $100
million dollars 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 are pouring billions
of dollars for the years 2010 and 2011, and the next year you say more. Can you
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 post-secondary institutions.
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 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 community.
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, but there is no over-arching 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? Are funding 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 time.
For that funding, First Nations are accountable and have to
provide reports, 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 in 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
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
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 services.
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
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
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
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 that although it does not fulfill all of the same roles as the
provincial structure 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 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 into it.
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
Senator White: Through the transfer payments you do, but
not direct funding.
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 is 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 them.
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 Jordan's Principle.
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 been addressed.
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
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
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
their 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 equivalent. Very few of them are
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
more money into the system if the money is not properly spent. How 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 the 34 million population of Canada.
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
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 the
demographic issues it is the right thing to do, but then because of the
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 the
government. I am pointing the finger at those who ineffectively spent those
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
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 the Human Rights Committee and one of
the things we do study 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.
(The committee adjourned.)