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April 2nd, 2019

We Need a Federal Youth Commissioner

OTTAWA – NDP Youth Critic Anne Minh-Thu Quach (Salaberry—Suroît) will introduce a bill to create a federal Youth Commissioner’s Office. The Commissioner would respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action recommendations and ensure that the rights of children provided in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, are upheld in federal legislation and programs.

“This is a response to over 30 years of demands from groups working on child rights issues. The Commissioner would have the power to educate Canadians on children’s rights, make recommendations to the government, and investigate cases. Moreover, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child is pushing the Canadian government to create this office,” said Quach. “The Commissioner would do what provincial commissioners and children advocates cannot: keep an eye on federal policies. Children and youth need someone in their corner who can educate Canadians about their rights.”

The Commissioner will play an important role, including reviewing the federal government’s treatment of First Nations, Metis and Inuit children and youth and ensuring compliance with federal laws.

“This new office will be able to advise the government, and when applicable, investigate and denounce federal government actions that go against the rights of First Nation, Metis and Inuit children and youth,” added Charlie Angus, NDP Critic for Indigenous Youth. “That’s why my colleagues and I recommend that the first Commissioner be Indigenous. This will help establish the office and the necessary precedents to create a good nation-to-nation collaboration.”

Quotes from groups supporting the creation of a federal Youth Commissioner:

“We welcome this bill for the creation of a federal Youth Commissioner. As part of its advocacy role defending all children, it will also pay attention to political issues specific to First Nations Metis and Inuit children. First Nations political authorities need to be fully involved in defining its mandate to ensure that it complements and supports the Declaration on the Rights of First Nations children in Quebec, that was adopted in 2015 by the chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), while also respecting First Nations Aboriginal and Treaty rights.”
- AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
“Children's Commissioners are a non-partisan and evidenced based approach to improve child wellbeing, including children’s health and safety, and reducing child poverty.”
- Emily Gruenwoldt, CEO of Children’s Healthcare Canada.
“Children have unique rights. The establishment of an independent Commissioner would go a long way towards ensuring that their best interests are protected and that they receive the support required to survive and thrive.”
- Sara Austin, Children First Canada CEO.
"Oxfam-Québec welcomes the creation of a Youth Commissioner in Canada, as recommended by the UN for several years. This person, whose mandates are national in scope, will be responsible for ensuring that Canada respects its commitments and fulfills its responsibilities, in accordance with the two conventions signed, in order to protect young girls and boys across Canada and allow them access, regardless of their origin, to dignified and satisfactory living conditions, while respecting their rights. This function is particularly relevant for young girls and boys from Indigenous communities, whose rights fall under federal jurisdiction. That is why Oxfam-Québec, which places the defence of youth rights and freedoms at the heart of its action, enthusiastically welcomes this bill. »
- Oxfam-Québec's Executive Director, Denise Byrnes.