CASW Supports Call for National Children's Advocate

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2011

OTTAWA (November, 19, 2011) - In celebration of National Child Day (November 20) the Canadian Association of Social Workers is joining other organizations, including UNICEF Canada, in calling for a national independent advocate for children.
Although it is well established the number of ‘children in care’ in Canada is increasing, the Federal Government has yet to declare developing a national strategy to uphold the rights of children a priority. Most provinces and territories have done this with independent children’s advocates. It is time for the federal government to make the same commitment. 

Approximately 76, 000 children in Canada are under the protection of provincial and territorial child and family services. However, one prominent exception is the federal responsibility for Aboriginal peoples, with status, under the Indian Act of Canada.

“Given that the most recent information on ‘children in care’ indicates that between 30% to 40% are Aboriginal, CASW believes the time has come for the federal government to put an end to jurisdictional arguments by creating a national independent advocate’s office charged with realizing the rights of all children in Canada” notes Morel Caissie, CASW President.

The Government of Canada also has a duty as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure the rights of children are upheld.

“There are about seven million children in Canada – almost a quarter of the population, who have little or no voice in the decisions that affect them,” says UNICEF Canada’s Chief Advocacy Advisor, Marvin Bernstein. “Canadian children need an advocate at the national level to promote their best interests in law and policy, and hold the federal government accountable for its areas of responsibility. If we don’t appoint such a person, Canada is at risk of continuing to lag behind other industrialized nations on many measures of child well-being.”

In 2003 the United Nations’ Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that Canada create a national independent advocate for children.

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For more information:

Fred Phelps MSW, RSW      
CASW Executive Director
Tel.: 613.729.6668          

Melanie Sharpe
UNICEF Canada Media Relations
msharpe@unicef.ca
416-482-6552 ext. 8892