August 21, 2014
Premier Kathleen Wynne
Chair, Council of the Federation
Council of the Federation Secretariat
Suite 630, 360 Albert Street
Ottawa ON K1R 7X7
Dear Premier Wynne:
The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is a national voice for social work focussed on strengthening the profession and advocating for issues of social justice. The purpose in writing is twofold: to acknowledge the leadership of the Council of the Federation in publicly supporting the call for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada; and to urge for its continued promotion along with supporting the call for a National Children’s Commissioner or Advocate.
Social workers in Canada are deeply aware of the structural racism that perpetuates the continued deepening of inequality Aboriginal peoples experience relative to that of any other population in Canada. For over two decades, CASW has asked successive federal governments to put in place a national independent Advocate or Commissioner charged with making sure that in Canada, our children are put first and their rights are protected. We believe that this national Advocate could make a difference for all children in Canada and particularly Aboriginal children who are the most disadvantaged.
Despite the efforts of CASW and other national organizations dedicated to protecting and supporting children and youth, including the Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates, Canada sadly still has no independent body at the national level to ensure that children’s rights are placed at the centre of social and public policy. This must change if Canada is to address the structural issues that continue to perpetuate environments that place Aboriginal children at higher risk of exploitation.
Consequently, CASW asks for the Council of the Federations to support the call for the creation of a National Children’s Commissioner or Advocate that would be independent but accountable to the Parliament of Canada. This national Advocate should have a mandate particular to addressing the needs of Aboriginal children and youth and with a national dimension of promoting the equity of services for all children in Canada.
CASW calls on the Council of the Federation, at its August 2014 meeting, to take steps towards the creation of a national comprehensive strategy that will lead to far fewer Aboriginal children and youth in government care. To this end CASW has focussed its efforts in recent years on bringing attention to equitable and accountable investments that address the social determinants of health.
Most recently CASW published a paper focused on social, economic and health equity entitled: Promoting Equity for a Stronger Canada: The Future of Canadian Social Policy. In brief, CASW is highly concerned with the recent decisions of the Government of Canada that undermine the social safety net for all Canadians. The paper proposes a model of coordinated federalism in which all orders of government share financial and social responsibility in the development of programs, and makes many recommendations to improve the income, social, and health equity of Canadians. Among these, CASW proposes adopting a benchmarking system to ensure equity of services across the country, and creating a pan-Canadian accountability framework for the delivery of social services that adheres to conditions similar to those of the Canada Health Act.
Again, CASW thanks the Council of the Federation for publicly supporting the call for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada and urges support for the call of a National Children’s Commissioner or Advocate. Finally, CASW thanks the Council of the Federation for being open to how best to move forward in Canada to ensure all children and youth receive equitable social services and support.
CASW looks forward to learning of your discussions on these agenda topics and for continued calls for a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.
Morel Caissie, MSW, RSW