FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | ON UNIVERSAL CHILDREN’S DAY, FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTINUES TO IGNORE ITS COMMITMENTS TO CANADA’S VULNERABLE CHILDREN
OTTAWA – Today, on Universal Children’s Day, NDP MP Peter Julian (New Westminster-Burnaby) and Ms. Shawn Bayes, Executive Director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver (EFry), once again called on the Government of Canada to uphold its responsibility as signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure vulnerable children across the country have equal access to federally funded financial benefits and supportive programs and services. The Government’s response to EFry’s child rights petition, initially tabled by Julian in September, failed to address the issues raised in any substantive way.
“The Government’s response to the call for it to implement the changes necessary to support vulnerable children was wholly inadequate,” said Julian. “The Government of Canada must uphold its responsibility to guarantee equal access to federally funded benefits, services and programs so children with informal or less stable living arrangements are not further marginalized.”
“It has been nearly 30 years since Canada pledged to eradicate child poverty and support all vulnerable children equally,” said Bayes. “The Government must take the realities of vulnerable children’s lives into account when creating benefits to support them, so all can access support. It is also long past time to provide the promised specialized supports to children who experience parental incarceration, addiction or homelessness.”
“As we recognize Universal Children’s Day, we need to acknowledge that much remains to be done to improve children’s lives in Canada,” said Brigitte Sansoucy, NDP MP and Critic for Families, Children and Social Development. “Right now, 1.2 million children in our country are living in poverty, and fully one third of Indigenous children are living in poverty. Associations are sounding the alarm about child poverty in Canada and the urgency to establish programs to help lift these children out of it.”
This morning, Julian tabled the petition, adding more than 1,000 additional signatures, for a total of 6000 Canadians calling on the Government of Canada to uphold its international commitment to support all children in Canada equally, regardless of how and where they live.
The petition calls on the Government of Canada to:
• Ensure federally funded services like the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (and its replacement Reaching Home) provide client support funding for children.
• Remove bureaucracy that creates barriers to vulnerable children accessing federally funded child benefits such as the Canada Child Benefit and Canada Learning Bond.
• Provide supports for children who experience parental homelessness, addiction or incarceration. This includes adhering to the Bangkok Rules, developing awareness and the capacity for non-custodial sentencing options for pregnant women and women with dependents.
• Set standards within the Canada Social Transfer to ensure children receive the same benefits no matter where or how they live.
“As a society, it’s our collective responsibility to ensure the basic needs of every child in Canada are met,” said Ms. Bayes. “Children must not be an afterthought. We will continue to call on the Government to uphold its commitments to all vulnerable children across Canada.”
An electronic version of the petition sponsored by Julian can be found at e-petition E-1840: petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-1840
The Petition is open for signature until January 15, 2019, at 3:10 p.m. (EDT)
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