Establish a Commission for Children and Youth

Spring 2018

Photo by Nastco/iStock / Getty Images
In the last analysis, civilization itself is measured by the way in which children will live
and what chance they will have in the world.
— Mary Heaton Vorse, American Activist
These words (above) also go beyond morality, as the sustainability and vibrancy of any community ultimately depend on the wellbeing of the next generation.
— Dr. Michael Shevell, McGill University (National Post, 2012)


Bring together experts and stakeholders from across Canada who will help to inform and guide government in ways to:

  • Ensure all children in Canada have a good start in life by addressing social inequality
  • Improve Canada’s standing in the world as it relates to child & youth well-being (currently 26 out of 41 countries, UNICEF 2016)
  • Achieve long-term health, social and economic benefits for individuals, communities and Canada


Key Roles

Ensure Canada is making progress in implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in achieving measurably better outcomes for children (across domains of rights and wellbeing)

  • National data should be collected, analyzed and disseminated, in collaboration with stakeholders including the justice, health, child and youth development, and child welfare sectors.
  • This information should support collaborative work, including the development of evidence-based policy.
  • Awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child among children, youth and families, in government, and across sectors (e.g. health, education, child & youth development, child welfare and justice) should increase.

➢ Facilitate meaningful engagement with children and youth, families, NGOs and other stakeholders on important children’s priorities to advise the federal government and other entities that have responsibility and influence (including those in the private sector)

  • The commission should be accessible to children and youth. It should amplify theirvoices and be a champion for and with them.
  • The priority will be to make progress while closing equity gaps, with a focus on systematically disadvantaged children and youth such as refugees, those living in poverty, with disabilities, or with mental-health needs and those who have diverse gender identities & sexual orientations.

Identify emerging issues and bring forward innovative approaches to address them

 ➢ Initiate its own reports or create reports at the request of the government

➢ Act as a resource with regards to the rights of children in the interpretation of federal legislation

➢ Collaborate with federal, provincial, and territorial policy makers, with government agencies and parliamentary bodies, and with others to ensure the best interests of children and youth are taken into account

  • Advise on federal laws, policies, services, and budgets in the best interest of children and youth
  • Highlight best practices that enhance child and youth well-being
  • Establish protocols with provincial and territorial Child and Youth Advocates on interjurisdictional matters
  • Promote collaborative efforts across Canada


If the commission is to address the health and wellbeing of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and youth, it will need appropriate representation and support. We encourage the federal government to work nation-to nation, respecting and including the self-governance rights of Indigenous peoples, when considering this proposal.



Call to Action (PDF) English | français

Backgrounder (PDF) Englishfrançais


This position statement has been developed with the participation of 10 national paediatric health organizations working together with a common vision to advance the health and health care of Canada’s children and youth.

The statement has the support of the following paediatric health organizations :