4.1 Status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Canada ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1991. Since that time, significant progress has been made in ensuring its broad and continued implementation in Canada.
For its part, the Government of Canada has shown a commitment to using the Convention as a guide for improving the lives of children. First, the federal government reviews all new federal legislation for its compliance with Canada=s international human rights commitments, including its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Also, the government has worked in partnership with an umbrella organization of Canadian voluntary associations, the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, to systematically assess Canadian compliance in implementing the Convention. This exercise of monitoring the Convention=s implementation goes beyond law to include the effectiveness of policies and programs for children. This non-governmental report will contribute to improved decision-making and outcomes in all sectors. In addition, the government has employed the Concluding Observations issued by the Committee on the Rights of the Child as a tool to assess which new initiatives have had a direct or indirect effect on children, and also an opportunity to emphasize certain subjects raised by the Committee in subsequent reports. Finally, with the Government of Alberta providing its official support for the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1999, the Convention now enjoys the support of all jurisdictions within Canada.
Since its ratification, attention given to the Convention as a practical tool to ensure the rights of children has been both substantial and diverse. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), municipalities, youth organizations, researchers, judges, advocates, governments, schools, police and professional associations have made the Convention relevant to their settings by developing training workshops, concrete plans for the participation of youth, school curricula for the primary and post-secondary levels, monitoring mechanisms to judge government performance and child and youth-friendly versions of the Convention to more easily share its content with young Canadians. They have built strong networks and lasting partnerships through the Convention.
In 1993, the Parliament of Canada adopted November 20 as National Child Day, as testament to the importance of children for both the present and the future of the country. The selection of the date was inspired by the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations General Assembly on November 20, 1989. Since 1994, the Government of Canada has developed and disseminated educational and promotional materials to encourage schools, community groups, families and others who work with children across the country to mark this day. A National Child Day Activity Guide was created to assist youth, community groups, child care workers, schools, parents and others who work with children organize and promote National Child Day events. From 1994 to 1999, circulation of the Guide doubled, from 12, 000 to 24,000 copies. In addition to the conventional distribution of the Guide, there were 8,200 individual users who accessed the National Child Day website between 1999 and 2000. During the month of November 1999, there were 2,600 individual users who accessed the website, up from 1,800 in November of 1998.
In 1999, UNICEF Canada, in conjunction with Elections Canada, administered a national election on the rights of youth based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The election aimed to promote an understanding of Canada=s electoral process among youth and to heighten understanding of and commitment to children=s rights among both adults and children in Canada. It=s Your Voice: National Election for the Rights of Youth took place nation-wide where young people in over 1100 primary and secondary schools voted for the right they felt was the most important to them. Students in all provinces and territories cast a total of 187, 757 votes. Results of the vote showed that students perceived family (24% of the total votes), food and shelter (20% of the total votes) and health (11% of the total votes) as the three most important rights.