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CBA unveils children's rights toolkit for legal professionals

Thursday, May 11, 2017 @ 1:17 PM | By John Chunn

The Canadian Bar Association on May 11 introduced a free, comprehensive new tool to address an inherent knowledge gap on children’s rights in Canada.

The CBA Child Rights Toolkit is designed to help lawyers, judges and other professionals advocate, adjudicate and make better decisions for children. The online toolkit provides a foundation of basic information on the nature of children’s rights, including overarching principles, constitutional considerations, legal representation, the role of independent human rights institutions for children and child rights impact assessments.

The toolkit also provides concrete suggestions and examples of how legal principles can be applied, checklists, step-by-step key cases, precedents for argument or facta that have been effectively used and other resources.

The toolkit was informed by a survey completed by 110 Canadian lawyers and some 50 judges as well as input from legal and health professionals from across Canada.

Twenty years after ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Canada ranks 17th out of 28 affluent nations for children’s overall well-being. Canada drops to 26th for inequality between the most affluent and least affluent children. Children of all backgrounds are affected by our poor performance, but high risk and marginalized youth are particularly vulnerable.

The most recent “report card” on Canada’s compliance, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said the absence of comprehensive CRC legislation results in inconsistencies in implementing children’s rights across the country. Limited awareness of the CRC among not only children, but adults, was noted by the committee, as well as the need for child rights training for professionals working with children, including judicial authorities.