Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada supports the establishment of an Office of the Commissioner for Children and Youth in Canada. An independent commissioner would provide a nonpartisan and evidence-informed approach to improving the well-being of our children and youth and ensuring their rights are protected.
Boys and Girls Clubs provide programming for kids and teens in 775 communities across the country and together work to elevate youth voices in public policy decision-making. Over the last five months, we have seen massive disruptions in the lives of children and youth nationwide. It is vital that we have an independent commissioner who can advocate for young people affected by new issues, such as COVID-19, and ongoing issues in our country, including reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and ending systemic injustices.
As demonstrated in almost 60 countries around the world, an independent commissioner would shine a light on the impacts that federal policy decisions have on children and youth across Canada.
The need for a child and youth commissioner is especially relevant to support equity-seeking groups. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report calls on Canada to close the gaps in health and education outcomes for Indigenous peoples and address the over-representation of Indigenous young people in the child welfare and youth justice systems. The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls calls for a child and youth commissioner. This office could also work to combat anti-Black racism and engage on child poverty, youth mental health and youth employment.
Boys and Girls Clubs serve children and youth from coast to coast to coast and advocate with them to improve federal policies and supports. Bill S-217 would ensure that young people, particularly our most vulnerable, have an independent voice at a federal level. The establishment of an Office of the Commissioner for Children and Youth in Canada will be a foundational policy approach to improve coordinated action on children and youth issues. Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada join with our Children First Canada Council of Champion colleagues in calling for the Senate to continue its progress on this important piece of legislation.
About Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
As Canada’s largest child- and youth-serving organization, Boys and Girls Clubs provide vital programs and services to over 200,000 young people in 775 communities across Canada, and especially those from vulnerable communities. Our trained staff help young people build the confidence and sense of belonging they need to overcome barriers and form positive relationships, while reflecting the diversity of their communities. By delivering evidence-based, effective, and tailored programs, Clubs provide young people with the opportunity to explore their interests, develop their strengths, and realize positive outcomes in academics, physical activity, technology, self-expression, healthy living, mental health, and more.