At the Laurent Commission hearing, collective pleas for children’s best interests

On Wednesday 25th February, a collective of 16 Quebec civil society organisations in the field of children protection took the stand in front of the Special Commission on the Rights of Children and Youth Protection (Laurent Commission). The collective was represented by Amy Cooper and Guillaume Landry, respectively Education Specialist for Equitas and Director General of the IBCR. They have been mandated to present and defend the recommendations of the collective, already announced in the letter to the commission last December.

They advocated for a reform of the youth protection system in Quebec and its approaches, submitting four main recommendations:

  • Consider the complexity of each child’s life trajectory
  • Listen and involve the child in the defense of their rights
  • Equip and train our society to care for its children
  • Watch and act to ensure Quebec’s children a fair protection

For nearly an hour, they were able to discuss with the commissioners the limitations of the current youth protection system in Quebec, particularly the lack of flexibility and respect towards the variety of situations and identities of children, which are too often sought to fit into rigid categories.

They also pointed out the lack of involvement of children in the decision-making processes that concern them, and recalled the importance of child participation, one of their fundamental rights set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Canada in 1991. Children are agents of change who are fully capable of expressing their views and playing an active role in their lives today, and our overall approach as a system needs to be reviewed to consider them in this way. The collective therefore recommends listening to and including children in political bodies at all levels of society, through participatory mechanisms such as a children’s parliament or committee, and governance frameworks for children in the places they attend (schools, youth centres, specialized health and social work services, etc.).

In addition, the collective highlighted the gaps in child rights education among children, who are the first to be affected, as well as among child protection professionals and decision-makers at the political and institutional levels. It therefore calls for better training and equipping these professionals by including specific training on children’s rights in the curricula of schools and organisations working with children, and by encouraging them, as well as decision-makers, to apply these rights at their level.

Finally, the collective seizes the opportunity provided by the Commission to advocate for the creation of an independent, accountable and impartial body responsible for investigating and making recommendations on the consideration of children’s rights in Québec institutions and society. Ombudspersons, defenders of rights… many examples exist in our provinces and around the world that Quebec could learn from.

During the hearing, the commissioners praised the work of the collective and the relevance of its proposals and innovative ideas.

The audience was recorded, you can watch it here : 

watch the audience

 ˃ Click here to read the complete release

Picture : Josie Desmarais – Métro