Federal-Provincial-Territorial Council on Social Policy Renewal

BACKGROUNDER – A National Children’s Agenda: Developing a Shared Vision

Children are Canada's strength, today and in the future. That's why federal,  provincial and territorial governments are committed to working with Canadians  to create a National Children's Agenda*.

We need to work towards a shared vision of what we want for our children. We  need common concepts of our priorities for children and our collective  responsibilities toward our youngest citizens. Most of all, we need to find a  way to put our vision and values into words, and our words into action.

The publication, A National Children's Agenda - Developing a  Shared Vision, is an invitation to think about children. Canadians  are invited to imagine a society that values children for who they are, and that  provides opportunities for every child to achieve his or her full potential.  

VISION: What do we want for our children?

  • Canadians want their country to be one where all children thrive in an  atmosphere of love, care and understanding, are valued as individuals in  childhood and are given opportunities to reach their full potential as adults.  
  • Children who are respected and protected from harm will grow up to respect  and protect the rights of others. Valued, nurtured and loved, they will grow up  able to contribute to a society that appreciates diversity, supports the less  able and shares its resources.  
  • Given the opportunity to develop their physical, intellectual, emotional,  social and spiritual capacities to their fullest, children will become  tomorrow's successful and enthusiastic parents, caregivers, workers and  citizens.

VALUES: What do we believe about our children?

  • We respect the voices of all children and recognize their inherent worth: we  value children for who they are now, as much as who they will become.
  • We believe in protecting children's best interests: we believe that  protecting the interests of children is a basic social responsibility.  
  • We believe we can support children by supporting parents and families: we  believe that children grow up best within families that are able to provide  security, nurturing, respect and love.
  • We understand the value of working together: we believe that educators,  coaches, caregivers and other mentors make powerful contributions to children's  growth and well-being.
  • We believe in reflecting the diversity of our country: we believe that our  goals should reflect the richness and diversity of Canadian culture and the  unique needs of each child.
  • We honour Canada's Aboriginal traditions: we recognize and respect the  special importance of parents, elders and extended families in nurturing  Aboriginal children.

GOALS: What do we hope to achieve?

  • Good Health - Children should be as physically, emotionally  and spiritually healthy as they can be, with strong self-esteem, coping skills  and enthusiasm.  
  • Safety and Security - Children's basic needs for food,  shelter, clothing and transportation must be met. Children must be protected  from abuse, neglect, discrimination, exploitation and danger.  
  • Success at Learning - Children should have opportunities to  reach their potential for good physical and social development, language skills,  literacy, numeracy and general knowledge. They should be ready to learn  throughout their lives, so that they can develop the skills, knowledge and  coping skills they need for a successful transition to adulthood.  
  • Social Engagement and Responsibility - Young children  should be helped to form stable attachments to nurturing adults, including  strong, supportive relationships within and outside their families. They should  be taught to respect themselves and others, and to value the cultural heritage  and diversity of others. They should be encouraged to develop an understanding  of the rights and responsibilities of belonging to a wider society, and to  understand the personal and social consequences of their choices.

What can we do to meet our goals?

1. Support the role of parents and strengthen families, because they play the  primary role in children's lives.

2. Enhance early childhood development because the first few years are  important for children's lifelong abilities, health and well-being.

3. Improve economic security for families to help maximize child  well-being.

4. Provide early and continuous learning experiences, so that children become  lifelong learners.

5. Foster strong adolescent development by giving youth opportunities, skills  and a sense of belonging.

6. Create supportive, safe and violence-free communities where children can  thrive.

How will we measure success?

We need better information about children's development and well-being in  order to do our best for them. Communities, Aboriginal peoples, researchers,  individual Canadians and governments can work together to find ways to track the  progress of all girls and boys, and to use this knowledge as a beacon to guide  our efforts.

We also want to find better ways of sharing information on successful  initiatives, to make sure we're really putting our knowledge to work. A National  Children's Agenda will allow us to improve the lives of Canada's children, today  and in the future.

What's Next

Governments* will be sitting down with key partners to encourage dialogue  about the vision, values, goals and areas for action proposed for the National  Children's Agenda. The purpose of the dialogue is to develop a strong vision for  children by building common ground on what we as Canadians want for our  children. At the end of the dialogue process, governments will incorporate the  views of Canadians into a vision document and report back so that the vision can  guide all of our efforts to improve the lives of Canada's children.

All Canadians are welcome to provide governments with their views on the  National Children's Agenda. There are several ways to send in their comments: in  writing, to National Children's Agenda, 10th Floor, 280 Albert  Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5G8.

Written comments can also be submitted through the National Children's Agenda  Web site at www.children-enfants.org.

Canadians can also provide their views by calling 1-800-361-6392. The  operators at this number can also provide information on public dialogue  opportunities related to the National Children's Agenda in the provinces and  territories.

*The Government of Quebec agrees with the  objectives of the National Children's Agenda. However, the Government of Quebec  has decided not to participate in its development because it wishes to assume  full control over programs aimed at families and children within its territory.  Furthermore, the Government of Quebec has not signed the Social Union framework  agreement. Consequently, any references to joint federal-provincial-territorial  positions in this text do not include Quebec.