Saskatoon, May 7, 1999 -- The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Council of Ministers on Social Policy Renewal* today released a key discussion paper that is the first step towards developing a comprehensive, long-term strategy to improve the well-being of children. A National Children's Agenda: Developing a Shared Visionsets out for the consideration of all Canadians a common vision, values, goals and areas for action to engage all parts of society in an effort to better meet our children's needs.
The Vision document identifies four goals for a National Children's Agenda to ensure that Canada's children are:
The purpose of a National Children's Agenda (NCA) will be to ensure that all Canadian children have the best possible opportunity to realize their full potential. The Agenda will support the critical and primary role that parents, families and communities play in the lives of children.
Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow said, "We have a collective responsibility, first and foremost, to ensure that every child has the opportunity to grow up in a healthy, caring, safe and secure environment. This is true no matter where in Canada a child lives. Today's announcement is the beginning of a new national undertaking – one that is about building a better future for kids and a better future for Canada."
The Co-Chairs of the Ministerial Council are Pierre S. Pettigrew, Canada 's Minister of Human Resources Development, and Saskatchewan Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs Bernhard Wiens. Minister Pettigrew said, "Last June we made a commitment to develop a shared vision for Canada's children. Today we are delivering on that commitment. This vision shows that we all have a role to play to make sure children, as our most precious resource, are our collective priority."
Minister Wiens said, "This is an invitation to Canadians to help us develop a vision for children in our society in which they are valued, cared for, and given the opportunity to achieve their potential. Creating and fulfilling this vision requires the participation of all parts of our society."
Canada's Health Minister Allan Rock, who shares federal reponsibility for children's issues and the NCA with Minister Pettigrew, said "Children are our future. Moving forward together on a National Children's Agenda will help us ensure that our kids will have the best possible start in life. This initiative confirms that the health, quality of life and future of Canada's children is a shared priority for all jurisdictions."
Ministers emphasized that there is considerable common ground for a National Children's Agenda, and this is reflected in the ideas set out in the Vision document. They said that progress can be made by building on the important work that is already occurring across the country, including collaboration on the National Child Benefit.
Ministers also released a supplementary paper, Measuring Child Well-being and Monitoring Progress, which explores ways in which governments and Canadians can measure the progress of our children and share effective practices to improve their well-being.
The papers, which are the result of extensive consultations among federal, provincial and territorial governments and national Aboriginal organizations, will launch a dialogue with Canadians. Canadians are invited to participate in this dialogue by obtaining copies of the documents from a toll-free number 1-800-361-6392 or the National Children's Agenda Web site at www.children-enfants.org. These services will give Canadians information on how to contribute their views in the coming months. In addition, federal, provincial and territorial governments will jointly conduct a number of round tables with stakeholders and interested citizens.
A National Children's Agenda: Developing a Shared Vision benefitted from input by the five national Aboriginal organizations, and includes a perspective on children's issues, written in their own voice. "There are compelling reasons for Aboriginal people to participate as more than half of the Aboriginal population is made up of children, a trend counter to Canadian demographics," the document states.
The launch of a public dialogue on a NCA reflects the commitments made by governments in the Social Union Framework agreement to ensure that Canadians participate in developing social priorities and that governments share information on successes in their jurisdictions.
* The Government of Quebec agrees with the objectives of the National Children's Agenda, but has decided not to participate in its development.
For more information, media may contact:
Office of Minister Pettigrew
Office of Minister Rock
Saskatchewan Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs