The CDPDJ comments on the Laurent Commission's report: the best interests of the child must come first
Montréal, May 3, 2021 — The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (CDPDJ) shares the objectives set out by the Laurent Commission in its report made public today and points out that the findings are similar to those it has made on numerous occasions over the past 25 years. However, the CDPDJ questions the legal effects of the proposed Charter of Children's Rights, that would be distinct from the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, but welcomes the creation of a Commissioner for Children's Welfare and Rights who would speak on behalf of children, insofar as it would be complementary to its own role of investigation and monitoring, among others.
"This report gives us a comprehensive view of the positive strengths and gaps in the system that we have consistently identified over the past decades," said Suzanne Arpin, the Commission's Vice-Chair for the youth mandate. The Commission also welcomes the inclusion of specific considerations for Aboriginal children, racialized children and children with disabilities, which also echoes its own interventions. With respect to the recommendations made, the CDPDJ insists on the importance of analyzing them in terms of the best interests of the child.
"Children are people in their own right and must be given a voice: it is in this perspective that the CDPDJ has been acting for more than 40 years to protect and promote the rights of Quebec's children and youth, especially the most vulnerable children whose situation has been reported to the DYP. In this sense, we can only be in favour of adding a child protector who would stand up for children, who would be their spokesperson and representative, and who would give them an important place in its operations," Ms. Arpin also stated. The CDPDJ sees this function as a complement to its own role and powers of investigation and monitoring in matters of youth rights, which are the envy of many child advocates in other provinces. The same is true for the possibility of using the levers of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. "This specificity of Quebec deserves to be preserved," concluded the vice-president responsible for the youth mandate.
In the same vein, the CDPDJ is concerned that the proposed Charter of Children's Rights will lead to inconsistent interpretations of children's rights and will hinder a cross-analysis and reading of laws recognizing their rights.
As for the actions to be prioritized, the CDPDJ believes that prevention must first be strengthened by front-line services, with the necessary investments for the well-being of children. Indeed, like the Laurent Commission, the CDPDJ has observed that over the years, prevention services have deteriorated and that most requests for services for children and families in difficulty now enter through the DYP bottleneck, which creates an increase in cases that could have been handled elsewhere. The specialized services of the DYP should be reserved for situations where parents cannot ensure the safety and development of their children.
Finally, the CDPDJ is pleased to see that its expertise is recognized in the Laurent Commission report, which relies on it in many places. Many of the recommendations made by the CDPDJ over the years are also included in the report. The CDPDJ hopes that this will help ensure that they are finally implemented.
For more information concerning the brief submitted by the CDPDJ at the Commission Laurent : www.cdpdj.qc.ca/fr/nos-positions/recommandations/commission-laurent (French only)
The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Human Rights and Youth Commission) ensures the promotion and respect of the principles set out in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It also ensures that the interests of children are protected and that their rights recognized in the Youth Protection Act are respected and promoted. In addition, the Commission oversees compliance with the Act respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies.
Coordonnatrice aux communications