Government of Canada today announced the release of A Canada Fit for Children

The Government of Canada today announced the release of A Canada Fit for Children , its official response to the commitments made on May 10, 2002, at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children. A Canada Fit for Children re-affirms the importance that all sectors of Canadian society-governments, organizations and individuals-place on children. In particular, A Canada Fit for Children re-affirms the Government's commitment to making children and families a national priority and to continue to work with governments, stakeholders and the public. The Government's investment in major initiatives for children and families currently exceeds $13 billion per year.

Senator Landon Pearson, who was instrumental in developing the document, submitted it to the United Nations in New York City on April 22, 2004, on behalf of the Government of Canada. “ A Canada Fit for Children is the result of input from thousands of Canadians, including young people, who have a common interest in the rights and well-being of children,” said Senator Pearson.

"Canada's national plan of action is among the first from industrialized countries and it demonstrates the value of involving children and young people, as well as civil society, in

national strategies," said Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of UNICEF, which is the lead agency for children and secretariat for the follow-up to the United Nations Special Session on Children. "Canada continues to be an effective and long-time voice for children and their rights in the international arena."

A Canada Fit for Children re-affirms our vision, goals and on-going efforts to build a Canada where all children have an opportunity to reach their full potential,” said the Honourable Liza Frulla, Minister of Social Development. “As we saw in the 2004 Budget, the Government of Canada is increasing its investments in supports for children and families to address child poverty and increase access to the quality early learning and child care programs that we know can make a real difference. This complements the annual funding we provide to help provinces and territories to improve and expand early childhood development programs and services.”

“Canadians want to ensure that their children are able to grow up healthy, with dignity and in peace,” said the Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Health. “Promoting the health and well-being of Canada's children is a key priority for the Government of Canada. The recent federal Budget provided $300 million for a national immunization strategy that would support the provinces and territories in providing recommended vaccines to children.”

The Government of Canada, in partnership with provinces, territories and stakeholders, has made many significant investments over the past decade to ensure that the needs of children and families are supported. Federal/provincial/territorial initiatives include the National Child Benefit, the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Agreement and the Multilateral Framework on Early Learning and Child Care.

A Canada Fit for Children is consistent with Canada's National Children's Agenda, which continues to be the framework under which governments, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders work together on behalf of children.

“At the United Nations Special Session on Children in 2002, countries committed to a series of goals to change the situation of children,” added the Honourable Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs. “With this plan, Canada builds on the agenda of the Special Session, ensuring that the interests of children everywhere remain a priority.” A Canada Fit for Children re-affirms Canada's commitment to the broader goals of A World Fit for Children , the global declaration and plan of action adopted unanimously by the nations of the world at the UN Special Session on Children in May 2002.

The Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew, Minister of State (Children and Youth) also expressed her support. “It is up to each of us to make sure that our children can acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be tomorrow's leaders. A Canada Fit for Children calls upon all Canadians to consider how they could contribute to improving the lives of children.”

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child , Canada is committed to ensuring that the best interests of its children are considered in all its programs and policies. A Canada Fit for Children confirms our commitment to the Convention.

Senator Pearson is holding an event on Parliament Hill on May 10, 2004, to commemorate the second anniversary of the United Nations Special Session on Children and to raise awareness of Canada's response: A Canada Fit for Children.

A Canada Fit for Children is available at www.sdc.ca, www.hc-sc.gc.ca and http://sen.parl.gc.ca/lpearson. For more information on the National Children's Agenda, visit www.socialunion.ca and for more information on the Convention on the Rights of the Child , visit www.pch.gc.ca/progs/pdp-hrp/docs/crc_e.cfm.

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