Federal, provincial and territorial governments
Federal, provincial and territorial governments* today released a discussion paper that will be an important tool in developing a National Children's Agenda. A National Children's Agenda: Developing a Shared Vision sets out for the consideration of all Canadians a common vision, values, goals and areas for action that can help all parts of society focus on children's needs.
Joan Marie Aylward, Minister of Health and Community Services, and the province's representative on the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal, participated in the Saskatoon news conference which launched the dialogue process. Minister Aylward said: "I am confident that today is the start of a process which will lead to a common set of goals and priorities which will improve children's futures. We all want a society where all children grow up to be responsible, productive, healthy and caring - a society where no child gets left behind".
Ministers also released a supplementary paper, Measuring Child Well-being and Monitoring Progress, which explores ways in which governments can work together to measure the progress of Canada's children and share effective practices to improve their well-being.
In releasing the discussion documents, ministers emphasized that the goal of a National Children's Agenda will be to ensure that all Canadian children have the best possible opportunity to realize their full potential. The papers are the result of extensive consultations between federal, provincial and territorial governments and National Aboriginal Organizations. The launch of a public dialogue on a National Children's Agenda 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 successful practices and programs in their jurisdictions.
Canadians are invited to participate in the 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, which are operational as of today, will give Canadians information on how to contribute their views in the coming months. At the end of the dialogue process in September, 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 Canadian children.
Minister Aylward said: "The Atlantic province's roundtable and a citizen's focus group will be held in St. John's on June 14-15. With our Strategic Social Plan in place, we are well-positioned to incorporate the National Children's Agenda into the implementation phase of our process, including the social audit component".
Contact: Glenn Bruce, Director of Communications, (709) 729-1377.
A National Children's Agenda:
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?
VALUES: What do we believe about our children?
GOALS: What do we hope to achieve?
What can we do to meet our goals?
How will we measure success?
A National Children's Agenda:
To invite Canadians to think about what they want for Canada's children, governments across Canada have published a paper called A National Children's Agenda - Developing a Shared Vision. It proposes a common vision for Canada=s children and sets out the goals we hope to achieve in order to turn our vision into reality.
But turning a vision into reality demands that we find some meaningful yardsticks for success. We need to figure out how to measure the well-being of children. We must also agree to report regularly on our findings, so that we will know where we are making progress, and where we need to focus more attention.
And because federal, provincial and territorial governments already offer a wide range of programs and services for families and children, it makes sense to share information on what works and build on the successful experiences of governments and the non-governmental community.
A supplementary discussion paper, A National Children's Agenda - Measuring Child Well-being and Monitoring Progress, suggests ways to measure the well-being of Canada's children and to monitor our progress in improving their lives. It also encourages us to share effective practices so that we can better realize our goals.
The Proposed Vision for a National Children=s Agenda
The Proposed Goals for our Shared Vision
How will we measure success?
Step One - Deciding What to Measure
Governments talk of "indicators," which are simply things we can measure. There are essentially two categories of indicators to help us monitor whether we are achieving our goals: those that tell us about the child, and those that tell us about the surroundings that influence his or her well-being.
Examples of Indicators
About the child:
About the child's surroundings:
No one has yet come up with the definitive list of indicators that would give us a perfect snapshot of the state of Canada's children. Still, we have a pretty good idea of what makes some indicators better than others. For instance, good indicators should be:
Step Two - Tracking Our Progress
When it comes to monitoring our progress in achieving our goals for Canada's children, the sensible place to begin is with the wealth of data that already exists.
Existing Data Sources
Many governments, organizations and communities collect excellent information about children. In recent years, the amount and quality of these data have improved greatly. We would therefore be wise to begin our work with the information we have, and fill in knowledge gaps over time.
At the same time, we need to promote research into areas we know are not well understood. For example, we need better knowledge about the processes of child development. There are also too little data about the well-being of Aboriginal children.
Ways to Share Information
Step Three - Sharing Effective Practices
From universal health care and education to child protection, recreation programs, income supports and child care, governments in Canada already provide a wide range of services to children and their families.
In developing programs and policies for children, governments can learn from the experiences of others. That is why governments* want to explore ways to profile successful initiatives in their own and other jurisdictions, across a variety of sectors (such as health, justice, education and social services) and within the non-governmental community.
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 comments: in writing, at National Children's Agenda, 280 Albert Street, 10th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 5G8.
Written comments can also be submitted through the interactive National Children's Agenda Web site at www.children-enfants.org.
Views can also be provided 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.
* 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, 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.
1999 05 07 2:50 p.m.