On May 17 and 18, 2022, Canada was reviewed in front of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to report on its progress in implementing and upholding the Convention on the Rights of the Child. On June 9, 2022, the Committee released its concluding observations on how Canada is doing and what areas need special attention.
Action Canada welcomes two recommendations on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) outlined in the concluding observations. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on Canada to:
- strengthen sexual and reproductive health programmes and services to all adolescents, paying particular attention to prevention of unwanted pregnancies, support to pregnant girls and adolescent parents and to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
- take immediate measures to ensure equal access to evidence-based comprehensive sexuality education across provinces and territories in line with national guidelines for sexual health education and international human rights obligations.
Canada is now required to report to the Committee during its next review on what actions it has taken to implement these recommendations. This is an important advocacy win for civil society organizations participating in this process, including Action Canada, as the Government of Canada has repeatedly shirked its responsibilities on sex-ed and adolescent SRHR. The federal government has received a clear message that it must take action to ensure equitable access to comprehensive sexuality education across the country.
Strengthening sexual and reproductive health programmes and ensuring equal access to comprehensive sexuality education across the country a critical part of upholding the human rights of children and young people in Canada. It will also have an impact on other recommendations made by the Committee including the prevention of gender-based violence.
In collaboration with civil society, youth-led organizations, young people, and experts, it is time for Canada to take meaningful steps to improve the state of SRHR for everyone across the country.