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e-3756 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Kelly Milner from Whitehorse, Yukon

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons

  • Research shows institutionalizing children has devastating long-term physical, emotional and social impacts;
  • Of the 5.4 million children currently living in orphanages worldwide, 80 percent have a living relative who could care for them;
  • In low-income countries, foreign donations, volunteering and orphanage tourism create profit that drives a demand separating children from families and into institutions;
  • Countries allowing flow of volunteers and donations to foreign orphanages undermine other nations’ child protection systems and may inadvertently enable child rights violations;
  • Canada ratified the UN General Assembly’s Convention on the Rights of the Child including an additional 2019 resolution calling for the end of orphanages and institutionalized care for children;
  • Article 35(t) urges all States to begin “enacting and enforcing legislation to prevent and combat the trafficking and exploitation of children in care facilities and address the harms related to volunteering programs in orphanages, including in the context of tourism, which can lead to trafficking and exploitation”; and
  • As a signatory to this resolution, Canada must act to address our role in supporting orphanage systems and the exploitation of children around the world.
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to instruct the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to study:
1. Canada’s commitments under the Convention of the Rights of the Child to address child exploitation in orphanages and recommend actions to meet them to the government; and
2. The advisability of a Canadian travel advisory and information campaign to raise awareness on the damaging impacts of supporting and volunteering in orphanages and promote alternatives.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The promotion and protection of human rights is integral to Canada’s feminist foreign policy. It is because of the unique vulnerability of children that their rights are of priority concern.

Canada played a key role in the negotiations that led to the adoption and ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Canada ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1991, and is also a party to two of the three optional protocols: the optional protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Working closely with our international partners, Canada supports the development of national action plans and the implementation of a child protection systems approach in countries to: implement laws, policies and programs that protect children; change attitudes and social norms that form the roots of gender-based violence, inter-familial violence, and discrimination; help children and adolescents to cope with risks and to seek appropriate support when violence does occur; and, promote and provide support services for children, such as psychological services.

Children account for the vast majority of those exploited for labour and sexual purposes. Canada’s targeted activities include commitments to child protection under the National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. Canada supports programming to prevent the trafficking of children, capacity-building for government and non-governmental actors, education and training programs.

Canada is a leading advocate for increased actions to counter trafficking internationally. As part of this strategy, Global Affairs Canada is implementing an enhanced international engagement approach to better leverage multilateral and bilateral partnerships. Canada will seek to join the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, and the UN Blue Heart Campaign, and is an active participant in Alliance 8.7, a network of government institutions, international and regional organizations, private sector entities and civil society organizations working to eradicate forced labour, human trafficking and child labour.

The Government of Canada issues travel advice and recommendations about safety and security conditions abroad to enable travellers to make their own informed decisions regarding destinations. A Travel Advisory is issued by the Government of Canada when it assesses that the security or health situation in a country or region poses a significant threat to the personal safety and security of Canadians travelling or living there. This could be caused by the threat of terrorism, civil unrest, war, rebellion, a natural disaster, political instability or a health emergency.

The decision to issue, remove, upgrade or downgrade an advisory is made in consultation with the embassy, high commission or consulate of Canada responsible for the destination, as well as with stakeholders from various divisions at Global Affairs Canada. The level is based on an overall assessment of the current security situation.

Global Affairs Canada also provides useful information for different kinds of travellers on, including for international volunteers. This information is provided to help Canadians minimize their safety risk abroad. The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller, and Canadians are responsible for their personal safety abroad.

Open for signature
December 22, 2021, at 3:46 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 21, 2022, at 3:46 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Brendan Hanley (Yukon)
May 13, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00461)
Government response tabled
June 23, 2022
Photo - Brendan Hanley
Liberal Caucus
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