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    Canada: A country committed to abuse prevention and protection!

    Happy 150 Years Canada July 10, 2017 Melodie Bissell
    Filed Under:
    Policies and Procedures, Abuse Awareness

    This year marks a special anniversary for Canada, as we celebrate our 150th birthday as a Nation. In honour of the occasion, we wanted to do a shout out to Canadians for their efforts protecting the vulnerable sector over the last 50 years. 

    Our Government is committed to the well-being of Canada's children and youth. As a result, it has undertaken, often in partnership with provincial and territorial governments, some child and family-oriented initiatives to work towards the goal of ensuring that children have the opportunity to develop their full potential. Many of these initiatives focus on the needs of children and families at risk while combining prevention measures with elements of intervention, education, and information.

    In 1948, the United Nations set a universal standard for human rights with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Children (under age 18) also have specific rights, recognized in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (of which Canada is a signatory), given their vulnerability and dependence.

    The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out these rights in 54 articles and in a set of Optional Protocols including a commitment to their protection (e.g., from abuse, exploitation, and harmful substances, and specific protections and provisions for vulnerable populations such as Aboriginal children and children with disabilities

    In 1994, the Department of the Solicitor General developed and implemented a National Screening System in consultation with provincial and territorial governments and organizations responsible for the care and protection of children. This system screens prospective volunteers and employees who wish to work with children in positions of authority. It includes the use of criminal record checks conducted by the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), and can also help organizations screen out known convicted sex offenders.

    In 1996, the Insurance Standard Bureau in Canada made a bold move.  Recognizing that churches, schools, camps and other organizations that serve the vulnerable sector are susceptible to abuse, they recommended a standard abuse exclusion clause be added to commercial, personal injury abuse policies.  This exclusion clause is now standard language in insurance policies.  The only way to have it removed is for the organization to demonstrate that they are meeting criteria to reduce the risk of abuse.  Today, agencies are diligently implementing abuse prevention protocols to qualify for abuse coverage - this means a much safer Canada.

    In 1996, Plan to Protect® was first written under the umbrella of The Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches in Canada and was quickly adopted by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.  Currently, over 14 denominations have adopted Plan to Protect® as their standard of child and youth abuse prevention and protection protocols.

    To protect our children, we are obliged to impose the highest standards on those who have contact with them through their work or through volunteer activities. Volunteer screening is an important tool in striving towards this goal. To this end, the Government of Canada supports the work of non-governmental organizations that work diligently and expertly to protect children.

    In 2000, Canada promised to "spare no effort" to fulfill the Millennium Sustainable Development Goals, in collaboration with 188 other nations. Since that time, Millennium Kids have been calling Canada to action to fulfill their promises and to participate in social justice issues.

    In August 2000, amendments to the Criminal Records Act enhanced the ability of police to thoroughly explore the criminal background of  persons seeking to work with children. Police can now flag the records of pardoned sex offenders on the CPIC registry to allow the unsealing of such records in regard to applications for child-sensitive positions. This makes the screening process more reliable, and better protects communities from convicted sex offenders.

    Each province and territory has established legislation on child protection.

    In March 2001, the Government introduced Bill C-15, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, to better protect children from sexual exploitation. This legislation modernized the existing child pornography Criminal Code offenses to respond effectively to new technologies. People who prey on the vulnerabilities of children will not be allowed to hide in the anonymous forum of the Internet. These amendments also fulfilled Canada's commitment to the United Nations to make it a crime to export child pornography.

    In 2004, Canada launched the New Horizons for Seniors Program, a Federal Grant, and Contributions program that supports projects led or inspired by seniors who make a difference in the lives of others and in their communities. Included in this initiative is a call to raise the awareness of Elder Abuse.

    A few of our members have partnered with Plan to Protect® to apply for a grant to help educate their community around the issues of Elder Abuse and to raise the bar on protecting the elderly within non-government programs and organizations.

    In 2007, Plan to Protect® the company, was founded, and adapted the church resources for schools, associations, clubs, community centers and municipalities.

    In 2010, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    In 2012, the government put pardons out of reach for many former offenders. The measures included doubling the crime-free waiting period to 10 years before a serious offender could apply to suspend indictable convictions, and to five years from three for summary offenses; disqualifying anyone with more than three convictions for indictable offenses from ever being able to apply; and disqualifying convicts of child sex offenses from ever being able to apply.

    In 2017, over 10,000 organizations with the help of Plan to Protect® continue to strive for the HIGHEST STANDARD of protection.

    Throughout the past 50 years, Canadians have made great improvements to achieving a HIGH STANDARD of protection. 

    However, we still have a lot of work to do.  We cannot rest on our laurels.  We must humbly acknowledge over the course of our history we have also contributed to the pain and suffering of victims of abuse.  Nothing speaks to this as much as the historical abuse of the residential schools.  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission created a historical record of the residential school's system. As part of this process, the Government of Canada provided over five million records to the TRC. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba will house all of the documents collected by the TRC.

    The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history, began to be implemented in 2007. One of the elements of the agreement was the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to facilitate reconciliation among former students, their families, their communities and all Canadians.

    Between 2007 and 2015, the Government of Canada provided about $72 million to support the TRC's work.

    In June 2015, the TRC held its Closing Event in Ottawa and presented the Executive Summary of the findings contained in its multi-volume Final Report, including 94 "calls to action" (or recommendations) to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples.

    In December 2015, the TRC released its entire six-volume Final Report. All Canadians are encouraged to read the summary or the Final Report to learn more about the terrible history of Indian Residential Schools and its sad legacy.

    I truly believe we must continue to tell the stories of abuse and give ear to victim-survivors of abuse so that we do not repeat history.  We must continue to educate ourselves and future generations, whether that abuse has occurred in churches and parishes, schools and daycares, community clubs, camps or within our own homes and families. As Canadians, we must raise up and fulfill the promises we have made to protect our children, young people, elderly, those with disabilities, vulnerable adults, and new immigrants.

     Thank you, Canada! Happy Birthday! May the next 150 years be much safer and may God heal our land!

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