Policy Work

As the voice for vulnerable children in Canada, the CWLC actively advocates for public policies, legislation and funding, to achieve a supportive, respectful, effective, coordinated, rational and accountable system of support for children and families.

  • We work with national, provincial/territorial, local and Aboriginal organizations to identify shared goals and initiatives.
  • We strive to ensure that our members and their causes remain on the agendas of elected officials, their political staff, and senior government officials.
  • We monitor public policy and legislative activities, propose effective and accessible initiatives, and thereby help to shape child welfare and youth justice in Canada.

In this section you can view the policy initiatives undertaken by CWLC, often in partnership with others, on behalf of children and families.

Help us help you! CWLC welcomes member participation in our policy work. If you have a policy issue or initiative we should know about, please contact us: info@cwlc.ca


Our priority issues

Adoption & Foster Care

Bill C-10 Safe Streets and Communities Act

Violence Prevention 

Youth Transitions

  • CWLC Policy Brief coming soon

Child Protection through Social Development


The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal releases its immediate relief remedies, including the full implementation of Jordan's Principle

In a landmark ruling released in January 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the Canadian government was racially discriminating against 163,000 First Nations children living on reserve. Among the remedies is the full implementation of Jordan's Principle. 

Click here for more information about Jordan’s Principle for the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society https://fncaringsociety.com/jordans-principle

Click here for the CHRT Immediate Relief Remedies document https://fncaringsociety.com/sites/default/files/CHRT%20Remedies%202016.pdf

CASW Encouraged by Tribunal Ruling on Jordan’s Principle

The Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW) is deeply encouraged by yesterday’s Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering the federal government to enact Jordan’s Principle, giving the Department of Indigenous Affairs two weeks to confirm that the policy has been implemented.

Jordan’s Principle, a child-first policy that would ensure First Nations children’s health and welfare is not impacted by intergovernmental or jurisdictional disputes, was passed unanimously in House of Commons in 2007. The 94 Calls to Action advanced by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s (TRC) called for the immediate implementation of the Principle as well.

 “We are absolutely pleased by the Tribunal’s Ruling to enact Jordan’s Principle,” said CASW President Morel Caissie. “The acknowledgment that First Nations children’s health and safety takes precedence over any jurisdictional spat is egregiously overdue, and we are confident the Department of Indigenous Affairs will act responsibly and enact the policy immediately.”

In addition to supporting Jordan’s Principle, CASW has called for the Government of to uphold all of the TRC’s recommendations and make true reconciliation a priority, and to end its underfunding of child welfare services for First Nations children.

While CASW appreciates the $71 million earmarked for First Nations child welfare in the first year of the budget, CASW echoes the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s concern that this amount still falls short of what is required to restore equity and fairness.

“We are encouraged by this step to uphold one of the TRC’s Calls to Action,” added Mr. Caissie, “but it is only one step of the many remaining in addressing the inequities facing First Nations in Canada.”

 Fred Phelps

CASW, Executive Director


CWLC Speaks Out on Federal Support Measures to Adoptive Parents 

CWLC appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on December 14, 2010 to present our views on Federal Support Measures to Adoptive Parents.
Peter Dudding, CWLC chief executive officer, spoke on behalf of CWLC. He highlighted a number of recommendations:

  • Knowledge Exchange Centre on Family-Based Care
  • Improve the current capacity of SUFA (Social Union Framework Agreement) and include consultation with Aboriginal peoples
  • Enhance Prevention Fund for First Nations
  • Establish a Federal Child and Youth Advisory Committee
  • Coordinate Federal Child and Family Program Activities

Joint Letter by CWLC and UNICEF Canada

On October 20, 2010, CWLC and UNICEF Canada sent a joint letter to Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, and opposition party critics Olivia Chow, Thierry St-Cyr and Justin Trudeau on the proposed amendments to Canada's Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

CWLC and UNICEF Canada want to ensure that the proposed amendments are a reasonable and proportionate response to genuine concerns, and that the proposed amendments do not infringe, but uphold the rights of children who seek immigrant and refugee status here in Canada. It was strongly recommend that the proposed amendments, and subsequent changes to regulations and applied practices, be grounded in existing conventions and guidelines that protect the rights and best interests of children.

Please click here for a copy of the letter.

Alberta government strengthening child intervention system

The Government of Alberta has accepted 10 recommendations made by a panel of specialists from across the country asked to examine Alberta's child intervention system and to bring forward leading practices and ways the system can be strengthened to support at-risk children, youth and families. The panel's 14 recommendations were set out in four themes: services for Aboriginal Albertans, quality assurance, capacity to implement change, and governance.

Government evaluated the panel's recommendations based on the potential for improved outcomes for children and youth, effective allocation of resources, and the ability to enhance accountability and transparency. Work has begun to implement the accepted recommendations.

Four panel recommendations were not accepted because they focused primarily on major structural and organizational change that would require significant resources to implement, and were not aligned with findings from other government-commissioned reviews.

The panel included specialists in the fields of child intervention, health, mental health, justice and services for Aboriginal people. It was co-chaired by Dr. Nico Trocmé, Philip Fisher Chair in Social Work at McGill University and Scientific Director of the Canadian Centre of Excellence in Child Welfare; and Peter Dudding, Executive Director of the Child Welfare League of Canada (CWLC).

The complete report and recommendations, and the government's response, are available at www.child.alberta.ca/cisreview.

World Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents

To mobilize key actors worldwide once again to protect children more effectively from sexual exploitation, the government of Brazil, ECPAT, UNICEF and the NGO Group took on the task of organising the third Congress that was held on November 25-28 2008, in Rio de Janeiro.

The Draft Outcome document is the first draft eminating from the World Congress III; It was based on inputs gathered through regional and thematic preparatory meetings that were organised around the world. Regional preparatory meetings were held in six regions (Latin America, North America, Europe and CIS, East Asia and Pacific, Africa, South Asia) with the involvement and participation of government, civil society, UN agencies, children and adolescents, NGOs, private sector, academia and others. In addition several technical expert meetings, focused on specialized areas of the Congress, were also held over the past year. In all instances these forums provided opportunities for a focused and in-depth analysis and discussion of the key areas of the Congress and resulted in the articulation of specific recommendations for future action. In various regional meetings children and adolescents complemented the general recommendations with their specific proposals.

In addition each of the Congress organizers commissioned expert thematic papers which were presented to the Congress. These provided another source and foundation for analysis, planning on the action to be taken for guaranteeing the right to protection against sexual exploitation for all children. The thematic papers also provided another source of recommendations which have been consulted and integrated in this first draft of the outcome document.

Download the first draft of the Outcome Document.

Violence Prevention Alliance

The Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) Annual Meeting was held on 2-3 December 2008 in Washington, DC, USA and CWLC was represented by Executive Director Peter Dudding. The meeting was hosted by the Pan American Health organization (PAHO) and opened by PAHO's Director Dr Mirta Roses-Periago. The 58 meeting participants included representatives from most of the VPA's 38 participant organizations, and observers from international and regional organizations, private foundations, and governments. The three main achievements of the meeting were: developing a strategy to generate political priority for violence prevention, preparing a plan for VPA participants to raise violence prevention on the agendas of Official Development Assistance agencies, and adopting three priorities for VPA work in 2009-2012. These priorities are: strengthening intersectoral collaboration for violence prevention (starting with enhanced public health and criminal justice/policing collaboration), enhancing national and local level violence prevention capacity, and developing a systematic approach to advocacy using narratives about how experiences of violence have shaped the lives of violence prevention professionals. CWLC will continue keep our members up-to-date on this initiative.

Global Thematic Consultation on Corporate Social Responsibility (Winnipeg, MB)

Co-hosted by CWLC, UNICEF Canada, Canadian Red Cross and Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement

This preparatory event, for the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, focused on the role of the private/corporate sector and corporate social responsibility. Thematic preparatory meetings were held in all regions, bringing together key stakeholders and partners, to discuss recommendations and time-bound goals, identify gaps and strategies, shape the Congress agenda and panel selection, and provide input into the thematic papers.

At the preparatory meeting in Winnieg, key aspects surrounding the commercial sexual exploitation of children and youth were discussed, in particular the inclusion of the private sector – businesses, their suppliers and clients – as a partner in preventing further exploitation and abuse. Further goals included highlighting challenges; identifying good practices and exemplary responses; strategizing around new opportunities to curb the sexual exploitation through collaborative initiatives; and discussing recommendations and time-bound goals. Four panels were presented: norms and partnerships, travel and tourism, IT and finance, and the sexualisation of children.

You can download the program.

The Roundtable Discussion and Action Proposals are available for download.
The presentations from the Consultation are also available for download from UNICEF Canada's website. (scroll down for Consultation documents).

These results will contribute to the Science Program at the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents. The World Congress III will be structured around 5 themes:
Theme 1 – Commercial sexual exploitation and emerging challenges
Theme 2 - Legal frameworks and enforcement
Theme 3 – Integrated and cross-sectoral policies
Theme 4 – Corporate social responsibility (Winnipeg, MB meeting)
Theme 5 – International cooperation strategies

CWLC is committed to working with its members and partner organizations to develop a national plan of action to address the issues surrounding the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and youth. Results from World Congress III and the next steps will be made available here on the CWLC website.

The World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from November 25 - 28, 2008. Visit the website for more details.

National Invitational Symposium on Youth Justice Renewal

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), working in partnership with the CWLC and on behalf of the Coalition on Community Safety, Health and Well-being, received funding from Justice Canada to hold the National Invitational Symposium on Youth Justice Renewal from 27-28 March 2008.  This national consultation brought together representatives of police services and organizations involved in child welfare, education, youth services, health and mental health, corrections, recreation, Aboriginal youth services, youth engagement and victim advocacy.  The symposium report compiles the  views expressed by this diverse group of stakeholders and offers suggestions for consideration by Justice Canada in its current review of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Le rapport est aussi disponible en français.

Report on National Invitational Symposium on Youth Justice Renewal 
TAB 1: Participants
TAB 2: The Youth Criminal Justice Act: Summary and Background (website)
             Proposed Amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act (website)
             Spiralling Out of Control (MS Word)
             D/Chief Christopher McNeill to Sandra Wright, 20 March 2008
             D/Chief Christopher McNeill to Chief Frank Beazley, 17 January 2006
             Peter M. Dudding, Executive Director, CWLC to the Honourable Rob Nicholson, 2 January 2008 
TAB 3: Agenda
TAB 4: Evaluation Report (MS Word)
TAB 5: Biographies  (MS Word)


Violence Prevention