Provincial table to protect rights of children and youth
Today, the Province of Prince Edward Island announced the creation of the PEI Children and Youth Table to promote and protect the rights of children and youth during COVID-19 while the province awaits the formal appointment of the independent Child and Youth Advocate and enacting of the Child and Youth Advocate Act.
“Promoting and protecting the rights of children and youth is a responsibility shared by all Islanders. During this pandemic, now, more than ever, is a time for us to come together and to look out for our Island children and youth. By working together with our valued partners across all sectors, guided by the active participation of Island children and youth, we will ensure PEI’s children and youth are heard and involved in finding our way through this unprecedented time.”
- Premier Dennis King
The mandate of the PEI Children and Youth Table is to engage children and youth, including children in care and in provincial facilities, to identify issues and potential solutions to areas of concern related to children and youth on Prince Edward Island, as well as review programs developed in response to COVID-19 using a child rights-based approach to identify potential challenges. The efforts of the provincial table will be guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Staff of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate are delighted to support this child-centered collaborative response to protecting PEI children and youth during this global COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides a valuable framework to guide this important initiative,” said Rona Smith, Executive Director for Office of the Child and Youth Advocate.
Key objectives of the provincial table include:
- Establish the need and priorities for children and youth;
- Address gaps and areas of concern related to children and youth;
- Identify supportive structures and processes for children and youth;
- Facilitate assessment and engagement; and,
- Ensure monitoring evaluation and reporting related to matters concerning children and youth.
The PEI Children and Youth Table will work within the legislative and regulatory practices that are currently in place within Prince Edward Island, while finding opportunities for efficiency and enhancement until the Child and Youth Advocate is appointed. Upon appointment, the future of any formal structure/group would then be under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate and the independent office will have authority over scope, membership, roles and functions thereafter.
The PEI Children and Youth Table is chaired by MLA Karla Bernard, opposition critic for Education and Lifelong Learning and Status of Women. Natalie Jameson, Minister of Environment, Water & Climate Change, Minister Responsible for Status of Women, and Minister Responsible for Charlottetown serves as vice-chair. MLA Gordon McNeilly serves as the Third Party’s representative. Other members include child and youth participants, staff of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate, and representatives from government departments and community agencies providing services to children, youth and their families.
“I am thrilled to be named chair of this new Child and Youth Table. Young Islanders have been uniquely impacted by COVID-19 and this non-partisan table will serve as an important bridge to promote and protect the rights of PEI’s children and youth until the appointment of Prince Edward Island’s first independent Child and Youth Advocate,” said Karla Bernard, Opposition Critic for Education and Lifelong Learning and the Status of Women.
“Listening to children and youth and engaging their views on how COVID-19 is affecting them is critical to help guide us through this challenging time in our families, in our communities and across our province,” said Sonny Gallant, Leader of the Third Party.
Executive Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Office of the Premier