Statement by Minister Paradis on World Day Against Child Labour

June 12, 2014 – No child should be deprived of their right to go to school, to play and to live a healthy and dignified life. Yet, too many are robbed of their childhood by child labour. Instead of going to school, these children spend long hours performing harmful and dangerous tasks—spraying pesticides, operating heavy machinery, or digging for precious metals with their bare hands—to help support their families, or in the worst case scenarios, themselves.

In 2012, there were 100 million boys and 68 million girls involved in child labour, some as young as five years old. Of these children, about half were involved in hazardous labour that could cause illness, injury, mental trauma or death. In its most extreme forms, child labour involves slavery, illicit activities such as drug trafficking and prostitution, and involvement in armed conflict. Children who are orphaned or separated from their families are most vulnerable to this kind of exploitation and abuse.

No child should have to grow up this way. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting children and eliminating harmful child labour. We work in collaboration with international partners, such as the International Labour Organization, to combat child labour around the world.

Through its Children and Youth Strategy, Canada works to ensure that children of all ages grow up to be healthy and productive adults. Our efforts on maternal, newborn and child health, Canada's top development priority, help children get the vaccinations, nutrition and health services they need to survive and thrive from birth to their fifth birthday.  But we cannot abandon them then. That is why we work with developing countries to develop child protection systems that ensure the safety and security of every girl and boy. It is also why we are improving access to key services, including quality education and learning opportunities, to help children and youth engage as positive and productive members of society. Finally, we are urging governments to strengthen their legislation, policies and regulatory frameworks to protect the safety of working children and prevent the worst forms of child labour.

On this day, Canada reaffirms its commitment to protect all children from discrimination, violence and exploitation, including the worst forms of child labour, and to help them access essential services like health and education so they can get the best possible start in life.

The Honourable Christian Paradis
Minister of International Development and La Francophonie