CONCLUSION

The Law Commission has provided us with an informative and valuable report on the very important issue of child abuse in Canadian institutions. The report illustrates the Law Commission's role as an independent advisor to the Government of Canada on legal issues. The Commission's analysis is also an important resource to all levels of government as well as other public and social institutions to understand the complex issues involved, and to find effective and sensitive solutions in ongoing efforts to address child abuse.

The Commission's report provides the Government of Canada with an opportunity to take stock of where we stand in light of its overall findings. It is encouraging that the values and concerns that emerge from this study are very much in line with those of the Government. Also, it is evident that many of our programs and efforts are being directed at the real problems, and there is reason to believe that progress is being made.

The Government of Canada shares the Commission's concerns about the incidents of child abuse in Canadian institutions and has declared the well being of all children to be a top priority. To this end, we are constantly working to make Canada a safer place for children to live and grow up in. We are striving to do this by ensuring that our policies, legislation and programs are in the best interests of children.

We have put into place a number of programs and measures that contribute to the prevention of child abuse, make the criminal justice system more responsive to victims, and address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse in Indian residential schools.

We share the Law Commission's commitment to the importance of protecting children and, for their better protection, we have implemented a variety of preventive measures. Collectively, these measures help lay the basis for their emotional, social and intellectual health later in life, raise public awareness of child abuse, provide better information and research on child abuse to policy makers, address crime and revictimization, improve the screening of people working with children, and increase children's awareness of potentially abusive situations. We have also introduced new legislation to combat the sexual exploitation of children at the national and international level.

A continuing priority of the Government is to improve the experience of victims of crime in the criminal justice process, also a key concern of the Commission. Over the years, we have put into place a variety of Criminal Code protections for victims that help facilitate their participation in giving testimony, make their safety a primary consideration in bail decisions, and allow them to participate in the sentencing process by submitting a victim impact statement. Recently, the Government has introduced legislation to protect victims at preliminary inquiries, undertaken consultations on better protections for children under the criminal law and in criminal proceedings, concluded an Early Childhood Development agreement with the provinces and territories, and amended the Criminal Records Act to enhance the ability of police to better explore the criminal backgrounds of dangerous persons seeking to work with children. A Policy Centre for Victim Issues has also been established to ensure that the victim's perspective is taken into account in policy development.

The insights in the Commission's report will also help to inform the Government of Canada's ongoing work with survivors and the churches to find responsible, sensitive and fair ways to address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse in Indian residential schools. Consistent with the Commission's recommendations, the Government is currently working with residential school survivors, and, where possible, co-defendant churches, to build models that can provide more appropriate responses to claims relating to abuse at residential schools. The Government is also working actively with the churches to find ways that we can work together to address our shared responsibilities for abuse that occurred in the schools.

The Government of Canada believes that the cumulative effect of our actions in support of children, often in partnership with the provinces and territories, will contribute to their overall safety and well being. Many of these actions try to address the root causes that place children at risk while others provide remedies for those who have been harmed. In all cases, it is our intention to maintain and put into place the strongest support we can to ensure that children lead healthy, productive and secure lives.

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