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II. International Protections

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The Supreme Court of Canada has indicated that the values and principles enshrined in international law constitute part of the legal context in which legislation is interpreted and applied.[4] Additionally, human rights commissions have been identified as key institutions in implementing and protecting international human rights standards. Accordingly, the Commission uses applicable international standards in its policy development and to inform its applications and interpretation of the Code.

The needs and rights of persons with familial responsibilities have been recognized in numerous international covenants to which Canada is a signatory, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights[5], the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights[6], the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,[7] the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women,[8] and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.[9]As a signatory to these international human rights instruments, Canada has recognized that the family is a fundamental group unit of society, and has committed to provide the widest possible protection and assistance to the family.

Through these international human rights instruments, Canada has agreed to recognize the particular needs of families with young children, and to render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and to ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.

As well, a number of these covenants recognize the unique role that women continue to play in providing care for families, and require states parties to ensure a proper understanding of maternity as a social function, to promote recognition of the common responsibility of men and women in the upbringing and development of their children, and to take steps to ensure that women are not prevented from reaching their full potential, particularly in the workplace, because of caregiving responsibilities.

[4] See Slaight Communications Inc. v. Davidson, [1989] 1 S.C.R. 1038 and Baker v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 817 at paras. 70-71.
[5] 10 December 1948, General Assembly resolution 217A (III), UN Doc. A/810.
[6] 19 December 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Can. T.S. 1976 No. 47 (entered into force 23 March 1976, accession by Canada 19 May 1976).
[7] 16 December 1966, 993 U.N.T.S. 3, Can. T.S. 1976 No. 46 (entered into force 03 January 1976, accession by Canada 19 August 1976).
[8] 18 December 1979, 1249 U.N.T.S. 13, Can. T.S. 1982 No. 31 (entered into force 03 September 1981, accession by Canada 09 January 1982).
[9] 20 November 1989, GA Res. 44/25, Can. T.S. 1992 No. 3 (entered into force 02 September 1990, accession by Canada 12 January 1992, Article 18).

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