Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.

  • Population:
    – total: 30,857,000
    – under-18s: 7,161,000
  • Government armed forces:
    – active: 59,100
    – reserves: 43,300
    – paramilitary: 9,350
  • Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
  • Voluntary recruitment age: 16
  • Voting age (government elections): 18
  • Child soldiers: indicated – 421 aged 16 to 19 as of 1 March 2001
  • CRC-OP-CAC: signed on 5 June 2000; ratified on 7 July 2000; does not support "straight-18" position
  • Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API+II; ICC; ILO 182
  • There are under-18s in government armed forces as the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 16. Canada has amended its legislation to ensure that those under 18 are not deployed in hostilities.


National Recruitment Legislation

With parental consent and reliable proof of age, 16 and 17 year olds can be recruited into the Canadian Armed Forces.359 Legislative changes reflecting Canada's commitment to the CRC-OP-CAC include, most recently, Bill S-18 which stipulates that under-18s in the Canadian forces, primarily at military college and in the militia, must not be deployed in hostilities.

During the first year of training, recruits may submit a request to the commanding officer for release from service. Except for persons selected for deployment, release is usually authorised but candidates may incur costs if they leave. Most under-18s enter through the Regular Officer Training programme and will not incur costs provided they leave before year two of the advanced programme or before a year and a half in the preparatory programme.

Child Recruitment

The Department of National Defence (DND) does not have statistics for under-18s but do keep figures on recruits under 19. As of 1 March 2001, according to the Effective Strength by Age – Rank – Distribution statistics there were 336 males (149 officers and 187 Non Commissioned Members – NCMs) and 85 females (59 officers and 26 NCMs), altogether comprising 421 individuals between the ages of 16-19 out of a total of 67,257 serving in the armed forces. Details on the number of recruits per year aged 16 and 17 are not currently available.

It is reported that the majority of 16 and 17 year-olds serve in the Reserve Force, enabling them to pay for studies pursued in the civilian post-secondary educational system. Some 16 and 17 year-olds also serve in the Regular Force. The majority of these members enter the Royal Military College, where they generally spend four years as officer cadets. There have not been any reports of child deployment in armed conflict situations.

Military Training and Military Schools

The Sea, Air and Army Cadets comprise the largest youth programme in Canada, with approximately 55,000 members. One can join the Cadets at the age of 12. Marksmanship is listed as an occasional Cadet weekend activity on the Department of National Defense (DND) website. The Army Cadet Corps Training outline states that the DND supports "optional training activities for Army Cadets by providing the equipment and training aids, rations, transportation and field accommodation." Optional activities include smallbore competitive rifle shooting.


International Standards

The CRC-OP-CAC was signed by Canada on 5 June 2000 and ratified on 7 July 2000. Canada does not support a "straight-18" position. A declaration made at the time of ratification states that voluntary recruitment is permitted from the age of 16 but that safeguards are in place to ensure that under-18s are not coerced since conscription is not practised; that parental consent and reliable proof of age are required; and that full information of duties is given to candidates. Canada has amended its legislation in conformity with the CRC-OP-AC as described above.

Initiatives Concerning War-affected Children

Canada hosted the Winnipeg International Conference on War-affected Children in September 2000, which reviewed progress on the protection of children in armed conflict since the 1995 Machel study in preparation for the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in September 2001.

359 All information in this report has been provided by the Canadian Friends Service Committee.


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