Giving Ontario’s Youth a Voice

How do you give Ontario’s youth a voice? You go straight to the source – the children themselves. That is what Irwin Elman, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, emphasized in a meeting with the Interns last month.

Mr. Elman has worked extensively with young people in Ontario and his passion for youth advocacy has led him to all corners of the province. As community outreach is a core principle of the Office’s mission, Mr. Elman goes where the children need him; that’s everywhere from here in Toronto to more remote communities in Northern Ontario and beyond.

The Office was created nine years ago when Bill 165 was passed by the Legislature. In that time, Mr. Elman has consulted with youth from an array of communities; this includes youth within the justice system, children in care, youth in the mental health system as well as those with special needs. The goal: to provide recommendations to the provincial government on how to improve the lives of those young Ontarians. Mr. Elman captivated us by sharing how he engages young people in conversation to achieve this goal and stressed that his most powerful reports to the government are the ones that children write themselves. He also shared that creating safe spaces and positive relationships is what helps build the environment where Ontario’s children and youth can best be heard.

Thank you to Mr. Elman and staff at for your hospitality and for inspiring us with your insights about youth advocacy!



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