Child marriage around the world:

Canada

Advocacy efforts

Canada is a leading advocate and supporter for efforts to address child marriage internationally. The Canadian government:

  • Co-sponsored the first ever United Nations General Assembly resolutionto address child marriage;
  • Introduced and supported resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council and La Francophonie;
  • Developed, in collaboration with Girls Not Brides, the Girls’ Voices photo exhibit, taking the stories of girls at risk of child marriage, and the community members advocating for change alongside them, around the world.

Investments in child marriage work

Between 2011 and 2016, the Government of Canada committed CAN$80 million to end child marriage. They have supported initiatives across a range of countries and from the local to global level. They have delivered support through mechanisms including the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, the Global Peace and Security Fund, and their development assistance program.

Canada has also funded the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage and the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage.

In March 2017, the Trudeau government announced an investment of $650 million over three years in funding for sexual and reproductive health and rights, which, in part, “aims to prevent and respond to […] child, early and forced marriage”.

In June 2017, Canada launched its Feminist International Assistance Policy. The policy includes a renewed commitment to support comprehensive approaches addressing child marriage and announces more funding for women’s organisations.

Minimum age of marriage

The legal minimum age of marriage in Canada is 16 years, according to the 2005 Civil Marriage Act  and the 2015 Criminal Code.

The minimum age of marriage is set by federal law, but provinces can legislate on marriage and common law unions. For example, while no one can marry before the age of 16, provinces have different policies for whether a child needs their guardians’ consent to marry if they are under 18 or 19. Please refer to each province’s justice website for more information.