Children’s Amendment Bill: motion of desirability; Canada Study Tour Report

Social Development

29 November 2023
Chairperson: Ms N Mvana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Committee discussed the Motion of Desirability on the Children’s Amendment Bill, and decided that the proposed legislation was not desirable at this stage, and should be deferred to the Seventh Parliament for consideration.

Its view was that extending partial care for six or fewer children could be dealt with as part of a more comprehensive Bill; it did not have sufficient time to process the Bill; and the Department of Social Development may face implementation challenges due to financial and human resource constraints.

Concern was expressed that the Bill was being delayed, and it was asserted that the Committee was not taking the protection of children seriously. However, there was agreement that the report adequately expressed why Members did not support the Bill and that it had to be referred to the Seventh Administration.

The Committee also considered the report on its study tour to Canada, and agreed that South Africa could learn a lot from Canada in terms of monitoring and evaluation. They pointed out that South Africa had the necessary legislation and policies, but had to focus on their implementation.

Meeting report

Motion of desirability on Children’s Amendment Bill [B19 – 2023]

Ms Lindiwe Ntsabo, Committee Secretary, said that this was the last process of the Bill after considering the presentations from the sponsor and the implementer. It was in the hands of the Committee to consider and adopt the motion of desirability – whether they may process the Bill or not.

She said that the Committee, having considered the Children's Amendment BilI [B19 - 2023] (National Assembly - section 76), referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) as a section 76 Bill, reported as follows:

The Children's Amendment Bill, a Private Member's Bill, was tabled and referred to the Committee on 13 July 2023. On 15 November, the Committee invited the sponsor of the Bill, Ms B Masango (DA), to brief it on the Bill.

The Bill seeks to amend the Children's Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), to insert a new definition for a new type of care:

  • To provide that micro-partial care is provided when a person takes care of six or fewer children on behalf of their parents, guardians, and caregivers during specific hours of the day or night, or for a temporary period by agreement;
  • To regulate micro-partial care;
  • To provide for matters relating to micro-partial care and micro-partial care facilities:
  • To provide for further exclusions from what partial care entails, and to provide for matters connected therewith.

On 15 November, the Committee also received a presentation from the Department of Social Development, which provided its views and responses to the proposed Bill. Following this presentation, the Committee held a further meeting on 22 November, where it was briefed by the Department of Social Development (DSD) on the cost of the Bill.

Having deliberated on the briefings and the presentations received, the Committee had adopted a motion that the proposed legislation was not desirable at this stage due to the following reasons:

  • The aspect of extending partial care for six or fewer children was included in clause 34 of the Children's Amendment Bill B18 - 2020 (i.e. the Bill that the Executive introduced), which formed part of all the remaining clauses that the Committee had deferred to the 7th Parliament to deal with. This aspect could then be dealt with as part of a more comprehensive Bill;
  • The Committee would also not have sufficient time to process the Bill as it was in the process of considering the Older Persons Amendment Bill, and Parliament was left with only two weeks before it adjourned. In 2024, Parliament would also go on recess early for the general elections;
  • The Department of Social Development may face implementation challenges due to financial and human resource constraints, namely a lack of funding to employ social workers to conduct the registration and inspection of the proposed micro-partial care facilities and the general implementation of the Bill.

While the Committee supported the contents of the Bill, as it seeks to further strengthen the protection of children, the Committee thought it should not proceed with the proposed legislation due to the above-mentioned reasons.

The report was put forward for consideration by the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson thanked Ms Ntsabo for the report, and opened the floor for questions and comments from the Committee.


Ms Masango said that the report accurately summarised the discussions that were held during the previous meetings.

She expressed her concern that the Committee was implying that the protection of children would have to be delayed because of budget and procedural challenges. Therefore, the protection being proposed at facilities that were looking after sick children would be delayed. She asked for clarity on this matter. They were not separating legislative issues from executive issues. The protection of children was being delayed, and they had to act on this. She expressed her disappointment at the fact that the Committee was delaying this process.

The Acting Chairperson expressed his gratitude to the Members for engaging on this Bill. He said that they were not delaying the protection of rights of children, but they all agreed that the rights of children were paramount and had to be protected. 

He said that the draft report adequately covered the issues regarding the separation of powers. They had invited the Department to respond to the Bill before the Portfolio Committee. The DSD was the implementer of this particular Bill, and they were not dictating what was to be shown to the Committee.

Ms J Manganye (ANC) said they had to take the Bill to the Seventh Administration and refer it back, based on the issues they had discussed. They were not able to pass the Bill, and she proposed that they reject it.

The Acting Chairperson said that the report before them explained exactly why the Committee did not agree with the motion of desirability.

Ms A Mhlongo (ANC) said that the report adequately detailed all the reasons why the Committee had moved for the adoption of the report.

Ms L Arries (EFF) echoed Ms Manganye's comment, and said the Bill must be rolled over to the Seventh Administration.

Ms P Marais (EFF) also agreed that they should leave it in the hands of the Seventh Administration. She had no issue with the Children’s Amendment Bill, but it had to be left in the hands of the next administration.

Ms Manganye seconded Ms Mhlongo's proposal.

The Acting Chairperson said that the report was adopted as is, and would be referred to Parliament.

Committee report on its study tour to Canada

Ms Yolisa Khanye, Committee Content Advisor, took the Committee through the report on the Canada study tour report in June 2023.

She said that the objectives of the study tour were to:

  • Meet with parliamentary counterparts to learn from their oversight work on how they hold the Executive accountable in implementing laws, policies, programmes and services for older persons.
  • Meet with the central authorities (relevant government departments) to engage with them on legislative provisions, policies, and programmes put in place to protect the rights of older persons.
  • Meet with government agencies that deliver advisory services to the state on older persons.
  • Conduct site visits to government programmes for older persons, such as old age homes, community programmes, organisations and projects accredited to work with older persons.

On the "meet and greet" with the High Commissioner of the Ottawa province, she said that Canada had a federal government and that the provinces had enormous authority over how they spend their allocated budgets, policy formulation, and law-making. For example, Quebec had its own Quebec Pension Plan. There was a distinct separation of powers between the federal government and provincial government when it came to certain competencies. For instance, social development, health and education were provincial competencies. She pointed out that Canada has a high population of elderly people, and as a result, it has one of the best pension funds in the world, with a budget of $1.3 trillion. This fund was strictly monitored and managed.

She highlighted that the aging population implied that Canada had been importing a lot of immigrants -- about 450 000 a year. By 2031, it was estimated that Canada would have a high population of foreign-born nationals. By 2050, 40% of the Canadian population would be brown-skinned because of Asian immigrants. Immigrants in Canada were respected and treated as citizens as soon as they had citizenship status.

Canada had a high level of safety and security because communities were involved in maintaining law and order. They had a liberal approach to the use of drugs, and as a result, drug users were generally not aggressive. Drug dealing was not criminalised -- instead, community organisations provide shelter and meals for people using drugs. Drug abuse, and subsequently gender-based violence (GBV) and suicide, were high among the indigenous people.

From the meeting with the government of Canada, they had taken note of a few policies they had in place. These included:

Employment and Social Development (ESDC)

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) was the biggest federal government entity, with a staff complement of 2 500. It also had the largest budget. It works closely with other federal departments, provincial departments, and non-profit organisations (NPOs), as the older persons function was a joint responsibility. Its main responsibility was to develop policies for older persons. Canadians had a longer and healthier life expectancy, so it was important for the Canadian government to have the right policies for old age.

Canada's Retirement Income System (RIS)

The RIS objectives were to prevent poverty among seniors, provide adequate income replacement in retirement, and achieve financial sustainability and economic efficiency. The system had three pillars:

  • Old Age Security System (tax-financed)
  • Canada Pension Plan (mandatory contributions)
  • Workplace Pension Plans (private contributions).

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) provides partial earnings replacement in the event of the retirement, disability, or death of a contributor. It is designed to replace up to 25% of the lifetime average wage at retirement. The SA White Paper on Comprehensive Social Security aims to introduce a similar pension system.

The Canada Revenue Agency collects contributions towards the CPP, and the Employment and Social Development service administers the benefits. Roughly 14.4 million workers contribute annually. In 2021/22, contributions totalled $64.6 billion. A total of 6.2 million beneficiaries received $52.9 billion in benefits in 2021/22.

All employed and self-employed workers with sufficient earnings contribute. Contributions begin at age 18, and end when the contributor starts collecting their retirement pension, reaches age 70, or dies.

Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Seniors Forum

This comprises the Ministers responsible for seniors from all 14 jurisdictions, who meet to advance seniors’ issues, either in person or via videoconference. They identify priorities for future work of the Forum, and approve deliverables completed to address those priorities.

The Minister’s meeting is led by a Federal co-chair and a Provincial/Territorial (PT) co-chair, who co-develop the agenda.
Forum decisions are made by consensus. The PT co-chairs rotate every 18 to 24 months. Ontario is currently PT co-chair of the Forum. Most Ministers responsible for seniors hold multiple portfolios, usually related to health, housing, disability/accessibility, community, and/or social services.

To better understand and address the negative impact of ageism, the Forum conducted an online survey across Canada. The results of the survey were reported in the "What We Heard Report", which identified policy options to support seniors' organisations, researchers, and all levels of government, to consider how they may address ageism.

Priorities for 2022 - 2025

Priority 1: The role of technology to enhance ageing.

This aims to explore policies that encourage the use of technologies available to seniors, caregivers, and supporting organisations, and identify how they can be used to facilitate ageing in the community, including in remote and rural communities.

Priority 2: Senior abuse -- during the pandemic and beyond.

This aims to inform FPT programming and policies that address senior abuse, safety and security, by taking lessons learned from the pandemic and considering options to apply them going forward. A national survey found that 8.2% of community-dwelling Canadians aged 55 or over had experienced abuse (physical, psychological, sexual, or financial) or neglect in the previous year.

Priority 3: Supportive housing for a diverse senior population.

This aims to help seniors to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and ultimately to develop innovative housing models to support a diverse population of seniors to age in their own homes and community.

She mentioned two programmes for seniors - the "New Horizon for Seniors Programme" and the "Age Well at Home Initiative."

New Horizon for Seniors Programme (NHSP)

This programme aimed to enhance seniors' social inclusion, and mobilise and support organisations led by seniors by funding their community-based projects. Funding recipients included non-profit organisations (NPOs), municipalities, indigenous organisations, coalitions, networks or committees, public health and social services institutions, and research and educational institutions. It had an annual budget of $70 million (R939 million). Through this programme, Employment and Social Development Canada in 2020 provided community-based organisations with funds to adapt their projects to support seniors impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding was also made available to support projects that reduce isolation, improve the quality of life of seniors, and help them maintain a social support network.

Age Well at Home

This initiative focuses on supporting organisations serving seniors that mobilise volunteers to help seniors to age in place. The organisation provides caregivers who assist seniors with personal care, housekeeping, transportation, meal preparation, access to health care (delivery of medication), and any other practical support.

At the Committee's study tour meeting with the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee, they were informed that Canada's population exceeded 40 million due to its aggressive immigration policy. This was to address the critical shortage of labour, for instance, in the health and construction sector.

The Committee had recently considered two Bills. These were Bill C 22, which introduced a permanent disability, programme for those aged 18 - 65 that would be implemented parallel to the Old Age Pension, and Bill C 25. Bill C 25 introduced a child care programme that allowed a maximum income of $10 per day for child care. This aimed to attract young mothers back to the labour force.

They gained insight into the Federal victim strategy at the meeting with Justice Canada. The department collaborated closely with other federal institutions and victims, victims' advocates, provincial and territorial governments, victim services, law enforcement, and others involved in the criminal justice system to implement the Federal victims strategy. The Victims Fund provided funding to projects and activities that promote access to justice, victim assistance programmes, etc. The department introduced the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which also protects the rights of seniors, particularly those residing in rural areas. Victims had the right to request testimonial services when testifying in court, and it was easier for courts to order testimonial services. These services were available to all the victims, including older persons.

From the meeting with the Ministry of Social Development and Social Services in Quebec province, they learned that Quebec has a population of 8.6 million inhabitants (22.3% of the Canadian population). More than 78% of the population is French-speaking, and more than 60% of the population lives in Montréal.

The MADA support programme aims to adapt policies, services, and structures affecting the built and social environments to create conditions that optimise opportunities for active ageing. It provides financial assistance to municipalities to plan and implement actions to meet the needs of seniors. It is supported by the Quebec government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that provide technical support to municipalities, the Research Centre on Ageing, and the Conference of Regional Consultation Tables for seniors.

The implementation of the MADA had had the following positive effects:

  • Increased local investment in seniors.
  • Development of "thinking and acting seniors" in municipalities, directing involvement of seniors in the implementation of actions in their favour,

  • Intensify networking and collaboration between local partners, and
  • Adapting the living environment to seniors' realities through implementing concrete measures, which were developed "by and for" seniors.

During the meeting with the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services - Secretariat for Seniors- they discussed various plans. The Anti-Mistreatment Plan for Older Persons in Quebec identified types of mistreatment. This covered psychological, physical and sexual mistreatment, material and financial mistreatment, organisational mistreatment, ageism, and the violation of rights.

The Anti-Mistreatment Plan for Older Persons was implemented through five orientations:

1) prevent abuse by raising awareness,

2) develop, promote, and implement practices that foster good elder care,

3) raise awareness and provide training on maltreatment to a variety of stakeholders and communities,

4) improve management of abusive situations,

5) develop and disseminate knowledge about maltreatment.

At the meeting with Revenue Quebec, they were told that the Quebec Budget allocated additional investment for home support services, and also allowed for additional government initiatives such as active ageing, the fight against elder abuse, and free vaccination against shingles.

The presentation reported on various tax credit categories for seniors. These included non-refundable tax credits paid to persons living alone, disability, medical expenses, and refundable tax credits for home support services, caregivers, independent living, and grants to offset municipal tax increases.

Dedicated ministry for older persons

This model would address the challenge of lack of coordination and planning between departments. A dedicated ministry would also ensure that resources (budget and human resources) were allocated for older persons through a Budget Vote that Parliament would approve. There would also be a dedicated committee of Parliament to conduct oversight over the department. South Africa already had a Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities (DWYPWD). In the Presidency, there was also a dedicated Office on the Rights of Children. A similar governmental structure should be considered for older persons, as they were the only vulnerable group left behind.

Federal/provincial/territorial (FPT) forums

As mentioned earlier in the report, these forums provide a critical platform for most Ministers responsible for seniors to engage and make decisions to advance the needs of older persons and identify priority areas. As indicated above, the Bill seeks to introduce similar structures and lessons that can be learned from this Canadian model. Most importantly, these forums are co-chaired by political heads, which gives them more authority to make decisions.

National Council of Seniors

South Africa could also establish an advisory body that would advise the "Minister Responsible for Seniors."

Official statistics and national/provincial surveys

As explained earlier, South Africa did not have these kinds of surveys. They must be instituted to inform policies and programmes (evidence-based policymaking).

New Horizons for Seniors Programme

One of the challenges faced by older persons is social exclusion, which makes them more vulnerable to various social ills. Establishing a similar programme in South Africa, funded by the government to support organisations and institutions that run community and wider projects that address challenges faced by older persons in rural, peri-urban, and urban areas, would address the challenge of isolation and exclusion of older persons.

Age Well at Home Initiative

The Department of Social Development, through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), already provides caregivers to assist older persons with their daily living needs. There was a great need for caregivers and funding for their remuneration, as had emerged during the public hearings on the Older Persons Amendment Bill. Thus, the Department could learn from the funding model of this initiative as a response to the call of older persons for more caregivers, and an increase in grants-in-aid.

 MADA Support Programme

The Older Persons Amendment Bill also recognises municipalities as one of the stakeholders. However, in South Africa, municipalities, particularly smaller municipalities, were struggling to provide these services. Thus, a programme such as this one, could be a best practice for South Africa, and the DSD could learn from it.

Adoption of study tour report

The Acting Chairperson thanked Ms Khanye for the presentation. He asked for a mover and seconder for the adoption of the report.

The report was welcomed by the Committee.

Ms Masango said that South Africa just had to get to the point where they implemented everything they had in their legislation, policies, and any other document that emanated from them. Recent public hearings have shown that older persons are being looked after in South Africa. If one was at the hearings, one would know that, but the efforts were being hindered and compromised by the lack of resources and the disjointed manner in which the stakeholders were working. With this Bill and the existing legislation, she was positive that they would be able to make strides.

She said monitoring and evaluation were key to how Canada did things. They even monitored their older persons if they were in another country. South Africa was able to learn a lot from them and improve on how they did things in South Africa.

Ms Marais said that if a person moved out of Canada after being retired, they still received their pension, and that was something that South Africa could take away from their visit there.

She said that unemployed people received a stipend and were exempt from paying taxes.

The government in Canada also supported home-based care. She said government and the Department could learn much from Canada.

She mentioned that when people retired at 65, they could still work until they were 85 in Canada. She emphasised that they could learn a lot from Canada, and said the report was excellent.

The Acting Chairperson asked for a mover and seconder to consider and adopt the report.

Ms Marais moved the adoption of the report.

Ms Masango seconded the adoption of the report.

The report was adopted.

Committee minutes

The Committee adopted the minutes of a previous meeting

The meeting was adjourned.


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