Children First Canada Responds to Budget 2022: COVID-19 recovery plan for kids is missing

Ottawa, April 7, 2022 – Budget 2022 includes important investments on a range of issues that will positively impact children and youth, including childcare and early learning, dental care, pharmacare and housing, but does not include big, bold investments to address the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and youth in Canada. 

A decade ago, Canada was ranked in 10th place amongst OECD countries for the wellbeing of children, but has since fallen sharply to 30th place. The COVID19 pandemic has resulted in widespread violations of children’s rights that require urgent attention and bold investments. Today’s budget does not address these needs. 

“We are facing a generational catastrophe that requires immediate and sustained support.  Children are grappling with massive learning loss, mental and physical health issues, social isolation and many other challenges,” says Sara Austin, founder and CEO of Children First Canada.  “Children are citizens with rights. They represent a quarter of our population and one hundred per cent of our future. As Canada rebuilds from the pandemic, there is nothing more critical than investing in our children. When children prosper, Canada prospers.” 

Canadians strongly support greater federal investments in children. According to a recent national survey conducted by Maru/Blue for Children First Canada,  85 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the future of children and youth in Canada. Three quarters (76 per cent) feel that federal spending on children is important, with 29 per cent noting that they feel it is “very important.” That number increases to 39 per cent among respondents with children.

Although a pandemic recovery plan for kids is lacking, Children First Canada is pleased that several commitments in Budget 2022 support recommendations from the Young Canadians’ Parliament (YCP), in their recently released report “Our Commitment to Today and Tomorrow”. 

“The budget is rather robust and impressive in addressing pollution. I am extremely excited to see these promises come into action.  What is missing is holding the companies responsible,” says 14 year old Lucy Diaz from Port Coquitlam, BC. “Something I am impressed about is the focus on shifting from fuel powered vehicles to zero-emission vehicles. This shift will create a big difference in our carbon footprint. Another YCP recommendation missing is to increase climate education. It is important for youth to be informed about climate, however, the education we receive today does not address this enough.”  

While some recommendations from the YCP were included, other important issues were not. “The 2022 budget has taken into consideration the needs of many minority groups within Canada, but seems to have forgotten the needs of children and youth” says 17 year old Simi Sahota, Member of the YCP. “With important advancements in sectors such as child-care, truth and reconciliation, and more, it still fails to meet many other crucial needs of children across Canada. Issues such as mental health and ableism have no clear budget or plan to help youth and students specifically. It seems the government still has no plan to allow a discussion with diverse children to speak on youth topics which affect them.”

Children First Canada welcomes the Budget commitments to advance reconciliation with First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, but notes that the funding falls short and urges the federal government to meet its full commitments to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the full implementation of the TRC’s Calls to Action.  

As we move forward, Children First Canada has proposed a roadmap to put children and youth at the heart of Canada’s pandemic recovery plans and help achieve our shared vision of making Canada the best place for kids to grow up. This will require dedicated federal leadership and the investment of financial resources, including: 

  1. Establishing a Federal Commissioner for Children and Youth and develop a National/Pan-Canadian Strategy for Children  
  2. Launching a Catalytic Investment Fund for Children and publish a Children’s Budget 
  3. Collecting disaggregated data on the health and wellbeing of kids across Canada  

These recommendations will advance the following key federal mandate priorities impacting children: 

  • Ensuring that the voices and needs of children are represented in the Government’s agenda and working to make Canada the best place to grow up.
  • Ensuring that mental health supports are accessible to children and youth as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.
  • Developing a National School Food Policy and working toward a national school nutritious meal program.  

The young people from across Canada who contributed to this release added, “We hope that the government sees the value that young people offer and will do more to bring young people into policy-making processes.”  

Children First Canada and members of the Young Canadians’ Parliament are conducting a full analysis on Budget 2022 investments in children and youth, the details of which will be made available in the coming days.

For more information or for an interview, please contact: 

Andrea Chrysanthou 

Director, NATIONAL Public Relations 

achrysanthou@national.ca 

416-797-8194 

About Children First Canada: 

Children First Canada (CFC) is a national charitable organization with a bold and ambitious vision that together we can make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up. We are a strong, effective and independent voice for all 8 million children in Canada. CFC is harnessing the strength of many organizations that are committed to improving the lives of children in Canada, including children’s charities and hospitals, research centres, government, corporations, community leaders, and children themselves. Visit childrenfirstcanada.com for more information. 

Children First Canada wishes to acknowledge the leadership and contributions of the following members of the Young Canadians’ Parliament for their analysis of Budget 2022: Jessica Janega (ON), Katie Fernandez (ON), Lucy Diaz (BC), Roman Wolfli (AB) and Simi Sahota (BC).