Ottawa, November 3, 2022 – Today’s Federal Fall Economic Statement provided a snapshot of Canada’s finances, expressing the need for sound economic stewardship in uncertain times, and laying out steps to improve affordability, economic growth, equity, and fairness.
Of note is the reinforcement of supports for families including doubling the GST credit, the Canada Dental Benefit, and new mechanisms to improve housing affordability. A top issue for members of our Young Canadians’ Parliament is climate change, and we are pleased to see investments in this area, as well as commitments to invest in jobs for young Canadians. See full details of the Economic Statement here.
There were limited details on any new initiatives directly aimed at improving the lives of children and youth, which is concerning given the dire challenges they currently face. While economic supports for parents are critical to address the cost of living for their families, direct investments in children and youth are necessary.
Children First Canada (CFC)’s latest Raising Canada research suggests Canada has reached a critical tipping point. Many children do not make it to their 18th birthday: the infant mortality rate in Canada is higher than in most wealthy countries, and the leading causes of childhood deaths include preventable injuries, suicide and homicide. Many of those that do survive aren’t thriving:
- One half of kids experience poor mental health in the form of depression
- One third experience bullying
- One quarter experience sexual harassment or assault in school before reaching grade 7
- And one fifth grow up in poverty.
These devastating statistics are too alarming to be ignored.
“The government must make tough choices about where to invest limited funds during a time of economic uncertainly,” says Sara Austin, founder and CEO of Children First Canada, “but we cannot continue to ignore the urgent challenges facing young Canadians. There is overwhelming evidence that investing in children yields enormous economic returns, benefiting all Canadians.”
“As a young Canadian, I believe more needs to be done to alleviate food insecurity. Programs available are not always getting to those who need it.” says Josephine Maharaj, a 14-year-old member of Young Canadians’ Parliament from Ottawa.
As the federal government prepares for the upcoming Budget, we urge Parliament to prioritize:
1: Making a plan to invest in changing children’s lives for the better
a) Establish an independent Ombudsperson or Commissioner for Children and Youth that is dedicated to protecting the rights of children.
b) Create and implement a national Strategy or Plan of Action to improve the lives of children in Canada
2: Supporting evidence-based decision-making for children and youth in Canada by improving timely access to data.
a) Develop a comprehensive data strategy that would encompass the collection of disaggregated data on the health and well-being of children, supported by analysis, research and insights.
b) Renew the national survey on the child- and youth-serving sector to identify and map all key decision-makers and service providers working to improve the lives of kids in Canada.
3: Investing in the potential of children and youth by enabling them to be active and engaged citizens.
a) Support the creation of a national School Leadership Program that promotes knowledge of children’s rights and responsibilities and develops their confidence
b) Create a Catalytic Investment Fund for Children and Youth to fund innovative and evidence-based programs that will measurably improve the lives of children.
For further details, please see our full Budget submission.
There is no greater investment than improving the lives of children. When kids thrive, Canada thrives. Our collective future depends on the decisions we make today. Investing in kids now is not just the right thing to do, it is also a down payment on our future that will bear enormous social and economic dividends for years to come.
For more information or for an interview, please contact:
About Children First Canada:
Children First Canada (CFC) is a national charitable organization that serves as a strong, effective and independent voice for all 8 million children in Canada. CFC harnesses the strength of many organizations and individuals 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.org for more information.