New Research Puts a Multi-Billion Price Tag on Failure to Improve Children’s Health in Canada

Calgary, AB – Children First Canada has released a new report, ‘Pedianomics: the Social Return on Investment in Improving the Health and Wellbeing of Children and Adolescents’. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the past 5 years of investments in the lives of 8 million young Canadians, making the case to put children first during budget planning.

The report presents new data on the multi-billion dollar impact of the recent tripledemic pediatric crisis and lack of progress in improving children’s health, with a focus on the mental health crisis and the urgent need to address childhood food insecurity.

“Pandemic restrictions have lifted and the recent acute pediatric crisis has waned, but the impacts will be felt for years to come. We are facing a generational catastrophe that requires urgent and sustained support. With a child rights lens to equitable budgeting, we can invest in the well-being of kids, ensuring every child in Canada has the opportunity to thrive.” – Sara Austin, Children First Canada Founder and CEO.

The research involves a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto, including the faculties of Social Work, Public Policy, Health, Education and Economics. Vivic Research, an economic consulting firm dedicated to advocating for social justice with data-driven research, partnered on the economic analysis of the social return on investment in children’s health.

“The principle of ‘pedianomics’ is relatively simple: invest in kids’ health now, save for a lifetime. For them. For everyone. Investing in children’s healthcare is a long-term investment in the sustainability of universal medicare. Morally and money-wise, as this report underscores clearly, there is no better time than now to apply the principles of Pedianomics from coast to coast to coast.” – Alex Munter, President & CEO, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre.

Key Findings:

The research identified a multi-billion-dollar price tag associated with the cost of inaction:

  • During the recent pediatric crisis, mothers with children under 12 experienced the greatest loss in productivity due to caregiving for their sick children. It amounted to an economic loss to the Canadian economy of nearly $50 million for mothers and over $13 million for fathers – a staggering combined cost of more than $60 million for the Canadian economy in just the fall of 2022 alone.
  • 60% of Canadians have experienced some form of child abuse, costing an estimated $23 billion annually in court, healthcare and social services costs and long-term effects on earnings;
  • Childhood obesity affects one in three kids, resulting in up to $22 billion per year in lost productivity and increased healthcare costs;
  • Bullying affects one in five kids, costing up to $4 billion per year.
  • Children account for 25.4% of the total First Nations, Métis and Inuit population yet investments to meet their needs and protect their rights still drastically lag.
  • Between 2017 and 2020, provincial and territorial healthcare spending revealed an imbalance in resource allocation, with children and adolescents receiving $80 billion, only 11.5% of total health expenditures, while older adults received $311 billion or 44.5%.

“Children and youth are vital contributors to communities across Canada and indeed represent the future of the nation. It is therefore important that the country appropriately invest and support them.” – Dr. Krista Jangaard, President and CEO, IWK.

“Do you know how it feels to call a hospital while watching your sister have seizure after seizure only to find out all the doctors are on holiday? Do you know the feeling of fury when a doctor attempts to prematurely discharge your sister as she continues to have seizures? I hope you never have to. But these are real experiences that have been brought on because of a lack of prioritization for healthcare for children and youth. CFC’s report raises important points where Canada’s health care system can improve, all that is left to do is act.” – Lucy Diaz, age 16, Port Coquitlam, British Colombia.

“This report highlights the urgent need for greater investments in pediatric healthcare and greater involvement of young people in budgetary decision-making. The consequences of inadequate pediatric healthcare affect us all, but are patterned in various ways along gender, age, social, and economic lines. I encourage all those involved in policy-making to read it.” – Mélissa Sum Wah, age 20, Gatineau, Quebec.

Children First Canada graciously recognizes the support of the Public Health Agency of Canada, MITACS, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), CHEO, and the IWK for making this report possible.

For more information, please contact:
Wraychel Horne, Communications Specialist, Children First Canada
Phone: +1 902-626-9601

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 for more information.