Canadian Children Call on the Prime Minister to Take Urgent Action as Schools Close for Summer

Call follows virtual Young Canadians’ Parliament where kids met with government officials to discuss critical issues facing children

June 18, 2020, OTTAWA – Children from across Canada are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take urgent action as schools close for summer vacation. The children who participated in last week’s Young Canadians’ Parliament are calling on the Prime Minister to offer additional supports at what they say is a critical time for Canadian kids who have been dealing with unprecedented stresses associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been impacted by this pandemic in so many ways. Things like activities, both inside and outside of our schools, have been cancelled. This is devastating for a lot of us, especially as the warmer weather comes around and we are forced to remain indoors, despite the urge to play outside with friends,” says Sagni Kuma – a youth from Ottawa who was integral to planning and hosting the Young Canadians’ Parliament. “Outside of school, we’re missing out on extracurriculars like summer camps and daycares, where we could interact with other children and youth while our parents work. Now that school has ended, we have less access to teachers and guidance counselors, and have lost yet another piece of normalcy to our daily routines. Mental health is a huge thing a lot of us struggle with, but we don’t know how to identify or tackle ourselves. We need people reaching out to us, checking up on us, or giving us a way to remain engaged when we would otherwise be unstimulated.”

“Thanks to the efforts of the Young Canadians’ Parliament, my peers and I had the opportunity to speak with government officials, an opportunity not many young people are able to partake in. However, the one person we want to speak with the most is the Prime Minister”, says Kamil Kanji a youth from Calgary who co-hosted the youth Parliament. “We wish to speak directly to him so that he can hear from children about what is important to us and how we want the government to fulfill their duties to ALL their citizens. Our issues and problems deserve to be addressed with the same urgency that the issues of adults are addressed. On behalf of my 8 million peers, we call on the Prime Minister to sit down and have a real action-oriented conversation with us about what our needs are and the solutions so many of us have.”

The initiative has been organized by the national child rights advocacy organization, Children First Canada, to amplify children’s voices at the highest levels of government. Participants met with several parliamentarians, including Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, the Honourable Darren Fisher, and Members of Parliament from the Conservative and NDP parties.

As part of the viral event, children from across the country worked together to come up with a list of initiatives the government could put in place to support the current needs of Canadian kids.

Some of the initiatives they are calling for include:

  • Continued breakfast and lunch programs and food banks to ensure access to food

  • Online resources developed to help children be outside and be active 

  • Financial supports to children who have barriers to access online platforms that allow them to take part in activities and stay connected to their loved ones 

  • Investments in education to build the next generation

  • Investments in public spaces and open roads to ride bikes

  • Options to allow children to decide the best way to continue their education in September

  • More supports or Individual Education Plans for children with special needs

  • Funding to businesses so that their parents can purchase technology to work from home 

  • The creation of strategies for people and businesses to continue the progress made in reducing pollution during COVID-19.

For more information about today’s call for action or to interview a member of Children First Canada’s Young Canadians’ Parliament and Youth Advisory Council, please contact:

Andrea Chrysanthou

Global Public Affairs