Child Advocates Respond to Throne Speech, Calling on Parliament to Make Kids a Higher Priority

Ottawa, ON, December 4, 2019

Today Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, delivered the Speech from the Throne, outlining the government’s agenda and opening the 43rd Parliament. Priorities included in the speech were: regional concerns, climate change, economic growth, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, tackling gun violence and gender-based violence, support for veterans and foreign affairs.

Children First Canada along with its Council of Champions and supporters has been advocating for a comprehensive approach to improving the lives of Canada’s kids. We are encouraged to see some items of interest to children mentioned in the Throne Speech, including ensuring fair compensation for Indigenous children and plans to tackle poverty and climate change. We have consistently called for a Commission for Children and Youth, a Children’s Budget and a pan Canadian strategy for children and youth, and we eagerly await the release of the mandate letters of the new Cabinet and the upcoming budget as opportunities for a firm commitment to urgently move the needle for Canada’s kids.

“We are encouraged to see commitments to provide compensation for First Nations children and plans to tackle climate change and poverty reflected in the Throne Speech, but we also want to see a plan of action to urgently improve the lives of Canada’s eight million kids,” says Sara Austin, Founder and CEO of Children First Canada. “Over the past decade Canada has dropped from 12th place to 25 th amongst wealthy nations for the wellbeing of our children. Every single day matters in the life of a child, and we are looking for bold leadership from our government to protect children’s rights and give every kid the chance to enjoy a safe and healthy childhood.”

“People like to say that ‘children are our future’ but we are also the present” says 12-year-old Roman Wolfli from Calgary, AB. “We are Canadian citizens. If we could vote, perhaps the issues we face would be a greater focus. Listen to our voices and take action to support children. We are citizens of this country, present and future, disempowered, but as important as any adult. 18 is just a number.”

17-year-old Lyza Ells from Antigonish, NS, agrees. “As a youth, it is essential that our government takes concrete action on the issues facing children and youth because we are not given a voice in the decisions that affect us. It is crucial for our government to bear in mind our nation’s silenced youth when making decisions on important issues such as our environment and the climate crisis. I am hopeful for a government that listens to Canada’s youth as the leaders of today and of tomorrow.”

Canada’s kids deserve better! Our recent report Raising Canada: Election 2019 outlines the top ten threats facing Canada’s children.

The most alarming include:

  • Accidents and preventable injuries are the #1 cause of childhood deaths in Canada

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids

  • One third of Canadians has experienced some form of child abuse before the age of 16

We still have a lot of work to do.

The good news is that Canadians support this work! In a recent poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Children First Canada and two of its partners: Children’s Healthcare Canada and the IWK Health Centre, nine in ten respondents said Canada should put a high priority on improving children’s well-being.

The speech did include some important signals for Canada’s children; some highlights include:

  • Actions for affordable housing

  • Tax cuts for many Canadians

  • Assistance for childcare

  • Action to prevent the devastating effects of gun violence

  • Plans to tackle climate change

  • Several items related to the rights of Indigenous children, including action on boil water advisories and compensation for First Nations children who were placed in child welfare.

  • Health supports through ensuring Canadians have a primary care doctor as well as mental health supports and a plan to implement pharma care.

Children First Canada welcomes these commitments, many of which respond directly to the concerns raised in our Raising Canada: Election 2019. While we welcome these investments, we continue to advocate for a Commission for Children and Youth, a Children’s Budget and a pan Canadian strategy for children and youth, which are evidence-based strategies that will result in measurable change for Canada’s eight million kids. We look forward to continuing to work with the government to improve the lives of all of Canada’s children.

The kids are not alright, and it’s time for Canada to measure up!

For more information on Children First Canada or to coordinate an interview with Sara Austin, please contact:

Andrea Chrysanthou

Global Public Affairs



Children First Canada a national non-profit 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 of Canada’s children.

We are harnessing the strength of many organizations that are committed to improving the lives of Canada’s children, including children’s charities and hospitals, research centres, government, corporations, community leaders, and children themselves.

More information is available at