Media Advisory: Children First Canada Calls on Government to Establish Commissioner for Children and Youth

Children First Canada Calls on Government to Establish Commissioner for Children and Youth

Prominent group of Canadians team up with a new non-profit to urge the government to improve the lives of our children


TORONTO, February 23, 2017 – A new non-profit, Children First Canada, is urging the federal government to appoint a Commissioner for Children and Youth to help drive measurable change on critical issues, including children’s health and safety, and reducing child poverty in Canada.


Children First Canada has a bold and ambitious vision to make Canada a world-leading country where all our kids thrive.  Founder and CEO, Sara Austin, has been advocating for children for more than 20 years at the national and international level, and says a Children’s Commissioner is vital to raising the profile of children’s issues, promoting their interests and giving them a voice.


Children’s Commissioners have been established in more than 60 countries, including the United Kingdom, Sweden and New Zealand, and the strategy has proven to improve children’s wellbeing in those states.


The organization believes many Canadians are living under a misconception: that our kids are alright and may not need an advocate within government. A recent report by Children First Canada and the Angus Reid Institute, however, found that the state of Canada’s children is anything but “alright.”


Did you know: Canada lags behind its international peers when it comes to the wellbeing of our kids. While Canada is the fifth most prosperous nation in the world, a UNICEF global index ranks us as only 17th out of 29 affluent nations for children’s wellbeing, and in the bottom rankings for key measures like child health and safety as well as child poverty.


According to the Children First Canada report, The Kids Are Not Alright:

·       Nearly 1 in 5 kids in Canada lives in poverty

·       1 in 5 teens has considered suicide

·       1 in 3 Canadians has experienced some form of physical or sexual child abuse


“I can’t underscore this enough,” said Sara Austin, Founder and CEO of Children First Canada. “These are more than numbers. These are individual kids whose lives are being diminished every single day from preventable causes. As an advocate for children, as the mother of a child and as a citizen of Canada, I’m angry that we’re failing our children. This has gone on far too long.”


Children First Canada has partnered with many of Canada’s leading children’s charities to ensure there is a unified voice across the country seeking to improve the lives of Canadian children. Sara has also personally sought to involve youth themselves and give them a voice in the organization, rather than speak on their behalf. Children First Canada has four youth ambassadors and Ashley Whiteman, a Prime Minister’s Youth Council Member, has joined Sara in advocating for a Children’s Commissioner.


On February 23rd, you are invited to join Children First Canada along with Ashley Whiteman and esteemed guests as they discuss the urgent need for action to improve the lives of all of Canada’s children.


WHAT:                A National Speaker Series with the Economic Club of Canada: The Kids Are Not Alright: A Look at the Urgent Need to Invest in the Wellbeing of Canada’s Children


WHERE:              Chateau Laurier

1 Rideau St. Ottawa


WHEN:                Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

·       11:30 a.m. – Media Registration

·       11:50 a.m. – Lunch begins

·       12:10 p.m. – Event kicks off

·       1:30 p.m. – Media availability


WHO:                  The Kids Are Not Alright Speakers

·       Sara L. Austin, Founder and President/CEO of Children First Canada

·       André Picard, Public Health Reporter, the Globe and Mail

·       Ashley Whiteman, Prime Minister’s Youth Council Member

·       The Honourable Landon Pearson, Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children, Carleton University, and former “Children’s Senator”

·       Alex Munter, CEO CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario)

·       Ted Woodhead, Senior Vice President, Federal Government and Regulatory Affairs 
TELUS Communications Company




To RSVP for the event and/or request an interview, please contact:

Andrea Chrysanthou

Global Public Affairs