Child Advocates Urge Government Leaders to Ensure the Health and Safety of Canada’s Children

Children First Canada reveals top 10 threats facing kids across the country 

 TORONTO, September 3, 2019 – A national call to action released today asks federal political leaders to address the top 10 issues threatening Canada’s children including poverty, abuse, obesity, suicide, bullying, and preventable injuries. According to the research, of the 8 million children in Canada, at least one third do not enjoy a safe and healthy childhood. 

“Raising Canada: Election 2019,” was released by the national non-profit Children First Canada with research from the O’Brien Institute for Public Health and endorsed by the Council of Champions – Canada’s leading children’s charities, kids’ hospitals, research institutes and major corporations that invest in children’s issues. It pinpoints the top 10 threats to children’s health and safety and calls on the leaders of federal political parties and all candidates seeking office to take urgent action. The paper also calls on Canadians to use their vote to urge federal leaders to take action to improve the lives of children and invest today for the sake of all Canadians. 

“The majority of Canadians rank this as a top 5 or top 10 country to raise a child, but the reality is that Canada ranks 25th out of 41 OECD countries for children’s wellbeing,” says Sara Austin, founder and Lead Director of Children First Canada. “As a society, we have largely ignored the harsh realities that affect our most vulnerable, and that needs to change. As Canadians prepare to head to the polls, now is the time to demand that these challenges can be tackled.” 

Top 10 threats to childhood, according to Raising Canada: Election 2019: 

  1. ACCIDENTS AND PREVENTABLE INJURIES are the leading cause of death for children 

  2. SUICIDE is the second leading cause of death for Canadian children. Canada was one of the five countries with the highest teenage suicide rates, at a rate of over 10 per 100,000 teens. 

  3. CHILD ABUSE: One third of Canadians experience some form of child abuse before the age of 16. Child abuse costs Canadians an estimated $23 billion annually 

  4. POVERTY: Nearly 10% of Canadian children grow up in poverty, and nearly 50% of Indigenous children. 

  5. INFANT MORTALITY: Canada ranks 30th amongst 44 OECD countries for infant mortality. All European OECD countries have a lower infant mortality rate than Canada’s. 

  6. OBESITY: A quarter of children are obese and only one third get enough daily physical activity 

  7. FOOD INSECURITY: More 10% of families with children under 6 years saying experience food insecurity 

  8. IMMUNIZATION: A quarter of children are not fully immunized by age two. 

  9. DISCRIMINATION profoundly impacts the health of Indigenous and racialized children. 

  10. BULLYING: More than 10 percent of 15-17 year-olds experienced bullying online, and one in five children and youth (age 15-20) experienced cyberstalking, cyberbullying, or both. 

Raising Canada: Election 2019 echoes the priorities set out in the Canadian Children’s Charter developed by Children First Canada with input from thousands of children and youth across the country. The document lays a roadmap for urgent action to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of every child in Canada. 

Other calls to action in the report released today include: 

  • The appointment of an independent federal Commission for Children and Youth to raise the profile of children in Canada

  • A pan-Canadian strategy for children led by the federal government in consultation with the provinces and territories that would tackle the top 10 threats to children’s health and wellbeing and ensure the full implementation of the Canadian Children’s Charter and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • A Children’s Budget to ensure adequate resources are directed toward addressing the top 10 threats to childhood


For more information about the report or to schedule an interview with Sara Austin, please contact: 

Andrea Chrysanthou 
Director, Communications 
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 


The O’Brien Institute for Public Health brings together an interdisciplinary group of population and health services researchers, health practitioners, trainees, and decision-makers, working together toward a common goal: Better Health and Health Care. 

We study health care systems in search of ways to make them better. We also study new ways to prevent disease and promote health in the general population. And we engage our communities to understand what matters to them most. Our mandate is to produce new knowledge through academic excellence, in order to inform public policy for health and to create a direct impact to our communities.