Ottawa, November 23, 2021 – Today’s Speech from the Throne, Building a Resilient Economy: A Cleaner & Healthier Future for our Kids, includes numerous measures that will benefit children, ranging from tackling climate change and poverty to investing in health and safety.
More specifically, the government committed to moving the dial on important issues such as: health and well-being (vaccinations, support for delayed medical procedures, mental health and addictions), climate change, safer communities, housing, and child care. The speech also addressed action on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, and commitments to ensure Indigenous communities have the support they need to keep families together, while ensuring fair and equitable compensation for those harmed by the First Nations Child and Family Services program.
Children First Canada welcomes these signals and looks forward to seeing Parliament take action on these important issues, many of which respond directly to the concerns raised in our recent Raising Canada report, which highlighted immediate and long-term threats to the health and well-being of children in Canada.
While these are encouraging steps, much more is needed. For more than a decade, the quality of life for kids in Canada has been steadily declining, and the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly diminished children’s mental and physical health and resulted in learning loss. Canada’s ranking for child well-being has fallen from 10th to 30th place among 38 wealthy nations over the past decade, according to UNICEF.
Children should be at the heart of Canada’s pandemic recovery plans, and Children First Canada agrees that the focus should be on creating a better future for our kids. The speech noted, “This is the moment for parliamentarians to work together to get big things done, and shape a better future for our kids.” Children First Canada looks forward to the release of ministerial mandate letters for additional details of how the government will address important issues for children specifically, such as delayed medical procedures, mental health and addictions.
Now is the time for big, bold leadership. Catalytic investments in short-, medium- and long-term solutions are required for children to survive and thrive. Investing in kids is key to Canada’s economic recovery and will yield a significant return on investment now and for years to come.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially cruel to children, and the urgency to invest in them has never been greater,” says Sara Austin, founder and CEO of Children First Canada. “Children made enormous sacrifices to protect their elders and now it’s time to prioritize children, including investing in their survival and development and protecting their human rights. This must also include working with children, not just for them, and involving them in policy decisions that affect their lives.”
Children First Canada supports the governments’ commitment “to get big things done” to create a better future for our kids. As part of this commitment as we look to the fall economic update, we urge the federal government to put in place six essential building blocks that will improve the lives of all 8 million kids in Canada:
- Appoint a federal Commissioner for Children and Youth
2. Create a national strategy to tackle the top 10 threats to children in Canada and ensure the full protection of children’s rights
3. Invest in children, including launching a Catalytic Investment Fund for Children and publishing a Children’s Budget to provide transparency and accountability
4. Measure what matters, systematically collecting disaggregated national data on the health and well-being of kids across Canada
5. Provide equitable funding and services for First Nations, Métis and Inuit children and implement the TRC’s Calls to Action and the Spirit Bear Plan
6. Involve children in decisions that affect their lives, including consulting them in policy decisions through the Young Canadians’ Parliament and youth advisory councils. This should also include lowering the voting age in Canada, in conformance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Each of the recommendations is valuable in its own right, and when combined together provide a solid foundation to put children at the heart of Canada’s pandemic recovery plans and make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up!
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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 childrenfirstcanada.com for more information.