New Survey Reveals Majority of Canadians want Government to Prioritize Spending on Children

New Survey Reveals Majority of Canadians want Government to Prioritize Spending on Children

85 per cent say the pandemic has negatively impacted kids’ social and emotional development

Calgary, ON, March 10, 2022 – A national survey released today has found that the vast majority (85 per cent) of Canadians are concerned about the future of children and youth in Canada, with more than a third (35 per cent) saying they are very concerned. The findings come on the eve of the second anniversary of the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey, conducted by Maru/Blue for Children First Canada also revealed that Canadians think that it is important that the Canadian government spend more money supporting children and youth as part of its COVID-19 recovery plan. Seventy-six per cent of respondents said federal spending on children is important, with 29 per cent noting that they feel it is “very important.” That number increases to 39 per cent among respondents with children. The study found that parents were more concerned about long-lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.

Other findings include: 

  • 85 per cent of respondents (88% of parents) say the pandemic has had a negative impact on children’s social and emotional development.
  • 82 per cent of respondents (86% of parents) say the pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health and wellbeing of children in Canada. 
  • 81 per cent of respondents, including parents, say the pandemic has increased inequality between families depending on household income and wealth.
  • 79 per cent of respondents (81% of parents) say the pandemic has disproportionately impacted vulnerable children and youth.
  • 77 % of respondents (81% of parents) say disrupted learning throughout the pandemic will have negative and long-term impacts on children and youth.
  • 74% of respondents (76% of parents) say the pandemic has negatively impacted the physical health of children in Canada.

“Just because we are seeing an easing in COVID-19 restrictions does not mean that the pandemic is behind us,” says Children First Canada’s founder and CEO Sara Austin. “Kids are still in crisis. They are grappling with massive learning loss, mental and physical health issues, social isolation and many other challenges. We are facing a generational catastrophe that requires urgent and sustained support. As Canada rebuilds from the pandemic, there is nothing more critical than investing in our children.”

Austin notes that children’s hospitals reported unprecedented admissions for mental health concerns, including suicide attempts, eating disorders, substance-use disorders, as well as other physical symptoms related to distress during the pandemic. Children have faced delayed access to medical treatment, including surgeries and rehabilitation, and school closures cut kids off for prolonged periods from their education along with physical activity, breakfast and lunch programs and recreational activities, which are essential for their development.

Children First Canada is urging the federal government to make big, bold investments in children, including creating a Catalytic Investment Fund for Children and Youth and publishing a Children’s Budget to ensure transparency for all federal spending related to children. This fund would provide the resources required to take immediate action to address the crisis facing kids in our country and drive sustainable change for future generations, with the goal of making Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.

“The health and wellbeing of kids in Canada has sharply declined over the past decade, and the pandemic has threatened the survival and development of children,” said Austin, “The Government of Canada must make immediate, bold and ambitious investments in kids to advance their health and wellbeing as we rebuild from the pandemic. The future of Canada depends on it.”

Children First Canada has urged the government to prioritize the following in Budget 2022:

  1. Establish a Federal Commissioner for Children and Youth and develop a National Strategy for Children
  2. Launch a Catalytic Investment Fund for Children and publish a Children’s Budget 
  3. Collect disaggregated data on the health and wellbeing of kids across Canada

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Andrea Chrysanthou


NATIONAL Public Relations


About Children First Canada:

Children First Canada (CFC) is a national charitable organization that serves as a strong, effective, and independent voice for all children in Canada. CFC harnesses the strength of many organizations and individuals 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 for more information.

For more information, you can read Children First Canada’s 2022 pre-budget consultation submission and latest Raising Canada report.