Who We Are

Children First Canada is a national charitable organization that harnesses the strength of many organizations and individuals to advocate for and with children and youth in Canada. We are committed to improving the health and well-being of young people across the country – the leaders of today and tomorrow.

A strong, effective and independent voice for all children in Canada.

Children First Canada has a bold and ambitious vision that together we can make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.© We are mobilizing an alliance of Canada’s leading children’s charities and hospitals, research institutes, corporations that invest in kids, teachers, parents and kids themselves. We are improving children’s well-being by building greater awareness among Canadians about the urgent needs of kids in our country, and mobilizing government and other key influencers to change the status quo.

What needs to change?

Children First Canada is busting myths about what it is like to grow up in Canada.

While the majority of Canadians believe we are a top 10 country to raise a child, the reality is starkly different. The harsh truth is that Canada is far from being a world-leading country for kids to grow up. Canada ranks 30th out of 38 affluent nations for children’s well-being according to UNICEF, and we drop to the bottom ranks on key measures such as child poverty and children’s health and safety.

We are not talking about a small handful of kids falling through the cracks. Millions of children from all walks of life, from coast to coast to coast, are affected. Our youngest citizens are in desperate need of help:

1 in 5 children live in poverty.

1 in 3 Canadians have experienced abuse before their 15th birthday.

Suicide is now the leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14.

The impact of COVID-19 on children’s health:

Pediatric infectious disease specialists say that vaccination rates among children have dropped as much as 20% in parts of Canada ramping up anxieties that the country could face a series of infectious outbreaks while still battling COVID-19.

In Canada, Kids Help Phone has reported an increase in specific conversations about physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

Among children aged 15 to 17, crowdsourced data suggests that 57% of participants reported their mental health was “somewhat worse” or “much worse” than it was prior to physical distancing measures during the pandemic.

Adults and children have different points of view on what the problems are and how to solve them. We need to continue to listen to adults, but we need to include children in the conversation and work more effectively together to achieve lasting change.

Kids can’t vote, but they have a voice. It’s time for Canadians to listen and act. We must ensure that children have the support, structure and tools to prosper. The future of our children and our country depends on it.

Yes, the problems are daunting. But the great news is that Canadians care deeply about the well-being of children and are committed to making a difference. Our research has revealed that there is strong public support for urgent action: three-quarters of Canadians (73% of adults and 77% of children) say that young people in Canada require more programs and services to safeguard their well-being and fulfil their potential.

And we don’t have to start from scratch; we know what is working in other countries and what steps are necessary to help Canada improve the lives of our youngest citizens.

The good news is that Canadians care about the well-being of children and support the urgent need for change. Nearly nine in 10 Canadians (87%) say that investing in children will pay off and save the need for additional expenditures in the future.

How will we measure our goals?

We have a clear plan of action to improve the lives of all children in Canada, by making it public, making it matter, and making it possible.

Children First Canada is committed to:

Raising awareness:

We are publishing groundbreaking research on the state of kids in Canada and sharing the information with Canadians and with the government through high profile events and through the media.

Empowering children:

We are listening to kids and building their knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves.

Developing policy solutions:

We are using the best evidence available to develop practical policies and make it as easy as possible for the government to act.

Building political and social will:

We are meeting with policy makers and helping them to act in the best interests of children. We are rallying children’s organizations as well as the private sector to work together. And we will be generating media buzz to get Canadians talking about what matters to kids.

Taking Action:

We will celebrate what’s working for kids and challenge what isn’t, and create a sense of urgency to make change happen.

Our Core Values

We are child- and youth-centred.

Children First Canada was built on the foundation of this one principle: nothing for children without children. They are citizens with rights. Children and youth deserve to participate in decisions that affect their lives.

We are bold and courageous.

Children First Canada has a bold and ambitious vision that together we can make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.© As an organization, we take bold steps to advance the rights and well-being of children and youth, and we courageously challenge the status quo. Side by side, we advocate for children and with children.

We are inclusive.

Children First Canada promotes the rights of every child – we don’t leave anyone behind. We are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion within our organization and for all 8 million kids in Canada. Children and youth can only reach their full potential when we confront the systemic racism and discrimination that permeate their lives and the communities in which they live. In and through our work, we seek to promote and exemplify reconciliation, anti-racism and anti-oppressive practices.

We are collaborative.

Children First Canada is mobilizing an alliance of Canada’s leading children’s charities, hospitals and research centres, corporations that invest in kids, parents, teachers and kids themselves. This is what makes us authentic. We all bring a unique perspective to the table, working together to advocate for and with children.

We are transparent and accountable.

Children First Canada works in consultation with children, youth, adults and various organizations with whom we build open and transparent relationships. As a registered charity, we conduct all of our activities with integrity and honesty. We are accountable to our Board of Directors, Council of Champions, Youth Advisory Council, Indigenous Advisory Council, staff, volunteers and donors. But most of all, we are proudly accountable to every child in Canada.

We are data-driven in our approach.

Children First Canada is a trusted source for reliable data about the state of childhood across the country. Our organization is also dedicated to providing evidence-based policy solutions to improve the lives of children. We educate and inform people with data, and then harness the facts in a powerful way to drive change. In partnership with leading research institutions, frontline agencies, and youth who are experts in their own lives, we tell the uncomfortable truth and pave the way for effective solutions – igniting hope that change is possible.

  • 1 We are child- and youth-centred.
  • 2 We are bold and courageous.
  • 3 We are inclusive.
  • 4 We are collaborative.
  • 5 We are transparent and accountable.
  • 6 We are data-driven in our approach.

Join Us!

Together, we can make Canada the best place for kids to grow up!©