Na­tional study sounds the alarm about the state of Canada’s chil­dren

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Prairies - CON­TRIB­UTED

As kids head back to school, a new re­port re­leased Sept. 4 sounds the alarm about the state of Canada’s chil­dren. The study high­lights deeply wor­ri­some sta­tis­tics that re­quire im­me­di­ate ac­tion, in­clud­ing stag­ger­ingly high rates of men­tal health is­sues, poverty, obe­sity and mor­tal­ity.

En­ti­tled ‘Rais­ing Canada’ the re­port has been re­leased by Chil­dren First Canada and the O’Brien In­sti­tute for Pub­lic Health, along with ‘A Call to Ac­tion’ signed by Canada’s lead­ing heads of chil­dren’s char­i­ties and hos­pi­tals, re­search in­sti­tutes, and cor­po­ra­tions that in­vest in chil­dren’s is­sues. The re­port is based on data from Sta­tis­tics Canada, the Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion (CIHI), the Cana­dian In­sti­tute of Child Health (CICH), Health Canada, and the Pub­lic Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). More in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at Chil­, but some of the high­lights in­clude:

· MOR­TAL­ITY o The lead­ing causes for child­hood deaths in Canada are pre­ventable ac­ci­dents and in­juries and sui­cide;

o Canada’s rate of in­fant mor­tal­ity is among the high­est of OECD coun­tries. Al­berta has a fairly low in­fant mor­tal­ity rate, rank­ing fourth out of all the prov­inces with 4.4 deaths per 1,000). Nu­navut has the high­est rate, with 17.7 – more than dou­ble any other province).


o Over the last 10 years there has been a 66 per cent in­crease in emer­gency depart­ment vis­its, and a 55 per cent in­crease in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, of chil­dren and youth (age 5-24 years) due to men­tal health con­cerns; 4,611 chil­dren were hos­pi­tal­ized in Al­berta for men­tal health con­cerns in 2016 to 2017, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian In­sti­tute for Health In­for­ma­tion.

o Sui­cide is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death for Cana­dian chil­dren and youth, and Canada is ranked in the top five coun­tries for the high­est child sui­cide rates glob­ally.


o 27.9 per cent of chil­dren age 12-17 re­ported be­ing over­weight or obese; Al­berta is the third health­i­est province, with 26 per cent of chil­dren clas­si­fied as over­weight or obese, ac­cord­ing to Sta­tis­tics Canada. (No data pro­vided from the ter­ri­to­ries)

o 25 per cent of chil­dren have not re­ceived the full 4 rec­om­mended doses of diph­the­ria, whoop­ing cough, and tetanus vac­cine by age 2;

o 35 per cent of 5-17 year olds meet­ing the daily rec­om­mended guide­lines for phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.


o 1.2 mil­lion chil­dren live in low­in­come hous­ing; Al­berta has the least num­ber of chil­dren in low in­come house­holds, (12.8 per cent) ac­cord­ing to the 2016 Cen­sus (Cen­sus did not in­clude data from ter­ri­to­ries).

o 10.7 per cent of fam­i­lies with chil­dren un­der 6 years of age say they ex­pe­ri­ence food in­se­cu­rity.


o One in three Cana­di­ans re­ports hav­ing suf­fered some form of child abuse be­fore the age of 16;

o 26 per cent ex­pe­ri­enced phys­i­cal abuse, 10 per cent ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual abuse, and eight per cent had ex­po­sure to in­ti­mate part­ner vi­o­lence.


o In 2013-14, 17,500 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions of chil­dren and youth were for in­juries, 3,000 of which were in­ten­tional/caused by oth­ers.

“Many Cana­di­ans think this is one of the best coun­tries in the world to raise a child, but the sta­tis­tics prove oth­er­wise,” says said Sara Austin, founder and Lead Di­rec­tor of Chil­dren First Canada. She notes that Canada con­sis­tently ranks far be­hind most other af­flu­ent na­tions for the well­be­ing of chil­dren, fall­ing in 25th place ac­cord­ing to UNICEF. Among the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions: · The es­tab­lish­ment of a na­tional Com­mis­sion for Chil­dren and Youth: an in­de­pen­dent gov­ern­ment of­fice to pro­mote the best in­ter­ests of chil­dren and hold gov­ern­ment ac­count­able.

· The im­ple­men­ta­tion of a chil­dren’s bud­get to track na­tional in­vest­ment in chil­dren, en­sure the eq­ui­table dis­tri­bu­tion of re­sources, while en­sur­ing funds are al­lo­cated to­wards ev­i­dence­based so­lu­tions for chil­dren.

· The full im­ple­men­ta­tion of the UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child and the Cana­dian Chil­dren’s Char­ter.

The Cana­dian Chil­dren’s Char­ter is a doc­u­ment drafted by Chil­dren First Canada with in­put from thou­sands of chil­dren and youth from across the coun­try.

The doc­u­ment lays a roadmap for Canada to be­come a world-lead­ing coun­try for kids, call­ing for ur­gent ac­tion to re­spect, pro­tect and ful­fill the rights of ev­ery child in Canada.

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