How UNICEF Canada is keeping children safe during COVID-19 | UNICEF Canada: For Every Child Skip to main content

Our recommendations for Canada

UNICEF is committed to supporting Canadian children and families during the global COVID-19 pandemic. Working closely with the World Health Organization and our other humanitarian partners, we’re advising the Government of Canada, as well as provincial and territorial leaders, to take important steps to protect children.

We urge all governments and community leaders to follow these recommendations:

HEALTH

  • Offer practical tips and resources to parents, teachers and caregivers to help children of all ages cope with stress and anxiety related to COVID-19.
  • Increase support for family and child helplines and youth programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

EDUCATION

  • Help prevent stigma by encouraging children to be kind to each other when talking about the COVID-19 virus.
  • Encourage kids to ask questions to reduce fear and anxiety around COVID-19, and help them cope with its impact on their lives.
  • During school closures, make sure children can keep learning by giving families remote learning options and providing a normal daily routine, and reaching out to students at risk of falling behind.
  • Offer mental health support to protect children and keep them safe at school after schools reopen.
  • Make sure schools have any extra support they may need after re-opening.

NUTRITION

  • Make sure kids who rely on school meal programs receive meals while schools are closed.
  • Help transport groceries to communities where food shortages can hit vulnerable families hard.

PROTECTION AND WELFARE

  • Provide emergency funds to support safe community spaces for children who may be at risk of abuse or left alone if parents can’t supervise them due to work, illness or other demands.
  • Work with children’s services to protect children who are separated from their family due to hospitalization, travel restrictions, quarantine or self-isolation, and sustain family contact for children in protective care or custody.

INCOME SECURITY

  • Provide emergency income support to help families facing job loss related to COVID-19, so they can continue to support their children’s nutrition, health, housing and safety.
  • Use emergency funds to encourage employers to protect their workers, including youth employees, so they can help support their families.

INFORMATION

  • Make sure adults and children know how to protect themselves from COVID-19 by providing the best access to accurate information about the virus.
  • Use online partners like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok to share up-to-date, age-appropriate information about COVID-19.
  • Communicate regularly to keep families safe, avoid discrimination and support parents and children in their communities.

We will continue to adapt and respond as more is discovered about the virus and its effect on children and families.

Thank you for your ongoing support to help protect the rights of children in these challenging circumstances.  

Yrysbibi, 9, eats lunch at a primary school in Turkestan city, Kazakhstan, where her mother is a teacher.
Yrysbibi, 9, eats lunch at a primary school in Turkestan city, Kazakhstan. [© UNICEF/UN0339616/Kaliyev]

Our Recommendations Around the World

What started as a crisis in one small area is now a crisis for the world. Many regions will be unable to cope with the pressure the virus will bring on fragile health systems and vulnerable communities. UNICEF needs your support to act fast and keep children and families safe.

Here are some of the life-saving initiatives we’re planning and putting into place around the world. 

Refugee-affected countries

In refugee-affected countries around war-torn Syria, the risk of infection is especially high among people living in close quarters.

  • Syria - create a system to provide emergency care for children separated from their virus-affected families
  • Lebanon - give lifesaving nutrition supplies during interruption to health services 
  • Jordan - supply soap, sanitizers and cleaning products for schools, health facilities and youth centres in refugee camps; create printed school resources for online learning in grades 1-3

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

  • Armenia - train and guide 2,000 teachers to manage online classes and student support while children are out of school 
  • Azerbaijan - outfit 10,000 teachers, social workers, community and youth volunteers working with children with critical protective wear and sanitizers 
  • Italy - develop urgent guidance plans for the asylum reception system to keep children who have arrived alone safe from the virus 
  • Kosovo - provide specialist support for 6,100 vulnerable children and children with disabilities 
  • Serbia - support televised education for some 825,000 children forced to be out of school, including sign language and diverse languages for children from minorities

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Belize - provide 1,500 children with fortified food baskets while their school lunch program is suspended due to the virus
  • Bolivia - train 42,000 teachers on remote classes and student support to keep children learning during school closure
  • Brazil - reach 20,000 young people with youth-friendly prevention information through peer educators in schools 
  • Guyana - deliver banner ad campaign in six languages to reach 436,000 people with health messages 
  • Haiti - provide counselling and alternative care and support for children separated from their families by the virus 
  • Jamaica - provide 50 large scale water tanks to schools without running water to facilitate handwashing for 7,500 children 

West Africa

  • Burkina Faso - reach 3 million people with critical health and hygiene education messages broadcast through radio, TV and print media
  • The Central African Republic - provide enough lab capacity, supplies and medical kits for the diagnosis and care of 5,000 COVID-19 patients 
  • Benin - provides deep cleaning supplies for 10,000 schools to ensure they are safe for re-opening 
  • Ghana - provide handwashing information and supplies to 4,000 girls and boys, including children with disabilities living in residential care facilities
  • East and Southern Africa
  • Ethiopia - create a fully-equipped treatment centre for COVID-19 patients
  • Kenya - reach one million people with hygiene and health messages broadcast through social media and other platforms
  • South Africa - deploy 20 handwashing stations in childcare centres throughout townships 

East Asia and the Pacific

  • Malaysia - deliver hygiene education to 30,000 of the most vulnerable undocumented children and 300 teachers in alternative learning centres 
  • Myanmar - provide infection, prevention and control supplies for 10 hospitals and 500 schools, health and quarantine facilities 
  • Papua New Guinea - train 3,500 health workers to detect, refer and manage virus cases in young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women