TORONTO, 3 July 2019 – Canada ranks a disappointing 25th out of 41 wealthy countries in overall child well-being, driven by issues such as poverty, bullying and violence against children. While Canada’s 8 million children and youth are a fifth of the population, with no voting rights they do not get the same opportunity to shape policies that could make Canada a safer and happier place to grow up, says UNICEF Canada.
To ensure Canadians of voting age understand what is at stake, UNICEF Canada is launching #VoteForEveryChild, their first election advocacy campaign challenging voters to make their vote become a vote for every child in Canada and overseas.
“I’m two months off from being able to vote in the next federal election and it’s really frustrating. I think the voting age should be lowered to, at least, 16 because this affects youth just as much as it does adults,” said Samantha Walsh, 17, a volunteer with UNICEF Canada’s One Youth.
Children and youth are living with unacceptable levels of poverty, income inequality, violence, and food insecurity every day. Globally, children are experiencing more conflict, extreme violence and risk of harm today than at any other time in the last 30 years. Each day, 7,000 newborns around the world die from mostly preventable causes.
The #VoteForEveryChild campaign puts these issues at the center of the political discussion by encouraging voters to tell their candidates using social media, in letters, at their doors and at local events, that children and youth will be a higher priority when casting ballots.
“We must listen to children -- they are the experts in understanding the issues affecting them and they ought to play a role in shaping solutions,” said David Morley, UNICEF Canada’s President & CEO. “We will work hard during the campaign to make sure citizens hear the voices of young people across the country, and that includes reigniting the debate about lowering the voting age.”
UNICEF Canada is calling on Canadians to champion policies that would improve the lives of children in Canada and around the world:
- Reducing child poverty and income inequality. One in five children in Canada lives in poverty, and all children suffer from the impacts of income inequality;
- Ending funding shortfalls in public services provided to Indigenous children, like clean water, health care, education, and protection;
- Investing earlier in children’s lives. High quality early learning and childcare is not available or affordable for all families;
- Assessing how every policy, law and decision affects children and youth;
- Becoming a global leader to help eliminate all forms of violence against children in conflict;
- Continuing to invest in global health by increasing support for affordable, cost-efficient, comprehensive quality health care for women, adolescents, and children;
- Protecting children in the supply chain by creating legislation that requires companies that do business in Canada to identify, prevent and report about their human rights impacts in Canada and around the world;
- Lowering the voting age to 16 to ensure young people’s voices are heard in future elections.
To track opinions of young people, UNICEF Canada created U-Report, a polling platform for Canadians 13 to 24. In a recent U-Report poll, 71 per cent of respondents said they agree or strongly agreed with lowering the voting age to 16.
Results also showed that 83 per cent of U-Reporters feel that adults take their opinions seriously sometimes, rarely, or never. Moreover, 76 per cent did not know how to have their views included in politicians’ election platforms.
Voters can advocate for children and youth rights by joining the #VoteForEveryChild movement. Young people in Canada can sign up to become U-Reporters at https://www.facebook.com/ureportcanada to tell voters what they think about the issues affecting their lives.
About UNICEF Canada’s One Youth
From 25th to 1st place, UNICEF Canada’s One Youth is working to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up in. As the global UN agency for kids, UNICEF has worked to improve conditions for every child around the world for more than 70 years, and has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. UNICEF Canada’s One Youth brings that work to Canada, by building the new gold standard for measuring child well-being, and developing and testing innovative solutions to the challenges they face. We are calling on Canadians to take action and do better for children and youth.
UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations. For more information about UNICEF Canada’s One Youth, please visit http://www.oneyouthcanada.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
To arrange interviews or for more information please contact:
Communications Manager, UNICEF Canada
Tel./Tél.: +1 416 482 4444 ext/poste 8866 | +1 647 500 4230