Ottawa, 19 March 2019 – The federal government’s latest budget includes welcome new investments in children and youth, said UNICEF Canada’s One Youth. Important funding is promised to First Nations, Métis and Inuit children to help close gaps in basic services and a renewed focus on child and youth mental health. New initiatives also include making post-secondary education more accessible, environmental initiatives to improve air quality and programs to make housing and medication more affordable.
“As children and youth make up 20 per cent of the Canadian population, we’re pleased that decision makers are listening to them and working to address issues that directly affect them,” said Carleen McGuinty, UNICEF Canada’s Deputy Director, International Policy & Programs. “However, the Government of Canada must continue its focus on children and youth and work to reach the most vulnerable boys and girls in Canada and worldwide.”
UNICEF Canada is pleased to see a planned increase in Canada’s International Assistance Envelope and the renewal of humanitarian assistance and international development as part of the Middle East strategy.
Canada currently ranks a disappointing 25th out of 41 rich nations in child and youth well-being. The One Youth campaign is tracking 125 indicators to better understand what life is like for young people in Canada while working with them to advance solutions that will make this country the best place in the world to grow up.
The federal government could make Canada a world leader in investing in children in Canada and globally by adding these affordable priorities to their to-do list:
- The Children’s Dividend: Building on the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for the lowest income families to reduce the child poverty rate to 5 per cent, from 12 per cent. It would cost about $12 billion, or 4 per cent of program spending in the 2019 budget, to virtually eliminate child poverty in Canada.
- The Best Start for Every Child: Many families cannot afford high quality early learning and child care. One Youth is calling for the federal contribution to the multilateral Early Learning and Child Care Framework to rise to $4 billion per year within four years, and work toward a contribution level of 6 per cent of the budget for children under 6, who represent 6 per cent of the population.
- Fairness for Indigenous Children: Budget 2019 proposes to invest $1.2 billion over three years to alleviate service gaps for First Nations children and honour Jordan’s Principle, furthering recent new investments to improve child welfare and education. Adopting the Spirit Bear Plan proposed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, and endorsed by the Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations, would strengthen this initiative by permanently ending shortfalls in federally-funded public services provided to First Nations children.
- Put Children First in Decision-Making: Children do not get to vote and hold governments accountable. The federal government needs a Child Rights Impact Assessment to clearly show in budgets and economic updates what it spends on children and youth. It would cost little to implement yet show how the government is prioritizing kids.
- Keep leading on Global Health: Canada’s leadership globally on women's and children’s health has helped reach some of the most vulnerable and has contributed to the significant decline in child mortality since 1990. While there has been progress, it has not been shared equally within and between countries. We welcome the continuation of ongoing conversations around new and ambitious funding to newborn, child, adolescent, women’s health, nutrition and rights to ensure no child is left behind.
- Protect the Most Vulnerable: As the nature of conflict and displacement of populations is ever changing and becoming increasingly challenging to address, children are facing new realities of extreme violence, fragility and risks to their development and futures. Canada should build on established global leadership and scale up efforts to protect the world’s most vulnerable children on all frontiers.
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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