Publication Date: 2024/04/16

Budget 2024 takes historic steps to address child poverty, yet more progress is needed to reach every child. 

TORONTO, April 16, 2024 - Children today are facing a ‘polycrisis’ of generational shocks and stresses including high costs of living, record-breaking rises in temperatures due to climate change, and the lasting impacts of the most severe pandemic in a century. To address this, Canada's 2024 federal budget needed to demonstrate a solid plan that puts children and youth health and well-being back on the front foot. 

This budget takes important steps in that direction. The announcement of a federal investment in a national School Food program fulfills a promise UNICEF Canada and many other advocates - including young people - have been calling for. “Consistent access to nutritious food at home and at school is the backbone of a healthy childhood,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, President & CEO of UNICEF Canada. “This investment brings Canada closer to the day when every child in our country has a healthy meal every day at school; something that can make a tremendous difference in children’s health, learning and inclusion.”

Canada’s progress to provide inclusive childcare is also advanced with Budget 2024. To get every child off to the best start in life, Canada must continue to prioritize the care of our youngest members of society including making care policies more inclusive. This means ensuring every newborn has at least six months of adequately paid, protected time with a parent or caregiver at birth. Today, more women are in the workforce than ever before, but close to one in three infants in Canada has a parent unable to access parental leave due to the precarious nature of their employment or lack of employment. Budget 2024 announces consultations toward a National Caregiving Strategy: an opportunity to advance inclusive and better parental leave. Early years are the foundational building blocks of a child’s life; there is no more impactful set of days in one’s life than our first 1,000. 

Internationally, we welcome the commitment to invest an additional $350 million over two years in international humanitarian assistance. With conflicts raging in Gaza, Sudan and Haiti and many other humanitarian crises growing in complexity, Canada’s historic leadership in global education, health and nutrition continues to be needed more than ever. “Today, nearly a quarter of the world’s children are living in or fleeing from conflict zones,” said Palvetzian. “Children worldwide should not be paying with their lives and their futures. As the host of the G7 Summit in 2025, Canada must continue to lead by example by strengthening the critical services that children rely on, like healthcare, water, sanitation and education.”

Climate change is also worsening the scale and intensity of global emergencies. Nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion children are living in countries at extremely high risk of the impacts of climate change. Canada’s climate actions need to reflect the unique and disproportionate impact on children: jeopardizing their health, creating food and water insecurity, and limiting access to education. 

In a world increasingly affected by brutal conflicts, poverty, and the effects of the climate crisis, Canada is demonstrating it has the tools and resources to be a champion for children’s rights and well-being. Budget 2024 takes some important steps forward to address child well-being and lays the groundwork for the other critical commitments needed to ensure every child, everywhere, has the best possible start in life.

Remove this and add your HTML markup here.


UNICEF is the world’s leading humanitarian organization focused on children. We work in the most challenging areas to provide protection, healthcare and immunizations, education, safe water and sanitation and nutrition. As part of the United Nations, our unrivaled reach spans more than 190 countries and territories, ensuring we are on the ground to help the most disadvantaged children. While part of the UN system, UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations to finance our life-saving work. Please visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For further information please contact: