UNICEF Canada and dozens of Canadian celebrities shine spotlight on challenges facing youth in Canada
TORONTO, May 22, 2018 – A recent UNICEF report comparing the well-being of children in the richest countries around the world placed Canada an alarming 25th among the 41 countries measured. These rankings haven’t improved in more than a decade, which has UNICEF Canada partnering with top Canadian celebrities to do something about it.
Today, UNICEF Canada launches a new ad campaign to highlight “One Youth” – a groundbreaking initiative with the mission to make Canada the best place in the world to grow up in by 2030. The campaign brings together dozens of Canadian celebrities to have a chat with Canada. With the words, “Canada, We Need to Talk,” Canadian celebrities are starting the conversation about kids living in poverty, teen suicide rates, bullying and other subjects where Canada desperately needs to improve. The campaign drives to OneYouthCanada.ca, and encourages Canadians to take action – with a set goal of achieving #8MillionActions (one for every Canadian youth) by World Children’s Day on November 20, 2018, and provides dozens of ideas for how all Canadians can get involved.
“Every child in Canada has the right to the best possible opportunities and outcomes. Right now, that’s not what many of them are getting,” said David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. “Our society has grown more unequal and children and youth are paying the price. But Canada has what it takes to do better.”
The campaign features more than twenty Canadian celebrities including actors Keanu Reeves, Elisha Cuthbert, Cobie Smulders, Eugene Levy, Jay Baruchel, Patrick Adams, Jason Priestley, Neve Campbell, Xavier Dolan, Marc-André Grondin, Eric McCormack and Matthew Santoro; musical artists Celine Dion, Avril Lavigne, Alessia Cara, Stephen Voyce and Ian Campeau; TV host Alex Trebek; tennis star Eugenie Bouchard; comedian Sugar Sammy; chef Antonio Park; film director Denis Villeneuve; and retired Canadian Women’s Soccer Team goalie Karina LeBlanc – all who donated their time and energy to UNICEF Canada’s One Youth.
McCann Worldgroup Canada, and FH Studio worked pro bono on the project to enlist Canadian celebrities to the cause. “We’d like to thank McCann and FH studios for their great contribution to this campaign,” said Morley. “By bringing together dozens of Canadian celebrities to speak up on key issues affecting youth well-being, we hope more Canadians will feel the urge to act, and governments will continue their momentum to create great conditions for growing up.”
UNICEF Canada’s One Youth is working with partners and youth to build the new gold standard for measuring children’s well-being customized to the Canadian experience, and developing and testing new solutions to the challenges they face. It is calling on Canadians to take action and to aim higher for children and youth. This is one of the organization’s first campaigns highlighting issues right here at home.
“The time has come to leave the status quo behind and speak up for and with kids across the country,” said Morley.
One Youth is currently funded in partnership with the Lyle S. Hallman Foundation, the Lawson Foundation and Intact Foundation.
UNICEF Key Findings
- Canada is ranked 32nd out of 41 countries in children who are living at or below the poverty level. In fact, one in five Canadian children live at or below the poverty level; for perspective, children in Korea, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany all fair better on this measure than children in Canada do.
- Canada comes in almost dead last in ensuring reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food for children, at 37th out of 41 countries. In fact, one in six Canadian children live with some level of food insecurity every day.
- Canada places 31st in teen suicide, even higher than the United States.
- Canada is ranked 29th in unhealthy weight. In fact, one in four Canadian teens is overweight or obese, similar to the results in the United States.
- Although we consider ourselves a peaceful and tolerant nation, Canada has the 5th-highest rate of bullying among the measured countries in the study.
“What do we do when someone has a problem, but doesn’t want to acknowledge it. We want this campaign to be a real wake-up call for Canada, to change things for our future. For a positive future we simply have to do better for kids today.”
- Pascal DeDecker, Executive Creative Director at McCann Montreal
“Child poverty is one of the most pressing issues affecting Canada. As one of our key philanthropic investment areas, we support initiatives like UNICEF’s One Youth movement to help find innovative and impact-driven solutions, so that, together, we will build communities where all children can thrive.'
- Monika Federau, Chief Strategy Officer at Intact Financial Corporation
“One Youth is important because it sheds light on the issues that affect young people in Canada. It looks at how we can improve the lives of youth in Canada and make our great country the best place to live. Young people in Canada need a platform to vocalize the issues that affect us and our communities. One Youth gives us hope for a better future.”
- Olivia Lam, 17, Student
“Canada is increasingly perceived on the world scene as a country that is ready and willing to provide leadership on important societal issues. While that may be true, as we attempt to play such a role, we need to address the challenges that confront so many of our children and youth here at home. And we need to do it now! One Youth is a major national initiative that will help us do just that.”
- Marcel Lauziere, President and CEO, The Lawson Foundation
“Canada is long overdue for a national conversation about what we want for our kids, and what it will take to get there. We see One Youth as a disruptive and dynamic way to spark that conversation, creating space for the voices of children and youth themselves to lead the dialogue. Let’s talk about what Canada is really like for young people. Let’s listen. Let’s act.”
- Laura Manning, Executive Director, Lyle S Hallman Foundation
“When I read the statistics about poverty, food security, suicide, and bullying in Canada…I was shocked. As Canadians we can do better – we must do better for our children. They’re our future – and far too many are being left behind.”
- Cobie Smulders, Actress