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What is the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being?

The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being will be a framework to benchmark our nation’s progress on child and youth well-being. This includes fulfilling children’s rights, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We want this Index to help young people achieve their dreams and guide our actions to achieve better results for kids.

How is life for the kids of Canada?

Many Canadians tell us they believe Canada must be one of the best places to be a kid. Kids see things differently. The facts say that we could definitely be better.

How does Canada Stack up?

For more than a decade, Canada has ranked in the middle of the world’s wealthy countries for overall child and youth well-being. UNICEF’s Index of Child and Youth Well-being has tracked the survival, health, protection and other aspects of kids’ lives with the best data available. It measures the good, the bad and a lot in between. Some countries remain at the top of the Index, while others have moved up to join them. Canada has been stuck in the middle for a decade. And when young people rate their own lives, our rank is much closer to the bottom.

Simply put, average is not good enough, particularly when we have the means to do so much better. We can, and must, do better.

UNICEF Canada Champions Lab Participant

TODAY, WE MEASURE: 25th out of 41 Rich Countries


Can Canada be the “best” place to grow up?

We are learning a lot from UNICEF Report Cards on what it will take to achieve better outcomes for and with kids.

We can learn from the ways Canada and other countries are making progress for children by understanding – and improving – where Canada lags farthest behind the best performing nations. It’s not okay that Canada’s GDP has continued to rise while progress for children is stalling. It’s not okay that children are the poorest group in Canada. It is time to do more to address the alarming rates of food insecurity, violence and other ways we are failing our kids. It is time to close the costly gaps that depress progress for all kids.

We need a vision for the road ahead to help the next generation of Canadians live happy and fulfilling lives.

UNICEF Canada Roundtable Participant

How will we know? Measuring progress to make progress

Thinking differently

The UNICEF Index has opened up new insights about what shapes the well-being of children and youth in rich countries. It has revealed that income inequality is a major influence. It has measured the stark differences between how kids feel about their lives and how adults see things. It has made crystal clear that public policy is the main reason that countries rank so differently for child and youth well-being.

Acting differently

It is clear we have to do better. The UNICEF Index has inspired governments at all levels and communities to measure and be accountable for the well-being of children and youth. On childcare, immunization and bullying, the Index has guided new investments, better policies and programs, and improved data. Canada’s governments, service and philanthropic organizations, citizens, and young people are doing important things to advance the well-being kids. Yet we heard from Canadians across the country that they want Canada to be at the top of the UNICEF Index. That means it’s time to do things differently.

Now under construction! The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being

Our Big Canadian Selfie

What's in the frame?

We are building on the UNICEF Index to create a better standard to measure and communicate how kids are experiencing life in Canada. Under construction with many collaborators, including the Canadian Index of Wellbeing/University of Waterloo, the Students Commission of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Child Health, our valued Advisory Group and young people across the country, the Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being will be a new way of looking at Canada.

Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being


UN Convention on the Rights of the Child


UNICEF Index of Child and Youth Well-being: Canada ranks 12


UNICEF Index of Child and Youth Well-being: Canada ranks 17


Discovery journey begins with Overlap Associates

8 stakeholder labs frame a collective vision of child and youth well-being - and a resolve to dream bigger and do better


First Design Week

Research on why wealthy countries achieve different rankings on the UNICEF Index

UNICEF Canada receives Citizenship Award from Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres


UNICEF Index of Child and Youth Inequality

UNICEF Canada and WorldVuze launch Better than Before, an online discussion with children and youth


UNICEF Index of Child and Youth Well-being based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Generation 2030 Foresight project launched

Partnership formed with the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW)/University of Waterloo

Release of report with the Students Commission on young people’s views on well-being

CIW report documenting the ways that child and youth well-being is measured

The Index Advisory Group kicks off with Design Principles, a Vision and Success Criteria developed with kids

Youth “Street Teams” gather views about childhood from communities

Beta Lab with Advisors

Workshops with diverse youth across the country

The Canadian Institute for Child Health identifies possible sources of data


Index Architecture Lab prototypes visual themes and statistical models with kids


Data review with expert validators

Beta prototype for the index

Gathering data, generating themes and visualization

Launching the index

Iterating and expanding the index


Canada ranks #1 on the UNICEF Index of Child and Youth Well-being and Sustainability

I like that this is strength-based and values-based.

Indigenous Roundtable Participant

U-REPORT is coming to a young person near you!

UNICEF Canada is committed to the ethical, rights-enhancing participation of children and youth in all stages of data development and use. To amplify young people’s views and explore new ways for them to design, gather and use data to improve their lives, UNICEF Canada and the Students Commission of Canada are prototyping U-Report. Globally, there are more than 4 million U-Reporters. Young people can anonymously share their opinion on important issues, providing real-time insights for decision-makers about what they think and what they are experiencing. For instance, Girl Guides partnered with UNICEF to run polls with over 30,000 U-Reporters on public harassment to show community leaders how it is a barrier to girls’ participation in their communities.

Global Kids Online

The eQuality project, in partnership with UNICEF Canada and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, will bring UNICEF’s Global Kids Online survey to Canada in 2018, led by Dr. Valerie Steeves (University of Ottawa). New data and insights will focus on the online experiences of Canadian youth, including the ways in which their knowledge of online privacy affects their experiences in the online environment. Learn more

You can move the needle!

The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being is a community of organizations, researchers and kids collaborating to measure, understand and inspire progress for and with children and youth. We are working to achieve faster, more equitable progress for children. We want to see better outcomes for the rising generation of kids – by 2030, when the Sustainable Development Goals mature.

*Your year of birth helps us tailor and prioritize youth specific activities and communications. All personal data is private and confidential.

Beat the Index Challenge

What if every community in Canada chose lagging indicators and made a plan to “beat” the national averages or the best performing countries on the UNICEF Index? We would ignite a virtuous cycle of raising community outcomes as well as the national averages - and make measurable progress up the Index.

Adopt an Indicator

The Canadian Index of Child and Youth Well-being will support people to create better conditions for children by enabling them to identify and prioritize the greatest challenges.

Design solutions with kids

We’re doing more than measuring challenges; we are working with kids and stakeholders to try out new solutions. Visit our Design Studio and tell us how we can work together.

The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends its children – their health and safety, their material security, their education and socialization, and their sense of being loved, valued, and included in the families and societies to which they were born.

UNICEF Report Card 7

Canada's Ranking