Children First Canada Responds to the 2019 Federal Budget

Ottawa - Today’s budget, Investing in the Middle Class, included measures ranging from: skills training, seniors, housing measures aimed at millennials and the cost of pharmaceuticals.

Children First Canada has been advocating for a children’s budget, and we are pleased to see that the government’s GBA+ measures includes an increased focus on young people, signalling investments of almost $6 billion for measures aimed at youth. For the first time ever, the budget also included an accompanying budget booklet dedicated to young Canadians; while this additional analysis does not go as far as a children’s budget, it is an important step in the right direction.

“Children’s budgets are a proven strategy that have been used in jurisdictions around the world to ensure that investments are made towards evidence based programs that improve the lives of children and of future adults,” says Sara Austin, Founder and Chair of the Board of Children First Canada. “They create transparency to ensure that kids get their fair share of resources, and often do not result in more money spent, but in money being spent more wisely.”

The budget included some important measures related to children and youth, some highlights include:

  • $60 million over two years in additional funding for CanCode to engage young people from kindergarten to Grade 12 in coding and digital skills development.

  • $1.2 billion over three years Jordan’s Principle helps ensure that all First Nations children can access the health, social and education supports and services that they need, when and where they need them.  

  • $220 million over five years to support Inuit Children.

  • $15.2 million over three years for Indigenous Youth and Reconciliation.

  • $25 million over five years and $5 million per year to work with experienced partners to support a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service.

  • $30.5 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $1 million ongoing to address persistent gaps in harm reduction and treatment related to problematic opiod use and emerging challenges in responding to opioid overdoses across the country.   

  • $30 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $6 million per year ongoing, to enable Canadian sports organizations to promote accessible, ethical, equitable and safe sports.

  • $134.4 million over five years, on a cash basis, beginning in 2019–20 to create a food policy for Canada, including helping Canadian communities access healthy food.

  • $22.24 million over three years, starting 2019–20, to combat child sexual exploitation online.

  • Moving forward on implementing national pharmacare, which includes introducing the Canadian drug agency, $35 million over four years, starting in 2019-20.

Children First Canada welcomes these investments, many of which respond directly to the concerns raised in our Raising Canada report, concerning the alarming state of the health and wellbeing of Canada’s children.

While we welcome these investments in Canada’s young people, we continue to advocate for the establishment of a Commission for Children and Youth. Many of the promised investments in the budget focus on older youth and specifically enhancing their skills for the job market. “We need to support the health and wellbeing of our children, not only because it is the right thing to do, but so they can live full lives, becoming innovators, workers, parents and caregivers as adults. This particularly matters given Canada’s aging population – today’s kids are part of the solution for addressing the needs of tomorrow’s seniors.” says Alex Munter, CEO, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Children's Treatment Centre and member of Children First Canada’s Council of Champions. We believe the establishment of a Commission would ensure that kids have an independent advocate working to measurably improve their wellbeing and hold the government accountable.

We applaud the governments work on the Young Canadian’s budget, and we will continue to call on the government to leverage the important work being done by Children First Canada and our partners, towards developing a more robust action-oriented framework to protect children’s rights and ensure their wellbeing.  Although, today’s investments are important, we believe more can be done to address the root causes and measurably change the lives of Canada’s children.

The kids are not alright, and it’s time for Canada to measure up!

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About Children First Canada
Children First Canada has a bold and ambitious vision that together we can make Canada the best place in the world for kids to grow up.© We are working to improve children's wellbeing by building greater awareness amongst Canadians about the urgent needs of kids in our country, and mobilizing government, lawmakers and influencers to change the status quo.

Media contact:

Stephanie Mitton
Managing Director
Children First Canada
Cell: 613-581-4584