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.
What needs to change?
Children First Canada is busting myths about what it is like to grow up in Canada.
Myth #1: Canada is one of the best places for kids to grow up
While the majority of Canadians believe we are a top 10 country to raise a child, the reality is starkly different. The harsh truth is that Canada is far from being a world-leading country for kids to grow up. Canada ranks 25th out of 41 affluent nations for children's wellbeing according to UNICEF, and we drop to the bottom ranks on key measures such as child poverty and children's health and safety.
Myth #2: most kids are just fine
We are not talking about a small handful of kids falling through the cracks. Millions of children from all walks of life, from coast to coast to coast, are affected. Our youngest citizens are in desperate need of help:
Nearly 1 in 5 children in Canada live in poverty - that’s 1.25 million kids in total.
1 in 5 teens have considered suicide in the past 12 months. That's more than a million youth.
1 in 3 Canadians have experienced some form of child abuse. Child abuse and neglect costs Canada an estimated $21.5 billion annually.
There are three times more First Nations children in child welfare are today than during the height of residential schools.
1 child dies every nine hours due to preventable injuries.
Myth #3: Adults know best
Adults and children have different points of view on what the problems are and how to solve them. We need to continue to listen to adults, but we need to include children in the conversation and work more effectively together to achieve lasting change.
Kids can’t vote, but they have a voice. It’s time that Canadians listened and acted. We must ensure that children have the support, structure, and tools to prosper. The future of our children and our country depends on it.
Myth #4: The problems are too big to solve
Yes, the problems are daunting, but the great news is that Canadians care deeply about children's wellbeing and are committed to making a difference. Our research has revealed that there is strong public support for urgent action: three-quarters of Canadians (73 percent of adults and 77 percent of children) say that young people in Canada require more programs and services to safeguard their wellbeing and fulfill their potential.
And we don’t have to start from scratch; we know what is working in other countries and what steps are necessary to help Canada improve the lives of our youngest citizens.
The good news is that Canadians care about the wellbeing of children and support the urgent need for change. Nearly nine-in-ten Canadians (87 percent) say that investing in children will pay off and save the need for additional expenditures in the future.
How We Will Measure Our Goals
We have a clear plan of action to improve the lives of all children in Canada, by making it public, making it matter, and making it possible.
Children First Canada is committed to:
Raising awareness: We are publishing ground breaking research on the state of kids in Canada and sharing the information with Canadians and with the government through high profile events and through the media.
Empowering children: We are listening to kids and building their knowledge and skills to advocate for themselves.
Developing policy solutions: We are using the best evidence available to develop practical policies and make it as easy as possible for the government to act.
Building political and social will: We are meeting with policymakers and helping them to act in the best interest of children. We are rallying children’s organizations as well as the private sector to work together. And we will be generating media buzz to get Canadians talking about what matters to kids.
Taking action: We will celebrate what’s working for kids and challenge what isn’t, and create a sense of urgency to make change happen.