‘They’re more likely to become injured, become ill or even die from preventable diseases,’ says researcher.
Canada ranks 81st on the global Kids Rights Index, and 30th out of 38 affluent nations for protecting the well-being of children.
APTN News: The sixth annual “Raising Canada” report shows that by some measures, the quality of life for Canadian children is getting worse and that Indigenous children are also more susceptible to many of the issues researchers identified.
“They’re more likely to become injured, become ill, or even die from preventable diseases,” Sarah Austin, founder and CEO of Children First Canada, the children’s advocacy group told APTN News.
The 2022 report was written by Children First Canada and researchers from the Universities of Calgary, McGill, and Toronto.
It identified the following as the top 10 threats to childhood in Canada that include: Unintended and preventable injuries, poor mental health, violence, vaccine-preventable illnesses, systemic racism and discrimination, poverty, infant mortality, bullying, limited physical activity and play and climate change.
“I think, as many parents and people who care about kids, we were hoping that ad pandemic restrictions were lifted that life for children would be getting better but sadly, what we are seeing is that the situation is getting worse,” said Austin.
Austin said that these issues can’t be looked at in isolation. “We need to see a holistic view of what is happening in the lives of our children and we need to see a holistic plan by our provincial and federal leaders to tackle these issues,” she said.
Children in care
Statistics Canada released data from the 2021 census showing Indigenous children accounted for 53.8 per cent of all children in foster care.
Austin said that while it is not a new issue that there are high levels of Indigenous children represented in the foster care system, her organization continues to flag this issue because the country is not seeing progress.
“These are issues that are not to be put on the shoulders of kids or families these are issues impacted by systemic racism and discrimination,” said Austin. She also spoke about the ongoing impacts of colonialism, the legacy of residential schools, and intergenerational trauma as regular contributors.
Austin said that these issues “require urgent action and that needs investment on the part of our federal and provincial governments.