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Canadians want the government to prioritize spending on children

85 percent of respondents who take the view that the pandemic has had a negative impact on children’s social and emotional development.

The children, aged between six and 21, and hailing from front line zones in the Donetsk region, were staying at the Artek children's camp near Kyiv when Russia invaded February 24
The children, aged between six and 21, and hailing from front line zones in the Donetsk region, were staying at the Artek children's camp near Kyiv when Russia invaded February 24 - Copyright AFP Farooq NAEEM
The children, aged between six and 21, and hailing from front line zones in the Donetsk region, were staying at the Artek children's camp near Kyiv when Russia invaded February 24 - Copyright AFP Farooq NAEEM

March 2022 represents two years since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. In many countries pandemic measures are being relaxed, with variations in practice apparent across the globe.  

Is the relaxation in countries like Canada happening too fast? It would seem that this is a ‘yes’ according to a recent survey . Here the majority of Canadians (85 per cent) indicated that they are concerned about the future of children in Canada and they are keen for the government to prioritize spending on children’s policies and supports as part of any COVID-19 pandemic plan.

The data comes from Children First Canada and it finds that seventy-six percent of respondents said federal spending on children is important, with 29 per cent noting that they feel it is “very important.” That number increases to 39 per cent among respondents with children. The study found that parents were more concerned about long-lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on children.

The reason for this concern matches the 85 percent of respondents who take the view that the pandemic has had a negative impact on children’s social and emotional development. A similar proportion see the pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health and wellbeing of children in Canada.

There is a similar concern that the two-year period of disruption has disproportionately impacted vulnerable children and youth.

There are other societal factors too. For example, with economic indicators, 81 per cent of respondents, including parents, say the pandemic has increased inequality between families depending on household income and wealth.

Another significant area impacted is education. Here 77 percent of respondents say disrupted learning throughout the pandemic will have negative and long-term impacts on children and youth. As well as education, health has also been impacted with 74 percent of respondents suggesting that the pandemic has negatively impacted the physical health of children in Canada.

According to Children First Canada’s founder and CEO Sara Austin: “Kids are still in crisis. They are grappling with massive learning loss, mental and physical health issues, social isolation and many other challenges. We are facing a generational catastrophe that requires urgent and sustained support. As Canada rebuilds from the pandemic, there is nothing more critical than investing in our children.”

Children First Canada is calling on the Canadian government to prioritize a number of measures in the 2022 budget, including establishing a Federal Commissioner for Children and Youth and to develop a National Strategy for Children.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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