How Canada cares for and nurtures its younger generations is our clearest possible expression of collective values and national well-being. Ensuring the health and well-being of all children and youth is a shared responsibility, with family, community and public institutions each playing key roles. At its broadest level, care means governments enacting evidence-based public policies that safeguard and enhance physical and mental health, safety and well-being.
While children and youth make up one-quarter of Canada’s population, they are disadvantaged politically by not being eligible to vote. However, the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) knows what a powerful tool public policy advocacy can be in keeping child and youth issues on the national agenda. We have years of experience making sure that best practice and medical evidence inform public policies affecting children and youth. Through their daily work with children, CPS members recognize how investing in child and youth health and family health promotion can net huge gains – both human and financial.1 The purpose of this report is to share these insights and accompanying evidence-based recommendations with policy makers.
This 5th edition of the status report reviews current policy on critical fronts while specifying improvements and raising the public profile of key paediatric issues. Since its first release in 2005, Are We Doing Enough? has examined and evaluated how effectively each provincial/territorial government protects and promotes the health and well-being of children and youth on select measures. This report also assesses the federal government’s performance in key areas. The report’s new online format will allow us to track progress and update ratings as needed.
Canada has certainly come a long way since 2005. Governments are doing better in many critical areas. Provinces and territories with tough anti-smoking legislation show reduced smoking rates among youth. The number of publicly funded vaccines has increased significantly. Legislation to prevent youth from accessing tanning booths has been implemented across all provinces. However, on every measure contained in this report, there is still work to do. Are We Doing Enough? highlights areas of provincial/territorial strength, as well as weakness, and is intended to help child and youth health advocates, caring agencies and individual governments compare progress on key issues and improve public policy.
As in previous editions, Are We Doing Enough? assesses public policy in four major areas:
- Disease prevention
- Health promotion
- Injury prevention
- Best interests of children and youth
New key issues evaluated in this report include breastfeeding promotion, child death review processes and the management of type 1 diabetes in schools.
We hope this status report provides direction and impetus for all advocates and policy-makers who take the best interests of children and youth to heart – and then a few steps further, into ‘city hall’ or the corridors of government.
Information included in the web version of this report is updated on a regular basis and is obtained from government documents, credible web resources and personal correspondence.
The CPS would like to thank the following non-governmental organizations for their assistance in validating information: the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada; the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program at the Hospital for Sick Children; the Diabetes at School Advisory Group; the Jordan’s Principle Working Group; McMaster University’s machealth; Moms, Boobs and Babies (MBB); the NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank; Parachute; and the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute.
- Pekeles G; Canadian Paediatric Society. Make your voice heard: Don’t let the report on child and youth health fade away. Paediatr Child Health 2008;13(5):363-4.