A recently released report by Children First Canada reports that children’s rights have been violated during the pandemic. Maritime experts say we have to act.
The report paints a chilling picture of what children across the country are facing – problems that only intensified during the pandemic.
Some of the threats listed in the report are food insecurity, mental health, child abuse, systemic racism and poverty.
Sara Austin is the Founder and CEO of Children First Canada and she believes government and society have let children down in a colossal way.
“Children have made enormous sacrifices throughout the pandemic to protect their elders and keep our communities safe. They’ve dropped out of school, birthday parties, sports and more, ”she told Global News from her Calgary office.
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“When the time came for us as adults to do our part for children, unfortunately as a society we failed them. Despite the overwhelming evidence that children are not doing well and that children are in a state of crisis, so little has been done. “
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Heading into the federal election, Austin says she is dismayed that political parties have largely ignored children’s issues – something that keeps her awake at night.
“Roughly enough, one of the factors is that kids can’t vote. Children are not decision-makers when it comes to electing our officials and so it can be quite easy to overlook these issues, ”she said.
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Nova Scotia is currently the only province in Atlantic Canada that does not have a child and youth advocate in government. However, the new Minister of Community Services, Karla MacFarlane, is determined to move forward.
At Thursday’s cabinet meeting, she said she believes the post is important because it gives young people a voice.
“It gives them a voice and a direct connection to government and shows that we care about ourselves and want to listen to their concerns. “
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Child psychologist Dr. Jill Chorney, who works at the IWK Health Center, echoes the importance of this role.
“Children and youth have voices and their voices need to be heard and included in how we make decisions in the future. We do a lot to try to involve young people and families in making decisions about their care, ”she said. “It is important that we also involve young people and children in the way we run our services.
According to the report, over the past decade, Canada has fallen from 10th to 30th place among rich countries for child welfare, but there remains a lingering myth that Canada is one of the best. places in the world to raise a child.
Nearly one in five Canadian children live in poverty, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
More than 41,000 children living in poverty in Nova Scotia, and the number is growing, study finds
Alec Stratford is Executive Director and Registrar of the Nova Scotia College for Social Workers. He told Global News that Nova Scotia has one of the lowest income assistance rates as well as one of the lowest wages in the country, leading to food insecurity.
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“We have very few food policies in Nova Scotia. When food banks came into play in the 1980s and 1990s, they were meant to be an interim measure. They were meant to be used in an emergency and we would develop a social policy to help alleviate that problem, ”he said.
“They have now become a staple in how people access food. They are very stigmatizing.
Minister MacFarlane said child poverty rates in Nova Scotia are of great concern and said it was her number one priority to reduce levels of child poverty.
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