There is a global perception that Canada is a one of the better places in the world to raise children, thanks in part to its national health system. But a new report suggests that Canadian children have a much higher-than-expected level of suicide attempts, as well as undiagnosed mental illness and child abuse.
The new study was commissioned by the O’Brien Institute for Public Health and the organization Children First Canada and it examined a number of factors that impact children’s health, ranging from infant mortality to obesity and the number of children living in poverty. The results show that while Canada ranks as the world’s fifth-most prosperous country, it comes in 25th on the list of children’s health.
In the report, Children First director Sara Austin argued that the results meant the government needed to be more aggressive in its policies towards children’s health. That would mean additional money for government programs and more early intervention in children’s lives.
But conservative critics of the national health system argue there are no statistics that suggest more funding and additional government intervention will result in healthier children or a lessening in mental illness. Instead, they claim the best thing the government could do for Canada’s children would be to encourage Canadian businesses to thrive and create jobs, which would raise more Canadian families out of poverty.
“According to this study, 1.2 million Canadian children were living in low-income households,” said Sean Austin, head of the Canadian Business Institute. “The best thing we could do for these children is to create better-paying jobs for their parents, which would improve the family’s finances and the mental health of the children.”