In 2007, Canada’s Minister of Health asked Dr. K. Kellie Leitch to serve as the Advisor on Healthy Children and Youth. Dr. Leitch consulted with experts, parents, and children and youth across Canada, and developed a number of recommendations. The full report can be found here.  

The following is an excerpt from the report:

Vulnerability not permanentAs Canadians, we believe that ours is a society in which our children and youth should lead happy, healthy lives. At the time this Report was written, Canada ranked 13th out of 21 OECD countries in terms of the health and safety of our children and youth, showing that there is much room for improvement. We owe it to our children to do better.

That starts with setting bold, visionary goals. Canada has the potential and the ability to be the number one place in the world for a child to grow up in from a health perspective. We have the resources and the capabilities to reach this goal.

Canadian children and youth from all socio-economic backgrounds are vulnerable. Vulnerability is measured by key behavioural and cognitive tests measuring vocabulary, mathematics, emotional health, and violent behaviour tendencies.

Vulnerability in childhood and youth is not a permanent state~

The Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth revealed that many vulnerable children did not remain the same from one cycle to the next. The percentage of vulnerable children (28%) remained unchanged; however, in the second cycle, 16% were no longer considered vulnerable, while a new 15% of children became vulnerable. While 13% remained vulnerable throughout both cycles, the results suggest that 87% of children may experience vulnerability, but the situation is not permanent.

New Research: Vulnerability is Not Permanent

Graph indicating percentage of children experiencing levels of vulnerability from 1994 to 1996
Source: Human Resources Development Canada – Applied Research Branch (2000).

This is great news: it means that investments in best practice services and targeted initiatives can have a direct impact on improving and shaping the lives of Canadian children and youth. But to be successful, investments need to be made in the right programs and policies. These policies and programs must be built upon evidence based research, and performance-based techniques. They must also be delivered in a professional, outcome-driven way.

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