VANCOUVER, January 16, 2017—UNICEF Canada President and CEO David Morley has spent his life advocating for children around the world and is concerned that Canada is one of the more unequal societies for children and youth, ranking 26th out of 35 rich nations.
“When I talk to Canadians, it’s clear that we like to think of ours as a country that is a great place for children to grow up,” says Morley. “That is true in many respects, but far too often we are coming up short, and our children are paying the price. For a nation of our economic and social resources, the well-being of all of our young people can, and must, be higher.”
That’s the message that Morley will bring to students, community advocates and the general public on Jan. 16 and 17, 2017 for a two-day speaker series in Vancouver. Value BC: Equality for All is organized by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and co-sponsors listed below.
“We have a vision for the future in which Canada is number one for children and youth, not only in league tables of child well-being, but in the eyes of young people themselves,” says Morley. “This two-day event is a piece of the puzzle. We must continue to engage with children and youth, service providers, policy-makers and the private sector to create and implement the innovative solutions required to make our vision a reality.”
Over the course of the two days, Morley will be highlighting the findings from UNICEF’s report, Fairness for Children: Canada’s Challenge, in a student roundtable at the University of British Columbia and in an online presentation to community advocates across the province. The series will also feature a free, public event hosted by the Simon Fraser University Centre of Dialogue on Jan. 16, 2017.
Key findings on child well-being in Canada:
- Overall, Canada ranks 26th out of 35 rich nations, putting it at the back of the pack.
- Most equity gaps in areas of child well-being showed no improvement in Canada over the last decade.
- The widest gaps between children were in income inequality and unhealthy eating.
- Of the 41 most affluent countries, Canada ranks 24th in the level of income inequality. The poorest children in Canada have family incomes 53 per cent lower than the average child.
- One quarter of Canada’s kids report daily symptoms of poor health – can’t sleep, feeling sick or anxious. This is usually linked to difficulties with peers, at school or at home. Feeling that way on a daily basis interferes with learning, with relationships, with long-term health and risk behaviours like bullying and drug use.
“We are failing our children, the future of our province, by not providing what they need to reach their full potential,” says Trish Garner, Community Organizer with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. “High levels of inequality negatively affect the health of everyone because inequality reduces social cohesion, leading to more stress, fear and insecurity for all of us.”
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, which includes almost 400 organizations across the province, hopes that the events will raise awareness about the impact of children’s inequality and poverty, and highlight the need for a provincial poverty reduction plan to improve the health and well-being of our children and all British Columbians.
This will be the launch of the Value BC: Equality, Justice and Prosperity for All event series, bringing high-profile speakers to Vancouver in January, February and March to raise awareness and generate productive conversations about our collective issues and responsibilities.
Hosted by SFU Centre for Dialogue: Value BC: Equality for All
Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings Street
Monday, January 16th
An evening of dialogue with David Morley, UNICEF Canada; Adrienne Montani, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition; Viveca Ellis, Single Mothers’ Alliance
Free but space limited so please register here.
Hosted by UBC Sustainability Fair: UBC Student Roundtable
Lower Level of the AMS Student Nest, 6133 University Blvd, UBC
Monday, January 16th
FREE Public Event
Province-wide Webinar: Value BC: Equality for All
Tuesday, January 17th
Presenters: David Morley, UNICEF Canada; Adrienne Montani, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
Available for media across the province – register here.
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UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more. UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca. For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit unicef.ca.
The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition aims to see the introduction of a bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan from the government of British Columbia that would include legislated targets and timelines to significantly reduce poverty and homelessness.
For more information, contact:
Trish Garner, Community Organizer, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
firstname.lastname@example.org / 604-417-8885
Co-sponsors: SFU Centre for Dialogue, Community Legal Assistance Society, BC Alliance on Mental Health/Illness and Addictions, and Vancouver Coastal Health