Are We Doing Enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health

Last updated: December 2009

To encourage policy-makers to examine their own progress on child and youth issues and to foster discussion among Canadians, the Canadian Paediatric Society produces a biennial status report on public policy affecting children and youth.This report examines how effectively Canada’s provinces, territories and the federal government are using their legislative powers to promote the health and safety of children and youth.

The was released December 8 and adds a new indicator to its list of health measures: child and youth poverty. The addition of poverty to the report underscores how child and youth health is affected by social determinants such as income and housing. Public policy that supports and enhances the health of Canada’s youngest citizens must include measures to eliminate child poverty.

The report alone will not effect change. We need organizations and individuals to join with us to call governments to account. Here are some ways you can help:

10 Ways to Advocate for Child and Youth Health

1. Send Are We Doing Enough to the public health units, family physicians and other health professionals in your community. Ask your colleagues to do the same.

2. Write an op-ed piece or a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. We’ve drafted a sample to get you started. If you feel it is appropriate, discuss the issue with children and youth, and ask them to write letters to the appropriate provincial or federal Minister. Handwritten letters from children require special attention by ministers’ staffs and therefore have a greater impact.

3. Tell your MP, MPP and local Medical Officer of Health about the status report. Click here for links to provincial/territorial and federal government contact information.

4. Support an anti-poverty organization – Make Poverty History is currently running a campaign to end child poverty. Provincial efforts are also underway. Visit for more information.

5. Screen a film about how the social determinants of health affect child and youth health and well-being at your local school or community centre. In Poor No More, comedian Mary Walsh takes several struggling Canadians on a journey to see how other countries help people like themselves. Check out the trailer on You Tube

6. Organize an event. Work with a children’s or social advocacy group to raise awareness about child and youth health in your community through a creative event. Have children paint pictures of what health looks like to them, or ask older children and youth to perform skits about what makes children healthy. Be sure to invite local politicians and the media to the presentation.

7. Pay a visit to your local MP or MPP/MLA. Bring a copy of Are We Doing Enough with you, and focus on the one issue you are most passionate about. If you can’t choose, you may want to focus on poverty, which has wide-ranging effects on health.

8. Suggest that people volunteer for a child/youth health organization, by posting a notice in your waiting room. Offer suggestions of local organizations you value or help them search out a local group through Volunteer Canada or another volunteer matching organization.

9. Focus on Aboriginal child and youth health Aboriginal children and youth suffer ill-health at far greater rates than most Canadian children and youth. Make contact with a local Aboriginal group and ask how you can help raise awareness of their situation and encourage your legislators to take action.

10. Look for opportunities throughout the year to honour children and youth, and advocate for their health and wellness.

For more information, consult our list of Advocacy Tools and Resources.

Previous Editions of Are We Doing Enough?

2007 edition
2005 edition

For a printed copy of the report, contact Jill Greenwell, Senior Coordinator Executive and Government Affairs at 613-526-9397 ext. 240 or by e-mail at info[at]

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