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From high infant mortality rates to startling statistics on abuse, a new report highlights troubling concerns about the well-being of Canadian children.

The findings, released by Children First Canada in collaboration with the O’Brien Institute for Public Health and researchers from the University of Calgary, paint a worrisome picture of the state of children in Canada.

The report examines the state of Canadian children’s mortality rates, physical and mental health, and social determinants that affect health, such as poverty, food insecurity, and abuse. The report is based on data from numerous organizations, including Statistics Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and Health Canada. The report looks at the well-being of Canadian children using statistics from several organizations. Two new studies have found that Canadian children are in the middle of the pack when it comes to fitness and that most three- and four-year-olds are meeting activity guidelines but are still spending too much time staring at screens. (dotshock / Trish Mongeon, the managing director of Children First Canada, says not much has changed since the non-profit organization released a different report with similar findings two years ago.

“The statistics are still very alarming about the state of children in Canada,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Tuesday. “Canadians tend to think that this is the best place in the world for kids to grow up, but the statistics are showing us something else.”

Infant mortality

The report found that Canada has one of the highest rates of infant mortality among countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Canada ranked 30th out of 36 member countries with a rate of 4.7 deaths of infants under the age of one for every 1,000 live births. By comparison, Iceland has the lowest infant mortality rate at 0.7 while India has the highest at 37.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Within Canada, British Columbia has the lowest infant mortality rate at 3.4 and the highest was in Nunavut at 17.7 – more than double the rate of any other province. However, the highest rates over the past decade have been, on average, in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Despite overall population growth in Canada, the report warns the proportion of children to adults is declining and will continue to do so until 2036. The data suggest that the number of Canadians aged 65 and older, who already make up the bulk of the population, will continue to increase in the years to come.

Mental health

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadian children and youth between the ages of one and 17, according to 2012 data highlighted in the report. In 2015, Canada was listed as one of five countries with the highest teenage suicide rates.

It’s noted that suicide rates among First Nations youth are five to seven times higher than for non-Aboriginal youth, according to the federal government.

Based on information from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), it’s estimated that 10 to 20 per cent of Canadian children may develop a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.

Health Canada suggests that only 20 per cent of an estimated 1.2 million children and youth affected by mental illness receive the appropriate treatment they need.

What’s more, the report points to an increasing number of hospitalizations related to mental health issues among Canadian children and youth. In the past 10 years, there has been a 66 per cent increase in emergency department visits for mental health concerns, CIHI reports.

Physical health The leading cause of death among Canadian children between the ages of one and 17 is accidental injuries, according to […]

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