Children’s Health Canada paints poor picture of child care in report

Children’s Health Canada paints poor picture of child care in report
Children’s Health Canada paints poor picture of child care in report

The pan-Canadian children’s health advocacy organization, Children’s Health Canada, is sounding the alarm about the care of children and adolescents in the country. He calls on the federal government to act and give more funding to the provinces to help them.

Children’s Health Canada brings together pediatric health experts from across the country. On the board of directors, we find people from the CHU de Québec-Université Laval, the CHU Sainte-Justine and the Shriners Hospital for Children of Canada, located in Montreal.

In a report released Monday, the organization paints a poor picture of the care provided to children. It indicates that Canada was ranked in 2010 among the top 10 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development for its child health outcomes. However, Canada’s position has fallen to thirtieth place out of 38 countries, according to UNICEF’s 2020 Innocenti Report 16.

“Health care organizations serving children and youth are facing unprecedented demands for services,” the report said. Additionally, staff shortages make it difficult to meet the demand of a growing population of children and adolescents who have complex medical needs.

The organization is urging the federal government to make the health and well-being of children a national priority, including by creating a position of chief children’s health officer.

It also recommends that Ottawa set aside protected budgetary envelopes for provinces and territories to strengthen their pediatric health systems across the entire continuum of care, including in research.

“The voices of all those who work directly or indirectly with children, starting with families and young people themselves, say that there is a major concern in Canada. And there is no question that this will disappear in disputes over federal-provincial jurisdictions. […] We are not addressing one more than the other, but it is clear that in a subject like this, the idea of ​​not collaborating is absolutely without common sense,” declared Monday during a briefing Anne Monique Nuyt, head of the pediatrics department at CHU Sainte-Justine.

She argued that federal health transfers have not materialized for many provinces in pediatric care. Only Ontario and Nova Scotia used federal health transfers to invest in pediatrics, indicates Children’s Health Canada.

“And in the face of the current crisis, for us, who care for children, we are simply incredulous that things are not moving forward and that at the end of the day, it is the children who are not receiving what they should be receiving” , denounces Mme Nuyt.

She reiterates that the Government of Canada must launch a national children’s strategy with clear targets to achieve. “This will require dedicated funds and a public report that measures the progress that is being made,” she specifies.

We must also facilitate the collection of reliable data, identify and intervene early and without delay to meet the health needs of children, “particularly for the mental health and development of children”, indicates M.me Nuyt.

Health is under provincial jurisdiction, recognizes the head of the pediatric department at CHU Sainte-Justine. “But the federal government is a big funder of health care. It has an important role to play in catalyzing and supporting the transformation of the system,” she says.

Insufficient resources

Julia Hanigsberg, CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, said a colleague who runs a hospital in southern Ontario told her there are more care beds intensive care units in this adult-serving hospital than there are pediatric beds in the entire province of Ontario. “This really crystallized for me that something is wrong. The size of child care is not proportional to needs. This is a crisis,” she says.

“In my region in Toronto, my hospital is operating at more than 100% of its capacity and this is not specific to Ontario, it is a situation experienced throughout the country,” continues Mme Hanigsberg.

She also points out that indigenous children are more affected by the crisis. She explains that children who live in remote areas or on reserves disproportionately suffer from investment gaps in children’s health care.

According to the CEO, this requires an innovative approach and collaboration between First Nations, the federal government and the provinces. “Indigenous children are often the victims of disagreements between governments over who should pay the bill. This should never be the case in a rich country like Canada,” she argues.

Emily Gruenwoldt, president and CEO of Children’s Health Canada, said in a press release that “children’s health outcomes in Canada are getting worse every year.”

“We have a moral and financial obligation to act to reverse this trend, for our children and for our collective future. It’s now or never,” she said.

Children’s Health Canada hopes that the federal government will lead the national strategy it is calling for and that it will involve the provinces in this process.

The Canadian Press’s health content receives funding through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. The Canadian Press is solely responsible for editorial choices.

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