Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Premiers: Our kids are in crisis – It's time to work together and prioritize children

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”
~Nelson Mandela

CALGARY, AB, Nov. 23, 2022 /CNW/ – Moms, Grandmoms, and Caregivers for Kids is sending an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and our nation’s Premiers, which reads as follows:

Dear Prime Minister and Premiers,

As mothers, grandmothers, and leaders across this country, we are calling on you to take action for the sake of kids in Canada. This past Sunday marked National Child Day – a day to honour Canada’s commitment to uphold the rights of every child – yet it didn’t feel like we had much to celebrate.  Canada recently dropped in stature, earning the dismal rank of 48th on a global child rights index,1 and we are currently in an unprecedented crisis in which kids’ lives are on the line.

This crisis isn’t new.  Children’s hospitals and advocates have been raising the alarm that an urgent response is needed at the national and provincial levels to bring leadership and action for kids in Canada. It should never have gotten this far. Our kids deserve better.

While the time for action has long since passed, it’s never too late when it comes to the survival of our children.  The stories of parents and grandparents are flooding social media as they desperately try to ease the pain of the child they love and keep them alive. The “tripledemic” of influenza, RSV and COVID-19 is causing incalculable suffering.

Despite the good news children’s Tylenol and Advil are coming, kids can’t breathe. When you have helplessly watched an infant struggle to take a single breath, sat with us in an emergency room for 15 hours, or been sent hundreds of kilometers away from home because there are no cribs left at the children’s hospital, you would understand just how close we are to the breaking point.  Children’s life-altering surgeries are being cancelled, and they’re being put on waitlists which further compound their distress. 

Haven’t our kids suffered enough? The pandemic has wreaked havoc on their lives. Children have experienced enormous setbacks to their education and mental health and made heroic sacrifices to protect their elders and community. But when the time came for adults to step up and make sacrifices to protect our children, our society has failed them.

This crisis isn’t just hurting kids, it’s destroying our families, our economy, and our future. With sick kids languishing at home, kids are missing out on yet more education.  They’re also losing social time with their peers, access to breakfast programs, physical activity, and the care of an adult who’s watching for signs of abuse or neglect.

Single mothers and parents without paid sick days are once again forced to make impossible choices between keeping sick kids at home or keeping a roof over their head and food on the table.

There is a palpable sense of hopelessness amongst parents and those that serve kids on the frontlines. Doctors say the crisis will get worse before it gets better, yet we see no tangible signs of action.

Now is the time for real leadership.  Just days ago, 20,000 children rallied from coast to coast to coast for National Child Day, standing up for their rights and calling on you to work with them to find solutions.

Indeed, the solutions exist, and they are within your reach.

It’s time to get back to the table and hammer out a funding agreement to address the healthcare crisis that puts kids at the centre.  There must be funding earmarked for children’s healthcare and a commitment to capture data on the health of our children.  Many jurisdictions with similar health care systems, including Australia, UK, Germany and Israel, recognize they must pay up to 15 percent more for pediatric hospital services to account for pediatric subspecialty care.

It’s time to listen to paediatric experts who’ve called for an all-out effort to vaccinate children from influenza and COVID-19 and are stressing the importance of everyone using the strategies that we know work, like requiring masks in crowded indoor spaces, staying home when sick, and hand hygiene, to curb the current viral surge and help keep kids in school.

And it is well past time for Canada to appoint an ombudsperson or commissioner for children so that we have strong independent leadership and accountability to lead us through this crisis and get us back to being a world-leading country for kids to grow up in.  A collaborative national strategy could strengthen the coordination of the complex inter-connected systems which serve children.

There is nothing that matters more to mothers and grandmothers than the health of our children.  An overwhelming majority (95%)2 of Canadians support government to make children a priority by devoting funds and leadership to make life better for kids. It’s time for you to do what Canadians are asking for and put our children first.  The future of Canada depends on it.  A child’s life depends on it today.

Yours sincerely,

Kathleen Taylor, O.M., Chair of the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)

Hon. Lisa Raitt, P.C., Co-Chair Coalition for a Better Future

Penny Collenette, O. Ont.  Lawyer, activist, former Senior Director, Prime Minister’s Office 

Sara Austin, founder and CEO, Children First Canada 

Pamela Jeffrey, Board Chair and Founder of the Prosperity Project

Kathleen Wynne, former Premier of Ontario

Sharon Sholzberg-Gray, C.M. Lawyer, Health Policy Advocate, former Health Association CEO

Maureen O’Neil, O. C. former President, Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement

Pam Hrick, Executive Director and General Counsel, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)

Diane Kazarian, Chair, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation

Mary Jo Haddad, RN CM, MJH & Associates

Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Former Cabinet Minister, Alberta

Dr. Meredith Irwin, Paediatrician-in-Chief, Department of Paediatrics, SickKids

Dr Lindy Samson, Chief of Staff and Chief Medical Officer at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), staff physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at CHEO 

Dr. Susanne Benseler, Director, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute

Dr. Beth Foster, Professor of Pediatrics, Chair, Dept. of Pediatrics of McGill University, Pediatrician-in-Chief, Montreal Children’s Hospital of the MUHC

Dr. Kim Lavoie, Canada Research Chair and Co-Director of Montreal Behavioural Research Centre

Dr. Sara Citron, Pediatrician, Whitehorse General Hospital 

Dr. Natasha Johnson, Associate Chair, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Medical Co-Director, Eating Disorder Program, McMaster Children’s Hospital

Rachel Solomon, Chief Data Officer, the Hospital for Sick Children

Jennifer Gillivan, President and CEO IWK Foundation, Chair of Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundation

Dr. Shazma Mithani, MD, FRCPC, Emergency Physician, Stollery Children’s Hospital

Linda Silas, President of Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions

Nancy Delagrave, physicist, scientific coordinator of Covid-Stop

Jill Schnarr, Chief Social Innovation and Communications Officer at TELUS

Regional Chief Kluane Adamek, Aagé

Rachel Pulfer, Journalists and Human rights advocate 

Amber MacArthur, President, AmberMac Media Inc. 

Tara Slone, TV host, mother

Ann Douglas, award-winning writer and bestselling author 

Jodi L. H. Butts, lawyer and senior executive

Lisa Kirbie, Founder and CEO, Blackbird Strategies

Kate Graham, Professor of Political Science, Huron University College, Author

Supriya Dwivedi, Policy Lead, Centre for media, technology and democracy, McGill University

Kathleen Monk, Political Commentator and Executive

Sarah Elder-Chamanara, Owner of Madame Premier

Regina Bateson, PhD

1 https://www.kidsrights.org/research/kidsrights-index

2 Maru Public Opinion surveyed 1,793 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru/Blue Voice Canada online panelists November 4th-6th 2022, with results to be representative of the entire adult population with an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.

 

SOURCE Moms, Grandmoms, and Caregivers for Kids

Open Letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Premiers: Our kids are in crisis - It's time to work together and prioritize children WeeklyReviewer

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