The following information was obtained from the Toronto Star and Yahoo News (http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/101203/national/unicef_report):

UNICEF‘s research shows that Canada ranks below average as 17th among 24 richest, industrialized countries for children’s material well-being. That is, Canadian children suffer greater income inequality than most developed nations.

“The UNICEF report, which for the first time ranks 24 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of equality in children’s health, education and material well-being, shows children in many rich nations are being left behind.”

“Canada ranks average overall, but scores a dismal 17th place in the area of children’s material well-being, which includes family income and housing.  Since all data were collected before the 2008 recession, child inequality has likely grown across the OECD,  the UNICEF report warns.”

The UNICEF reports that “it’s a concern that the inequality gap in family income is very wide in Canada, far below the OECD average.”

Furthermore, “falling behind is a critical issue, not just for individual children, but for the economic and social futures of their countries as well,” says the UNICEF report.

Marv Bernstein, chief adviser on advocacy for UNICEF Canada, gives the following advice which includes some practical and affordable steps:

  • Canada should address income inequality by promoting fairly paid and highly skilled employment and through sufficient and fairly distributed benefits and taxation.”
  • establishing a national Children’s Commissioner to ensure a baseline of support for children across the country;
  • annual reports on the state of the country’s children;
  • a children’s budget to provide a clear account of public expenditures on children; a national child poverty reduction strategy;
  • assessing all policy decisions for their affect on children;
  • and closing the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal children.

The UNICEF report warns that “children pay the heaviest cost of inequality. But taxpayers also pay through increased strain on health and hospital services, on remedial schooling, on welfare and the justice system.”

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