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New report details struggles children have faced during COVID-19 pandemic

Last Updated Sep 1, 2020 at 6:07 pm EST

Local residents wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus, watch celebrations ahead of the National Sovereignty and Children's Day, in Istanbul, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Turkey will mark Thursday, April 23, 2020 the 100th anniversary of the foundation of its parliament, as the nation is in a 4-day curfew declared by Turkey's government in an attempt to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/ Emrah Gurel)

A new report is shining a spotlight on how Canadian children have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The findings of “Raising Canada 2020” reveal that many of the top threats to childhood – including mental illness, food insecurity, and physical inactivity – may be increasing, or are in danger of increasing because of the pandemic.

Sara Austin, the CEO and founder of “Children First Canada”, says the report, published with the University of Calgary and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute, found a decline in immunization rates.

“As much as 20 percent across the country, so that’s why we raised the alarm bell,” Austin says.

“Not only around the spread of COVID-19 but also the spread of things like mumps and measles that are entirely preventable and where we need to ensure that when kids go back to school and daycare that their vaccines schedule are fully up to date.”

The findings also uncovered more in-depth information on physical activity. It found that only 4.8 per cent of children, aged 5 to 11, and 0.8 per cent of youth aged 12 to 17 are meeting 24-hour movement guidelines.

Meantime, close to 60 per cent of participants aged 15 to 17 report that their mental health is “somewhat worse” or “much worse” than it was prior to physical distancing measures. In addition, 15 per cent of Canadians indicated living in a household where they experienced food insecurity in the past 30 days.

Austin says early indicators from this report suggest that children’s health is in jeopardy, and how the government chooses to respond will change the trajectory of children’s lives.

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