New Poll Reveals a Major Disconnect Between Public Perception and Reality for Canada’s Children And Strong Support for Investing in Kids

Seven in Ten (71%) Canadians Believe Canada Ranks in the Top 10 on Children's Well-Being Compared to Other Countries; In reality Canada Ranks 25th Once Informed of Canada’s Rank, Nine in Ten (91%) Believe Improving Children’s Well-Being Should be a High Priority

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  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs
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Toronto, Ontario, November 20, 2019 — In the lead up to National Child Day, a new poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Children First Canada and its partners (Children’s Healthcare Canada and IWK Health Centre) reveals that Canadians greatly overestimate how well the country is doing on Children’s well-being compared to other affluent countries. Seven in ten (71%) believe Canada ranks in the top 10 compared to other wealthy nations, with over a third (36%) believing it ranks in the top 5. Some groups are more erroneously optimistic than others – half (49%) of those under 35 believe Canada ranks in top 5, as do four in ten (40%) of parents with children under 18 years old. Regionally, Quebecers are the most likely to believe Canada ranks in the top 5 (45%), while BC residents are the least likely (21%) – residents of BC (17%) and Alberta (16%) are most likely to believe Canada ranks in the top 20 (middle of the pack). The survey suggests that only 3% of Canadians are aware of the harsh reality that Canada ranks of 25th out of 41 wealthy countries.

Once informed of Canada’s actual rank, nine in ten (91%) Canadians believe Canada should put a high priority on improving its rating for children's well-being, with 4 in 10 (43%) believing it should be a very high priority. Canadians place a significantly higher priority on improving children’s well-being compared to when this question was asked in 2016 – the proportion saying it is either a very high or high priority is up 8 points (83% 2016 to 91% 2019), and the proportion saying it is a very high priority is up 19 points (24% 2018 to 43% 2019). Parents of children under 18 are most likely to believe it is a very high priority (53% vs. 39% non-parents) – still nine in ten of those without children believe it is at least a high priority (39% very high/51% high priority).

In terms of the top priorities for young people today, mental health/depression/anxiety comes out firmly on top – mentioned by half (48%) of Canadians. Nearly six in ten women (57% vs. 40% men) cite mental health/depression/anxiety as a priority. Bullying/safety online (34%), health/fitness/obesity/nutrition (32%), schools/education (31%) and poverty/poor families (31%) round out the top 5 of what Canadians see as the biggest priorities for young people. Drugs/alcohol was mentioned by over a quarter (27%) of Canadians, largely driven by those 55 years old and over (35% vs. 22% under 55). About a quarter also cite cost of post-secondary education (23%) and domestic violence/child abuse (23%) as priorities.

While a Majority Feel Canada is a Great Place to be a Kid, Canadians Recognize There is A Lot of Room for Improvement

Nine in ten (93%) Canadians agree that Canada is a great place to be a kid, however only one in four (25%) totally agree, with two-thirds (67%) indicating they mostly agree. Only half (54%) believe that young Canadians get the support they need to achieve their full potential, with only 7% stating they totally agree. Half of women (54% vs. 38% men) disagree with this sentiment, with one in ten (12% vs. 7% men) saying they totally disagree. Fifteen percent of those under 35 also totally disagree young Canadians get the support they need to achieve their full potential (vs. 8% 35-54, 7% 55+), as do the same proportion of those with a high school education or less (15% vs. 7% post-secondary, 3% university grad). Regionally, those in Ontario are most likely to agree (59%), while residents of BC (58%) and the Prairies (56%) are most likely to disagree.

There is a strong belief that investing in children saves additional spending down the line, with nine in ten (92%) agreeing with this sentiment, including over four in ten (43%) who totally agree. Those with a higher education are most likely to totally agree (52% university grad vs. 39% high school, 41% post-secondary), as are men (47% vs. 39% women).

More broadly, six in ten Canadians disagree that all people in Canada are treated equally (59% disagree – 19% totally/41% mostly disagree) and that Canada is doing its best for poor people (59% disagree – 16% totally/43% mostly disagree). Two-thirds of women disagree that all people in Canada are treated equally (67% vs. 52% men). Canadians with an income below $60,000 are most likely to not feel Canada is doing its best for poor people (65% <$60K vs. 51% $60K - <$100K, 54% $100K+). Regionally, those in Quebec are most likely to believe that Canada is doing its best for poor people, significantly higher than all other regions (56% QC vs. 32% BC, 35% AB, 28% SK/MB, 40% ON, 31% Atlantic).

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between November 5th and 7th, 2019, on behalf of Children First Canada and two of its partners: Children’s Healthcare Canada and the IWK Health Centre. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ were interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this Factum, please contact:

Jennifer McLeod Macey

Vice President, Ipsos Public Affairs

+1 416 324-2108

Jennifer.Macey@ipsos.com

About Ipsos

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The author(s)

  • Jennifer McLeod Macey Vice President, Canada, Public Affairs

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