Alberta government can do more to keep kids safe, says Canadian Paediatric Society
All provinces and territories need to make better use of public policy to protect and promote the health and well-being of Canada’s children and youth, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society. And while Alberta is a leader in areas such as publicly-funded immunization programs, the province still has a long way to go when it comes to injury prevention.
The fourth edition of Are We Doing Enough? A status report on Canadian public policy and child and youth health examines how effectively governments use legislation and programming in areas such as injury prevention, disease prevention and health promotion. It also assesses the federal government in key areas.
“Currently, there is a piecemeal approach to keeping children and youth healthy and safe in Canada―and it’s putting kids at risk,” says Dr. Robert Moriartey, an Edmonton paediatrician who represents Alberta on the CPS Board of Directors. “Since our last report in 2009, advances have been made in certain areas, but Alberta still has a lot of improvements to make.”
Since 2009, Alberta’s ratings in injury prevention haven’t improved. The report shows that the Alberta government could do better in areas like bicycle helmet and booster seat legislation, and all-terrain vehicle and snowmobile safety.
Strong legislation in injury prevention can net huge gains. Provinces with bicycle helmet legislation have rates of related injuries that are lower by 25 per cent than in those without laws. For years, experts have been calling on the federal government to implement a national injury prevention strategy—a comprehensive plan with communications and outreach initiatives, legislation at all government levels, a national surveillance system and research into prevention and program evaluation. Legislative and regulatory actions can strengthen parents and families in their efforts to raise healthy and safe children. There are many examples of how legislation and public policy have improved conditions for children and youth, such as seat belt and helmet laws.
The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that promotes the health needs of children and youth. A full copy Are We Doing Enough? can be accessed online by visiting www.cps.ca.