New Election Poll Reveals Majority of Voters Feel It's Important That Children's Issues Be Addressed in the Federal Election Campaign

UNICEF Canada Urges Party Leaders and Candidates to Make Children a Priority

TORONTO, April 21 /CNW/ - A majority of voters, 73 per cent, feel it's important that children's issues such as promoting the well-being of children be addressed in the federal election campaign, according to a new poll conducted by Innovative Research Group for UNICEF Canada. Yet, they feel that the federal parties are not including children's issues during this election campaign. Only 29 per cent of Canadians believe they've heard any of the political parties address children's issues.

UNICEF Canada, which commissioned the poll, is urging all party leaders and political candidates to make the well-being of children a priority issue during this election campaign -- and as Members of Parliament when making policy decisions post-election. Children make up nearly one quarter of Canada's population, but their voices are rarely heard in national politics, especially during an election.

A newly created UNICEF Canada Charter for Children outlining key priorities that will advance the well-being and close the gaps for the most vulnerable of Canada's children was sent to all party leaders and every federal election candidate, asking for their formal support and if they will champion the well-being and rights of children.

Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada, Jack Layton, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Elizabeth May, the Liberal Party of Canada, led by Michael Ignatieff, and the Bloc Québécois Party, led by Gilles Duceppe, have officially responded that they will champion the well-being of children. Hundreds of candidates have also responded. The Conservative Party of Canada led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not yet responded to the questionnaire sent out by UNICEF Canada nearly a month ago.

UNICEF Canada is also asking Canadians to urge their local candidates to make children a central election issue. The Charter for Children and responses from the federal parties and local candidates can be found at www.unicef.ca/vote2011.

"It is vital that children's best interests come first at all times and in all environments, and that no child is excluded or forgotten," says David Morley, President and CEO, UNICEF Canada. Canadians care about the well being of children in our country. It is time for the federal parties to focus more attention on our children's needs during this election," he adds.

There are six priorities outlined in UNICEF Canada's Charter for Children including the appointment of a National Children's Commissioner or Advocate.  Many countries such as Scotland, England and Sweden have an independent national children's advocate who is responsible for ensuring decisions are made in the best interests of children.

The poll also revealed:

  • A majority of voters in BC, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada support the creation of a national children's advocate; nationally, almost half (45 per cent) agree it's a good idea.
  • Older Canadians - particularly those 55 years or older - are more likely to care about children's issues than younger Canadians.
  • Francophones place more importance on children's issues than Anglophones in this election campaign.

Throughout the federal election, UNICEF Canada and its supporters across the country will continue to reach out to candidates and Canadians, asking them to become champions for Canada's children and keep our promises to them. Visit www.unicef.ca/vote2011 regularly for responses by party leaders and candidates as they are received as well as views from Canadians.

This study  is  the  result  of  an  Innovative  Research  Group poll  conducted  for   UNICEF  Canada between  April  14th to  April  18th,  2011 with an  estimated  margin  of  error  of   1.8   percentage  points,  19  times  out  of  20.

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world's leading child-focused humanitarian and development agency. Through innovative programs and advocacy work, we save children's lives and secure their rights in virtually every country. Our global reach, unparalleled influence on policymakers, and diverse partnerships make us an instrumental force in shaping a world in which no child dies of a preventable cause. UNICEF is entirely supported by voluntary donations and helps all children, regardless of race, religion or politics. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

SOURCE UNICEF Canada

For further information:

For more information, please contact:  Kathleen Powderley, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Canada, 416-803-5597, kpowderley@unicef.ca

For French media: Nancy Radford, UNICEF Canada, Manager, Communications Quebec, Tel:  514 288 5134 x8425; Cell 514 232 4510
nradford@unicef.ca


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