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Newsroom
10/4/2013
Statement by Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario President and CEO Alex Munter concerning UNICEF Report Card on Child Well-Being in Rich Countries
April 10, 2013—Ottawa—CHEO President and CEO Alex Munter issued the following statement concerning UNICEF’s report Card on Child Well-Being in Rich Countries:

“The concerns reflected in the UNICEF Report Card: Child Well-Being in Rich Countries are certainly troubling. The findings reflect a similar trend we have been seeing here at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).

Changing Canada’s outcomes will require a rethinking of how we invest in young people and how we approach mental health as a central contributor to their well-being. It will require the engagement of public policy makers at all levels to take real action in an effort to improve outcomes.

The areas where Canada lags behind are contributing to the increased complexity of our children’s health problems and outcomes. Obesity, poverty, substance abuse, and poor life satisfaction are all linked to one another and, from our hospital’s perspective, making health care delivery more complex.

Childhood obesity is dangerously high and increasing demands on our health care system. These young people face bullying, have higher risk of long-term chronic illness, and experience social and emotional problems. The current generation of youth may be the first to have a lower quality of life than their parents. If nothing is done, health care and social costs will increase rapidly.

In March, 2013, as co-chair of the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel, we released a three pronged approach to curbing childhood obesity: start all kinds on a path to health, change the food environment, and create healthy communities. The report contains specific and actionable recommendations for policy makers to achieve a 20% reduction in obesity by 2018.

Additionally, the UNICEF report identifies high levels of cannabis use as an area of concern. There is a strong link between drug use and mental illness that must be addressed in our society and through public policy.

While Canada has come a long way in terms of changing its views on mental health, there is still much more that needs to be done to overcome stigma. We need to talk about mental health more than we do today. We need to invest in evidence-based mental health programs that improve the lives of youth and children. We must establish mental health as a pillar of child and youth health care delivery. Doing so will help Canada make important gains to the benefit of our next generation and generations to come.”

Alex Munter is President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. Additionally, he is co-chair of the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel, recommending a path forward to address childhood obesity.

For media inquiries or to request an interview:

Ann Fuller
Director of Public relations
613-737-7600 x 2658 
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