N.B. child and youth advocate to turn up heat on policy-makers
Bernard Richard to deliver his first 'state of our children' address
Anonymous - CBC News
November 24, 2008
New Brunswick's outspoken child and youth advocate will use his inaugural "state of our children" address on Monday to lay the groundwork for measuring how future government actions affect the province's youngest citizens.
Bernard Richard's speech in Moncton will also present a 20-page report full of statistics measuring children's health, education, poverty, adoption levels and lifestyle.
The child and youth advocate is using his report card to stress to the provincial government that it "needs to pay more attention to indicators of child and youth achievement and their condition in order to achieve the ultimate and over-arching goal of self-sufficiency."
"What we want to establish is a way of measuring every year how well we're doing. I'm not satisfied when government says, 'Well, we've invested so many thousands of dollars, we've introduced a new program,' if we're not making real progress," Richard told reporters on Monday.
"That's what we're establishing here, and that's what we're going to do every year."
The report will become the template for future ones, allowing statistics to be compared across several years to determine whether the lives of children and youth are improving, Richard said. The provincial child and youth advocate said he hopes policy-makers and other people will use the statistics to bring about changes that will help children not only in New Brunswick but also globally.
"By comparing and contrasting our issues and the concerns and challenges we face in keeping our promises to children with the reality of children the world over, we will have a stark reminder of the economic disparities from which our society and our children have benefited," the report said.
By the numbers
Child and youth advocate Bernard Richard's report card paints the following demographic picture of New Brunswick:
* Children under age 14 constitute 16 per cent of the New Brunswick population
* Youth (aged 15-24) make up 13 per cent of the province's residents
* Adults aged 25-44 account for 27 per cent
* Baby boomers (45-64) make up 29 per cent
* Seniors (65 and up) number 15 per cent
One area where youth have seen their situation improve in recent years is in the labour market. Despite a drop in youth population in 2007, the Richard report shows that overall, roughly 1,000 more young people were working throughout the province.
That pushed the youth employment rate up 1.4 percentage points to a record level of 58.3 per cent. At the same time, with about 1,300 fewer young New Brunswickers looking for work, the youth unemployment rate dropped 1.9 points to 11.8 per cent in 2007, the lowest level ever recorded, Richard's report indicates.