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Canada a 'below average' place to raise your kids: UNICEF

If you thought Canada was one of the best places to raise a child, think again.

The latest report on the well-being of children in rich countries ranks Canada 17th out of 29, a score that hasn’t budged in almost a decade, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In fact, the country scored “below average” grades for child poverty and obesity and children’s life satisfaction.

The Netherlands ranked first overall, followed by Norway and Iceland. Romania was last.

“The fact that our children rank in the bottom half when compared to other industrialized nations simply isn’t good enough,” UNICEF Canada president David Morley said. “It is clear Canada can do better. Protecting and promoting the well-being of our children must become a national priority.”

UNICEF Canada is calling for a national children’s commissioner to report each year on the state of the country’s kids and for government to provide more information on the amount of money spent on children.

The UNICEF report is an update of a 2007 study of child well-being in countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. That year, Canada ranked 12th out of 21 developed countries.

Canada scored above average in housing and environment (11th) and education (14th). But it ranked a “troubling” 27th in health and safety, 16th in behaviours and risk and 15th in material well-being.

Canada’s relatively high rates of infant mortality for a developed country and relatively low immunization rates are to blame for our low score for health and safety, the report says.

Other areas of concern for Canadians in the UNICEF report include high rates of obesity (27th out of 29), high rates of bullying (21st), low rates of children aged 15 to 19 participating in higher education (24th) and high rates of cannabis use (29th).

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