Some facts about Canada
Canada became a self-governing nation in 1867 while still retaining ties to the British crown. At present, the total population of Canada is roughly 34,000 million and its capital city is Ottawa.
As the country has one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world, it has always been considered a melting pot of different cultures and customs.
After the English Canadians, French Canadians represent the second largest ethnic group in Canada, primarily inhabiting the province of Quebec. Separatist movements in francophone Canada remain an important domestic issue.
While Canada is the second largest country in the world by surface, it is very sparsely populated. Canada, along with Mexico and the United States of America, has signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Canada remains a rich country with great disparities
Multi-ethnic Canada is one of the most developed nations in the world. It is currently ranked 8 by the UN Human Development Index (HDI). Human Development in Canada is therefore higher than in most other OECD countries.
According to statistics, Canadians are also blessed with a very long life: the average Canadian has a life expectancy of roughly 81 years.
At five per 1,000 live births, the infant mortality rate in Canada is lower than in the neighbouring United States, a country that maintains a far less cost-efficient health care system.
HIV/AIDS has become a growing problem within the Aboriginal Canadian community. While the overall prevalence of HIV/AIDS is roughly 0.5 per cent, it is nearly three times higher for Canadians of aboriginal descent. Nearly 30 per cent of infected people in Canada do not even know they have HIV.
Considering that Canada is an OECD member country, it has a fairly high homicide rate. In fact, it is four times that of Japan and the United Kingdom, making Canada one of the worst OECD performers on this indicator.
In spite of the fact that Canada is a very developed country, income inequality has been on a steady rise throughout the last decade. The gap between the rich and the poor has been getting wider. Wealthy Canadians are particularly wealthy when compared to their counterparts in other developed countries.
Women in Canada do still not earn as much as Canadian men, despite having the same qualifications: thus, the gender income gap persists. Poverty figures have also increased for all age groups but in particular for children.
Situation of the children in Canada
In Canada, around 45,000 children are orphans. Orphans are deprived of their first line of protection – their parents. Parental neglect, abuse or the complete absence of parental care has a strong impact on a child’s life as an adult.
Thousands of Canadian children run away from home each year. Sexual, physical and psychological mistreatment is cited as the most relevant factor in homelessness for young people.
A significant number of children without parental support end up getting trapped in a vicious circle of drug abuse, gang life and violence. In Vancouver, roughly 75 per cent of the city’s street young people use crystal meth (“meth”), a dangerous psycho-stimulant drug.
HIV and Hepatitis C infections have reportedly been on the rise among Canada’s street children as the use of injection drugs increases. There are, however, no accurate official statistics with regards to the number of young Canadians who are homeless.
Children represent the population segment that has been most affected by the general increase in poverty levels. According to the OECD, roughly 15 per cent of children are living in poverty. In fact, out of nearly all OECD member countries, Canada has seen one of the highest increases in the child poverty rate over recent years.
Children who experience poverty, especially if it is persistent poverty, face a higher risk of suffering health problems, developmental delays, and behaviour disorders. They tend to perform worse in school and are more likely to live in poverty once they become adults. The Canadian government is planning a national, long-term anti-poverty strategy in order to tackle the country’s child poverty problem.
SOS Children's Villages in Canada
SOS Children's Villages started to become active in Canada in 1969 when "Friends of SOS Children's Villages" was officially founded. At the moment, our organisation is supporting Canadian children and young people via our SOS Children's Village programme in British Columbia, which includes an SOS Children's Village and an SOS Social Centre.
The organisation works closely with the Ministry of Children and Family Development and other social service agencies to create various opportunities, programmes and services for the children entrusted to it to become balanced, responsible, contributing members of society.
Other programmes are designed to enlighten potential co-workers, volunteers, supporters, donors, media and the general public about the SOS Children's Village mission and to support and strengthen the extended community of foster families.
Website of SOS Children's Villages Canada
(available in English and in French)
Website of SOS British Columbia