Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

August 21, 2006 00:01 ET

CMA Report Card Warns Canada's Kids on Dangerous Track

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 21, 2006) -

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) today released its sixth annual National Report Card on Health Care in Canada, a document that contains some disturbing findings for our nation's children.

"This year we broadened our report card beyond systemic issues to examine how we can do better in a most critical area: child health," said Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, the CMA President. "What we found is parents seem to be looking at the health of their own children through rose-coloured glasses."

As a specialist in cardiac care for both children and adults, I have a very real fear we are killing our children with kindness by setting them up for a lifetime of inactivity and poor health."

As in years past, Canadians were asked to grade a number of aspects of the current health care system and rate their level of access to services as well as the performance of governments on health care. However, in the 2006 survey, Canadian parents were also asked to grade the overall health of Canadian children, their support for children's health policy initiatives and their access to various child-related health services.

Toward a child health agenda

Canadians feel that their own children are healthier than the overall child population. While only 6% of parents give the overall health of Canadian children an "A", at least 4 in 10 give their own children's level of physical activity and diet an "A". Similarly, only 9% reported that their child is overweight while Statistics Canada findings show 26% of children under age 18 are overweight or obese.

While parents may be in denial over the health status of their own children, they did express strong support for a children's health agenda. The majority of those asked supported proposed initiatives designed to improve the health, diet and physical activity of Canadian children.

However, there is also strong evidence that the mental health care of children with special needs is not being met. Fewer than one in ten (7%) of parents of children with special needs assigned an "A" letter grade to access to children's mental health services.



"These data show that we need to continue our many efforts in
supporting healthy active lifestyles and improving access to mental
health services for children," states Dr. Robert Issenman, President
of the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS).

The survey found varying support for initiatives such as:
- Mandatory physical activity for children in schools (92% support).
- Mandatory school curriculum on benefits of physical activity and
healthy diet (87%).

- Removing junk foods (high in sugar, fat and salt) from school
vending machines (81%).

- Tax breaks on purchase of healthy foods (63%).
- Tax deductions for parents to offset fees for sports or other
physical programs (80%).


This fall the CMA, CPS and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) will hold a Children's Health Summit on November 21, 2006 to raise awareness and spur action on a children's health agenda for Canada.

"There is obviously a desperate need for concerted action from governments, health care providers and others in this critical area," said Dr. Collins-Nakai. "The CMA is proud to partner with the CFPC and the CPS to help parents build healthier futures for Canada's children."

Access

In addition to important information on the health of Canada's children, the 6th Annual CMA Report Card also shows that public opinion about the health care system is up slightly over last year. In 2006, 67% of Canadians asked gave the system an "A" or a "B" for overall quality of the health care services available. Last year only 63% of those asked graded the system with either an "A" or "B".

As was the case in past years, Canadians who have a family physician held more positive views about their most recent experience with the health care system compared to those who did not (28% vs. 3% assigned an "A" for the quality of care they received from the system). This carried through for feelings about access to emergency room services (22% vs. 11%), overall quality of the system (18% vs. 7%) and access to specialist care (14% vs. 6%).

"Year after year Canadians tell us that having a family physician makes a difference in the overall outlook on the system," said Dr. Louise Nasmith, President of the CFPC. "The numbers in this survey demonstrate the importance of improving access to all services, including those to help parents meet the present and future needs of their children."

Governments

In the 2006 Report Card Canadians rated the actions of governments higher than in recent years, with 43% assigning either an "A" or "B" grade to the performance of their provincial government and 38% assigning either an "A" or "B" to the federal government. Last year those figures sat at 38% and 31% respectively. This translates into an increase in the percentage of Canadians' who are optimistic that health care services will get better in their communities - 56% said they thought services would get "much" or "somewhat" better. Last year, only 47% of those asked shared that view.

Methodology

The annual report card telephone survey by Ipsos-Reid consisted of three components: 1,007 Canadian adults (between June 20 and 25, 2006), and 593 parents of children less than 18 yrs, and 129 parents of special needs children (between June 20 and July 9, 2006).

The 129 parents of children with special needs were identified based on the following question: "Has your child or children ever been diagnosed with emotional, developmental or psychological special needs? We are referring to conditions like learning disabilities, autism, depression, anxiety disorders, Anorexia nervosa or ADHD among others?

The margins of error for each component are estimated to be: 1,007 adults (±3.2%), 593 parents of children less than 18 yrs (±4.0%) and 129 parents of special needs children (±8.63%), 19 times out of 20.


The Report Card can be accessed at: http://www.cma.ca/report-card.htm

Contact Information

  • CMA
    Carole Lavigne
    Manager, Media Relations
    1(800) 663-7336 ext. 1266 (on Friday, August 18)
    (902) 569-9353 (from August 20-23 at the Delta Prince Edward
    Hotel in Charlottetown (PEI)