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Commentary: Young people deserve meaningful support

Child and Youth Well-Being Review has identified some of the costs of the pandemic on youngsters

With the COVID-19 pandemic set to enter is third year in March, the cost of the international health crisis continues to be countered in terms of lives lost, patients hospitalized, businesses damaged and general societal disruptions, including right here in rural Alberta.  

The impact on young people in particular continues to be examined by educators, health professionals, government ministries and other stakeholders.

In Alberta, the newly released Child and Youth Well-Being Review has identified some of the costs of the pandemic on youngsters, but also the need to take action to mitigate those impacts going forward.

Gathering information from many stakeholders, including mental health experts and parents, the review looked at the social, psychological, educational and physical impacts of the pandemic on children and youth and highlighted potential solutions.

The panel heard that children and youth remain resilient, and while not all young people have been impacted negatively, vulnerable children and youth were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and related health measures, officials said.

“The pandemic and related health measures have affected everyone, especially our youngest citizens,” said Rebecca Schulz, minister of Children’s Services. 

“We often heard that government can’t address this alone, so I also look forward to working with community partners and civil society on this work.”

Minister of Education Adrianna LaGrange said: “We know the pandemic has created many challenges in students’ lives, and that is why mental health programs and services are a top priority.

“I look forward to the steps we will take, together with education partners, to support Alberta’s children and youth.”

The recommendations coming out of the Child and Youth Well-Being Review have been submitted to the province, and the government says it will be creating an action plan that will support children and youth through the pandemic and beyond.

Residents here and across the province will be watching closely in 2022 to ensure the government keeps its promise to provide real and meaningful support for Alberta young people impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.