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New Brunswick Child and Youth Advocate asks province to keep kids in mind amid COVID-19 pandemic

Click to play video 'N.B. advocate calls to keep children in mind amid COVID-19 recovery' N.B. advocate calls to keep children in mind amid COVID-19 recovery
WATCH: The pandemic has been hard on all aspects of New Brunswick life, but a child and youth advocate wants to ensure that as the province recovers, it keeps the needs of children in mind. Travis Fortnum has the story. – Nov 20, 2020

New Brunswick’s Child and Youth Advocate Norman Bossé delivered his seventh State of the Child report Friday, with a focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID times are not good times for children,” Bossé said.

Read more: New Brunswick moves Saint John area to orange phase as 9 new COVID-19 cases reported Friday

Titled Protecting Child Rights in Times of Pandemic, the report asks the provincial government to keep schools open as much as possible and as long as possible.

Bossé said the shutdown in the spring left students without more than just class time, also socialization and services they might not get otherwise.

Those services include things like counselling and meal plans.

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N.B. child and youth advocate releases ‘state of the child’ report – Nov 20, 2019

The report makes six recommendations to the province:

  • Considerations for child poverty in the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19
  • The formation of an acting youth parliament
  • Province-wide education reform
  • The creation of a provincial youth suicide prevention strategy
  • The latter, something Bossé says needs urgent attention.

“My own staff has been challenged more than once in recent months when a child for whom we were advocating was able to slip away by taking their own life,” he says.

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The 2020 edition of the State of the Child Report is also likely Bossé’s last in the role.

It would have been 2019 one, but the COVID-19 pandemic put off his leaving office.

The full report can be read here.

The province did not immediately respond to a request for comment.