Government of Canada invests $3.1 million to study impacts of COVID-19 on children in Canada

News release

27,000 children from across Canada will participate in the McMaster University and McMaster Children’s Hospital research project

October 6, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Since the start of the pandemic, the Government of Canada put in place crucial science-based measures to protect the health and safety of all, including children. Despite the important protection that these protocols have offered, we know that COVID-19 and measures such as physical distancing and mask wearing have transformed children’s day-to-day lives.

Today, the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health,  announced that a team of researchers led by Professor Kathy Georgiades from the Offord Centre for Child Studies will receive $3.1 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to study the impact of COVID-19 pandemic measures on children and youth in Canada with the goal of helping young people recover from the pandemic. The Offord Centre is a multi-disciplinary research institute of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences’ McMaster Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Georgiades will collaborate with principal investigators at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, and the Children’s Health Policy Centre at Simon Fraser University. The researchers will partner with Statistics Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Children’s Healthcare Canada to collect data on children’s physical, mental, and social well-being, as well as their COVID-19 vaccination status. The research evidence uncovered by this study will contribute to strategies to support children and youth affected by the mental and physical health challenges stemming from the pandemic.

Close to 27,000 children between the ages of five and 21 will participate in the national study, which gets underway in January and wraps up in June 2023. Statistics Canada previously monitored this same group, then aged up to 17 years, for the 2019 Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth. The results collected in 2019 give the research team solid pre-pandemic baseline data, which will allow them to assess the effects of the pandemic on the group’s well-being.

As we continue to invest in research that will support all those affected by COVID-19, it is also important to stay up to date on vaccination. Getting infants and children vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, including a booster, if recommended, can provide an added layer of protection against COVID-19 and its complications. Vaccination remains one of the most effective ways to protect all age groups against serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

Quotes

“It’s clear that COVID-19 is having a negative impact on the physical and mental well-being of many children and youth which is why investing in research like this is so important. Information from this study will be used to develop strategies that will help them recover and minimize any long-term effects to improve their well-being. We also know that ensuring children and young people are up to date with their vaccination can help protect them against severe outcomes and post-COVID conditions.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“The McMaster University study on the mental, physical and social impact of COVID-19 on children in Canada is yet another example of the benefits of collaboration among researchers, government agencies and national associations to produce an effective and coordinated response to the pandemic. By working together, we are making progress in several key research areas.”

The Honourable Filomena Tassi
Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and Member of Parliament for Hamilton West–Ancaster–Dundas

“CIHR is pleased to be able to support this vital research. The data collected will be compared to pre-pandemic measures and will be useful for informing policy and decisions about allocating resources for children’s health, and for developing wellness, prevention, and treatment strategies to help ensure a healthy future for children and youth whose lives have been disrupted by the pandemic.”

Dr. Christine Chambers
Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health

“Canadian children and their families are facing major economic and social stressors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These will be most severe for families already struggling with financial hardship, and children already dealing with physical and mental health conditions. Results from this study will help public officials make better decisions about health and intervention.”

Dr. Kathy Georgiades
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, and Member, Offord Centre for Child Studies, McMaster University

“Children’s Healthcare Canada is pleased to support Dr. Georgiades et al in this timely research focused on the health-related impacts of COVID-19.  Children, youth and their families have suffered deeply as a result of the pandemic. As a national Association serving children’s healthcare delivery organizations, we look forward to partnering in this research to improve the delivery of physical and mental health services, and ultimately improve the health and well-being of Canada’s eight million children and youth.”

Emily Gruenwoldt
President and CEO, Children’s Healthcare Canada

Quick facts

  • Research has been a key part of the Government of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with researchers working tirelessly to find ways to detect, manage, and reduce the transmission of the disease.

  • Between March 2020 and June 1, 2022, CIHR has invested approximately $414 million in 965 COVID-19 research projects. These projects span everything from diagnostics and potential treatments to public health responses and communication strategies.

Associated links

Contacts

Marie-France Proulx
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
613-957-0200

Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca

At the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) we know that research has the power to change lives. As Canada's health research investment agency, we collaborate with partners and researchers to support the discoveries and innovations that improve our health and strengthen our health care system.

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