Statement by Minister Fantino: World Population Day 2013

July 11, 2013 - Ottawa

As the world's population continues to grow well past the seven-billion mark, we are presented with both a challenge and an opportunity: nearly half of the world's seven billion people are under the age of 25, and more than 90 percent of them live in developing countries.

Youth in developing countries are an incredible resource and hold tremendous potential to make great contributions to their communities, societies, and economies. Yet, this potential can evaporate when expectations of education and jobs go unmet. In both developed and developing countries, investing in youth during their formative years can yield tremendous, sustainable results. This is the reason why the Government of Canada is focusing its efforts on improving access to education and basic health care for young people.

After all, health provides a foundation for learning. Improved health allows children to attend school regularly and maximizes their classroom time. Improving the health of mothers, newborns, and children, and reducing the number of preventable deaths, are priorities for Canada. We are leading a global effort with the Muskoka Initiative to mobilize others to help reduce maternal and infant deaths, and improve the health of mothers and children in some of the world's poorest countries. The goal of the Muskoka Initiative is to prevent the deaths of as many as 64,000 mothers and 1.3 million children under the age of five. So far, our existing programming has achieved tangible results. In Bangladesh, more than 230,000 children have been vaccinated against serious childhood diseases. In South Sudan, more than 3,000 women delivered their babies safely. And in Ethiopia, we have provided vitamin A supplements to 1.5 million children under the age of five.

In addition to education and health, young people and children also require protection and security. Often, the scourge of child labour and forced early marriages make children subject to violence, exploitation, and abuse. Canada is committed to protecting the rights of children and youth to help them build better futures.

On this World Population Day—and every day—we will remain resolute about bridging the gaps in global health, education, and security for the world's most vulnerable, particularly youth. Canada remains dedicated to making a real difference by helping those most in need around the world build prosperous futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Julian Fantino
Minister of International Development