British Columbia got the highest marks on the first-ever report card comparing child injury rates and prevention policies across nine Canadian provinces. The province’s success may be thanks in part to the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU) at BC Children’s Hospital, an innovative province-wide partnership dedicated to reducing the burden of injuries through research and public education.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the “Canadian Child Safety Report Card” follows the injury prevention report card model used by international organizations such as the World Health Organization and UNICEF. To create the report card, researchers compared nine Canadian provinces in three categories: rates of injury-related hospitalization, rates of injury-related death, and evidence-based injury prevention policies.

BC ranked number one out of the provinces evaluated. It had the largest per cent decrease in hospitalization rate for unintentional injuries at 22 per cent and the second lowest rates of both hospitalization and death due to unintentional injury. BC also scored well on the evaluation of evidence-based injury prevention policies and legislation, receiving a mark of “excellent” for distracted driving laws, bicycle helmet legislation and booster seat legislation. 

“This report card compiles information about child injury from multiple sources into one easy-to-understand ranking,” says Dr. Liraz Fridman, one of the lead authors of the study and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Calgary and Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. “Our aim is to raise awareness about child injuries and show areas where evidence-based prevention policies have succeeded and areas where there’s more work to be done.”

Dr. Fridman co-led the creation of the report card with Dr. Alison Macpherson, Associate Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science at York University and an Adjunct Professor at in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia (UBC). 

BC’s high rank on the report card shows the efforts of BCIRPU at BC Children’s are making an impact. BCIRPU, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, is dedicated to reducing the burden of injuries through research, surveillance and the development and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies. BCIRPU researchers have helped create a website with information for preventing injuries in popular sports and recreational activities, developed the Concussion Awareness Training Tool, conducted research supporting the efficacy of bike helmet laws, and much more. The report card also shows that across Canada evidence-based initiatives to prevent injuries make a real difference. 

“People often think injuries just happen, but this report card confirms that many injuries can be prevented with reasonable precautions,” says Dr. Ian Pike.

“When children are injured, they may have to deal with the effects for an entire lifetime. We’ve made great progress in preventing child injuries but there’s still much more we can do to keep kids safe.”

Dr. Pike is a co-author on the publication, Director of the BCIRPU at BC Children’s Hospital, Professor in the UBC Department of Pediatrics, and Co-Executive Director of The Community Against Preventable Injuries.

BCIRPU researchers continue to work on injury prevention strategies and research studies every day at BC Children’s.

“I’m very pleased with all the successes BCIRPU has had so far and I look forward to seeing what it does over the next 20 years,” says Dr. Pike. 

BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit is supported by a province-wide partnership between the Evidence to Innovation Research Theme at the BC Children’s Hospital, BC Ministry of Health, Provincial Health Services Authority and University of British Columbia.