Thank you for running in this important Alberta election.
Among the many issues facing our province, the Edmonton Council of Early Years Coalitions isparticularly concerned with public policies to enhance the healthy development of young children frompre-natal to school entry. Early childhood development is crucial to creating healthy children and adults,who become contributing members of our economy. We hope that your campaign will include acommitment to helping all children achieve their full potential.
Such a commitment must include addressing issues related to poverty and early learning and care withina broad children and family policy framework.
The effects of poverty, including inadequate housing, poor nutrition and limited access to mental healthservices can damage any child’s life chances. Yet, one in eight Edmontonians, including 40,000 children,live in poverty.
The early learning and care landscape has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Now, 60%of mothers with children 0-2 and 72% of mothers with children 3-5 participate in the workplace.Providing high-quality and accessible early learning and care is increasingly viewed as a societalresponsibility related to the rights of children. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has recognizedthe importance of early learning and care by targeting early childhood education programs as one wayof supporting reconciliation. The Conference Board of Canada’s 2017 report “Ready for Life” recognizesits importance to both individual health and national economic productivity.
Successive Alberta governments have introduced initiatives related to children and families, the mostrecent being the $25 per day child care. This program is welcomed and innovative, but currentlyprovides only a small number of spaces relative to need. Few previous initiatives have survived in partbecause Alberta has not had an integrated approach to the planning and management of services forchildren and families that span numerous departments such as Children’s Services, Health andEducation. We urge all candidates and parties to commit to building an integrated approach to earlylearning and care that will increase the availability and affordability of high-quality spaces and that isgrounded in legislation, built on a strong knowledge base and maintained and improved over time. Thiswould give all Alberta children and families an equitable start.
To assist voters in making informed decisions, we are asking you, and all Edmonton candidates in thiselection:
How will you support early learning and child development in Edmonton and Alberta?
For more information about early childhood, please go to the EEYC website athttps://www.earlychildhoodedm.ca/.
We will post your answer, and all candidates’ answers, on the website.Please respond, by email, at your earliest convenience.
Best wishes,Gloria Chalmers on behalf of Edmonton Early Years Coalitions (EEYC)