See text below.
As children begin school and students go to college, we are concerned that the best early learning years are being neglected through inadequate support of early childhood education. The preschool years are the time when investment in human development brings the greatest return, affecting adult health, learning and behaviour.
We support the BC Child Advocacy Forum in its campaign for high quality early education, supplemented by federal and provincial funds. The B.C. government has, however, despite federal money, cut support for educational child care, reduced subsidies to needy parents, and is increasingly relying on unregulated daycare for preschool children, using federal funds to replace rather than supplement provincial spending.
Thus in 2002-2003 B.C. received $50 million in federal funds for early childhood but cut $23 million from child care subsidies for low income families, and diverted $27.6 million from early child development programs to other 'priority' programs for research, community forums, and grants to charitable organizations.
The Forum recommends that a province receiving federal early child development funds should be required to adhere to federal criteria for accountability, should maintain or increase the baseline spending, and use federal funds to supplement rather than replace provincial spending.
We appreciate our local mayors' bringing the issue to the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities in September.
Canada lags behind other developed countries in provision of universally accessible, non-profit, publicly funded high quality infant and preschool programs.
Margaret Cox, Cobble Hill, MD UBC '55, former Associate Professor of
Pediatrics, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Mary Dolan, Duncan, Coordinator, Growing Together Child and Parent Society,
Member Cowichan Valley Early Childhood Coalition
- reprinted from the Cowichan Valley Citizen