Election 2014 - Municipal

CATCH is promoting First Calls short list of questions to our Central Okanagan candidates for this years Municipal Election and will post their responses here

Here are the questions in a one page format.

Thank you for your time, Community Action Toward Children's Health appreciates your willingness to help inform those interested in Early Childhood Development.  

Answers to the questions below will be posted on the CATCH website, Facebook and Twitter:

http://www.catchcoalition.ca/

www.facebook.com/okcatch

http://www.twitter.com/okcatch


A Strong Commitment to Early Childhood Development

Q: If elected ,what will you do to increase the number of child care spaces in our community?

Q: If elected, will you endorse (or advocate for) the $10 a day childcare plan?

Knowing that:

  • Early childhood is a crucial, time-limited period of human development, and data from BC's Early Development Index is showing increasing risks of less than optimal development among young children. Without supportive public policy and needed services, young families are stressed by the demands of caring and earning. All families should be able to access the ECD supports and services that they need.

  • The Childcare Crisis: BC has licensed child care spaces for only about 20 per cent of children.   In BC the average annual cost of child care for a toddler in BC - $10,884 (2012) - is double the average cost of university tuition fees - $5,015.  Due to the high cost and lack of child care spaces, many mothers cannot return to work when they are ready to.
The role of municipal government:
  • Only one in every three children In B.C. has access to a regulated child care space and the few available spaces are expensive. Cities are responsible for many local regulations, such as development zoning, and can require that child care spaces be included in new buildings School Boards can ensure stability for the many child care and drop-in programs for parents and children that operate on school sites Municipal governments can endorse the $10 a day childcare plan calling on the provincial government to begin building a better child care system.

Children's Increasing Vulnerability:

Q; If elected, what will you do to reduce rising vulnerability among young children in your community?


Knowing that:
  • 52,600 young children, or more than one third of BC's poor children, are under the age of six. Young children had a poverty rate of 20.7%, 2.1 % higher than the overall child poverty rate of 18.6% in 2011. 
  • 33% of BC children enter Kindergarten vulnerable in at least one area of development - social, emotional, cognitive, communications or physical. 
  • BC spends just 0.2% of GDP on early care and learning vs. the 0.7% average spending by other developed countries. 
  • Children who do not benefit from proper supports in their early years are at risk of life-long health issues (physical and mental), poor academic achievement, difficulty with employment, criminality and other hazards.
  • "Children who participate in high-quality pre kindergarten programs fare better in school, have better home lives, and are less likely to engage in criminal activity than their peers who do not attend such programs. - Economic Policy Institute

The role of municipal government:
  • Cities are often able to offer grants to support local services like neighborhood houses, child care spaces, recreational programming and community events that focus on supporting young children and their families.


Increased Economic Equality

Q; If elected, will you endorse and/or advocate for a poverty reduction plan for BC?


Q; Many poor children come from working families.  The municipal government has a responsibility to avoid contributing to the problem of low wage poverty.  If elected will you commit to adopting a municipal bylaw requiring the municipality to pay a living wage to both its employees and contract staff?

Knowing that:

  • Research has long demonstrated that poverty is toxic to children's health and development.  From poor nutrition to family stress to exclusion form social participation, there are many ways poverty is known to raise the risk of life-long ill effects on health and reduce opportunities for individuals to realize their full potential,  Growing income inequality in BC is recognized as a threat to the health of both individuals and our society 

  • BC has the worst child poverty rate in Canada at 18.6%.
  • BC also has the most unequal distribution of income between rich and poor families with children of any province.
  • BC's income assistance rates have not increased since 2007, despite the rising cost of living, and as a result families receiving welfare are living below the poverty line.
  • 31.8% of poor families in BC - 44,500 children - live in families with at least one adult working full time, full-year.
  • A parent with dependents working full time, full year would have to earn much more than the minimum wage of $10.25/hour to be above the poverty line.

The role of municipal government:

  • Cities can demand that the province and federal governments address poverty and inequality issues through tax and social policy investments.
  • Public schools can reduce or eliminate fees that act as barriers to inclusion for low-income students.
  • Cities can stop low-income housing from being demolished, and they can require that new developments have a mix of market and social housing.
  • Municipal governments can join the call for a poverty reduction plan for BC calling on the provincial government to commit to a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.
  • Cities can pay their employees a living wage and can agree to only contract for services with companies that pay a living wage.


The Health Effects of Poverty

Q: School and community centre fees remain a significant barrier to low-income families. If elected how will you ensure that children and families have equal access to school and community programs?


Knowing that:

  • There are serious negative impacts from living in poverty, even for one or two years, on children's health and development. These impacts include longer-term effects such as increased risks of chronic disease, school failure, and criminal involvement. Health inequities are associated with higher costs for our health and social service systems, and social costs to our communities. 
  • If disadvantaged British Columbians were as healthy as those with higher education and incomes, we could avoid an estimated $1.2 billion in health care costs. 

The role of municipal government:
  • Municipalities can increase food security through zoning that would ensure low- income neighbourhoods have access to reasonably priced, quality fruits and vegetables. Municipalities can support community gardens, community kitchens and schools can provide healthy meals and nutritional information to students. 
  • "The ... major source of revenue for municipalities - charges and user fees - can have a serious impact upon access to locally supported programs, such as cultural events and recreational facilities and programs. User fees inadvertently have become an insidious form of exclusion." - Caledon Institute 
  • Municipalities can provide free or discounted recreational services and access to programs for low income children, youth and families. 

Resources:

What is First Call?

This BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition is a non-partisan, province-wide coalition of over 95 provincial and regional organizations who come together to mobilize British Columbians in support of strong public policies and the allocation of resources for the benefit of children and youth.  First Call has built a broad provincial consensus around the need to ensure all British Columbian children and youth benefit from the 4 Keys to Success for Children and Youth:

1. A strong commitment to early childhood development
2. Support in transitions from childhood to youth and adulthood
3. Increased economic equality
4. Safe and caring communities

Community Action Toward Children's Health State of the Child report


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