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Election 2017 - Provincial

April 27th        7-9 pm

1040 Hollywood Road, 

Hollywood Road Education Services

Hosted by CATCH, Success By 6 and The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW)

Facebook event

Candidates who are currently confirmed as attending:

  • Kelowna West - NDP, Shelley Cook
  • Kelowna West - Green, Rob Mellalieu
  • Kelowna West - Independant, Brian Thiesen
  • Kelowna - Mission - Conservatives, Chuck Hardy
  • Kelowna - Mission - NDP,  Harwinder Sandhu
  • Kelowna - Mission - Green, Rainer Wilkins
  • Kelowna - Lake Country -Green, Alison Shaw alternate Robert Stupke

As our organisations represent the Central Okanagan, we have extended this invitation to all Candidates from the following electoral districts:

  • Kelowna-Lake Country

  • Kelowna-Mission

  • Kelowna West

  • Penticton

Research has long demonstrated that poverty is toxic to children’s health and development.  From poor nutrition to family stress to exclusion from social participation, there are many ways poverty is known to raise the risk of lifelong 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.

On November 15th, 2016 over 100 Central Okanagan early years community stakeholders gathered to celebrate National Child Day.  Mark Holmgren from Tamarack presented and engaged the audience in a conversation around community responses toward reducing child and family poverty.

Individuals were asked to indicate what they felt were the three most urgent issues for families facing poverty. The top three issues indicated were:

Safe and Affordable Housing (66%),

  Livable Income and Employment (56%),

   Safe and Affordable Childcare (43%).

Many individuals and organizations have indicated their interest in remaining involved and continuing to support the work of developing a poverty reduction plan for children and families in the Central Okanagan.

For further information around the Central Okanagan Early Years Tables Child and Family Poverty Strategy - http://catchcoalition.ca/Conversation-on-Child-and-Family-Poverty.

Candidate Questions - BC Provincial Election 2017


Early childhood is a crucial, time-limited period of human development, and data from BC’s Early Development Index shows 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 young children and their families should be able to access the ECD supports and services that they need. We know what will help and are looking for political commitment.

27% of Central Okanagan and on average, 32% of BC children now enter kindergarten vulnerable in at least one area of development—social, emotional, cognitive, communications or physical, an increase of 2.3 percentage points in the past decade. http://www.edibc2016.ca/

BC under-invests in early childhood compared to international norms, spending just 0.29% of GDP on early care and learning versus the 0.7% average spending by other developed countries.

Children who do not access quality supports in their early years are at risk of lifelong health issues (physical and mental), poor learning outcomes, difficulty with employment, criminality and other vulnerabilities. There are enormous social and economic costs associated with this under-investment in BC’s young children.

BC’s youth need a strong safety net of universal and targeted programs and services to be there for them when times get tough. Dealing with a mental illness, learning disabilities, low literacy and chronic health issues impede youth’s ability to advocate for their own needs. Being new to Canada or coming to terms with a minority sexual or gender orientation are other examples of circumstances and transitions that require extra support. The majority also deals with at least one or more issues such as poverty, addiction, social isolation, lack of marketable skills and homelessness.

1. Child and family poverty

Q: What will your government do to reduce BC's child poverty rate to 7 per cent by 2020 as suggested by​ the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.​

BC is the only province that doesn’t have a poverty reduction plan.

One in five BC children and 16.4% of Central Okanagan live in poverty as do one in two of all children living in lone-parent families. BC also has the most unequal distribution of income between rich and poor families of any province. http://still1in5.ca/

There are also significantly higher poverty rates for children of recent immigrants, Indigenous children, children in racialized families and children affected by a disability. National Household Survey data shows that urban Indigenous families experience more than double the poverty rate of non-Indigenous urban families.

There are serious negative impacts from living in poverty, even for one or two years, on young children’s health and development.

BC’s Early Childhood Tax Benefit is small and inadequate in comparison to other provinces’ child benefits. Benefits in other provinces apply to children under 18, as opposed to under six. Alberta, Ontario and Quebec’s benefits are two to four times the monthly amount of BC’s $55 maximum.

2. Low-wage family poverty

Q: The ​​BC Federation of Labour through it's Fight for 15 Campaign​ says that minimum wage should be 15 dollars per hour. Will your party raise the minimum wage to reflect that?

Most poor children in BC live with parents in the paid workforce, some working full time, full year, yet they are still poor because their wages are too low.

In 2014, 50.6% of poor children in BC (82,540 children) lived in couple families, and poor couple families in BC that year had a median after-tax income of $18,340, or $11,961 below the poverty line in BC of $30,301.

The current minimum wage of $10.85/hour still leaves a single parent with one child who works full time - full year, which is thousands of dollars below the poverty line.

There are nearly half a million workers in BC earning less than $15 per hour. Eighty-one percent are 20 or older. Three in five are women.

Families need to be able to earn living wages to raise themselves and their children out of the stress of chronic financial crisis. A living wage is calculated annually based on what a family needs to earn in order to meet their basic living expenses. The Living Wage for a family of 4 in the Central Okanagan is $18.42 per hour for each working parent.

The provincial government has a responsibility to avoid contributing to the problem of low-wage poverty by paying their employees and contractors a living wage.

3. Child Care

Q: The Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC ​and ECE (Early Childhood Educators) BC ​have long called for a ten dollar a day child care plan. What will your party do for parents who are struggling to afford daycare?

The key area of early childhood care and education has suffered from public policy neglect for decades. Families are faced with a lack of access to quality care, unaffordable high fees and the risk of putting their children in unlicensed and unsafe care arrangements.

BC continues to have regulated child care spaces for fewer than one in five children under the age of 12. Families put their unborn children on wait lists for infant-toddler care and then watch their children age out of eligibility before they receive a space. School-age child care is also unaffordable and in short supply for many families.

The average monthly rate for full-time licensed group child care in Kelowna $1076.54 for a child between 19 months and 3 years of age - more than the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment.

Of the 64,900 workers who reported working part time due to child care responsibilities in 2015, more than 94% were women.

Lack of access to affordable child care is a barrier for women with children who try to leave abusive relationships.

First Call, along with hundreds of groups and individuals around BC, has endorsed the $10aDay Community Plan for a Public System of Integrated Early Care & Learning proposed by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of BC.  http://www.10aday.ca/

4. Support for early childhood development

Q:It's estimated five thousand preschoolers with special needs are on wait lists for urgent therapy and services. How will your party work to end those wait lists?

Funding for early childhood intervention programs hasn’t increased since 2006 and yet agencies are being asked to respond to a broader range of growing and increasingly complex child and family needs.

In BC, an estimated 5,000 preschoolers with special needs are on wait lists for urgently needed therapies and services that support early development. Many children “age out” before ever accessing early childhood intervention services.

Waiting for needed services causes unnecessary stress for families and permanent impairments to affected children, and service providers are stretched past their limits.

5. Affordable and Accessible Housing

Q. We know stable housing is key to a person's health and well being. What will your party do to help families​ find affordable housing?

The Canadian Pediatric Society notes that living in housing need can “negatively impact all aspects of child and youth physical, mental, developmental and social health.”

  • Waterson, S., B. Grueger and L. Samson, 2015. Paediatrics and Child Health, Canadian Paediatric Society, 20(7):403-07

Housing is a core component of social infrastructure, plays an essential role in supporting economic and social well-being, serves as a stabilizing resource, and is one of the most basic requirements for health. Once people find stable housing, they can focus on other important areas of their lives, such as education and employment, and can build strong futures for their children. It frees up their resources for other essentials, reduces stress, and lowers government costs on social services.

Housing stress is significant with only half of people in the Central Okanagan having the income needed to afford the average household price of $516 000 (spending no more than 30% of their income). 50% of renters spend more than 30% of their income on rent.

As affordable rentals become scarcer and wait lists for social housing grow longer, some families with children are at greater risk of homelessness or living in substandard shelter. The vacancy rate of 3 bedroom family homes in Kelowna is currently 0%. This is having an impact on the quality of life for Kelowna families and for those moving to our community.” Rental vacancy rates in Kelowna are at 0.6 per cent for all housing types.

By 2021, 3,070 new rental units will be required to meet demand in the Central-Okanagan. Beyond that, an additional 4,482 new rental units will be required by 2036.

6. Support in transitions from childhood to youth to adulthood

Q. Children in care often experience multiple placements in families, group homes and even independent living settings due to reasons such as: lack of foster families, changes in the foster family life and emotional and physical issues of the child. How will your party help children in care find stable homes?

Q. Hundreds of children age out of foster care each year in this province without appropriate individual transition planning, leaving them suddenly without necessary support. How will your government help these young people's transition be successful?

Q. The majority of typical young adults are still supported by their families well into their twenties in North American society. How will your government continue to support young adults aging out of care in areas of housing, employment and life skill support?

Transitions are times of increased vulnerability when children and youth may need extra support to navigate them safely. Developmental transitions include moving into adolescence and into the expectations of adult life. Other stressful transitions include changes in family, such as when parents separate or divorce or are unable to keep their children safe.

Because youth transitioning out of foster care don’t have the family support other young people can rely on, they often need extra support in establishing a home of their own, finding employment and pursuing further education.

As of March 2015 there were more than 7,860 children and youth in care in BC, and approximately 1,000 youth “age out” each year.

Some youth are more likely to experience government care than others, including Indigenous youth (who comprise 60% of youth in foster care in BC), young people with a disability and those who identify as LGBTQ.

Multiple moves for children and youth in foster care remain a serious concern. When youth have a stable home, they have the opportunity to build connections with their school, community and peers. BC research shows youth with foster care experience reported better health if they had moved less than three times in the past year.

Numerous reports on the deaths of young people in and recently leaving care point to a systemic failure to provide them with the emotional supports, permanency, cultural connections and mental health services they desperately needed.

As of 2016, more BC youth who transition out of care at age 19 are eligible for financial assistance for post-secondary school. This is a good but limited program, and there are still gaps in support with limited eligibility and budgets for many youth who are on their own without support.

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