Cuts to early childhood programs will hurt children and families

Program flagged Alberta’s failing grade on early childhood education

Edmonton – Premier Prentice’s decision to cut the Early Childhood Mapping Project will hurt children and families.

Using international standards for establishing Alberta’s early education baseline, the ECMap program found that a third of Alberta’s five-year-olds experience developmental difficulties. These findings helped forge an emerging national consensus of early childhood learning, education and care.

“The ECMap Project did world-class work on a measly budget,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said, noting that the program cost just $5-million. “Instead of acting on the recommendations of this project, the Government of Alberta has instead chosen to shut it down.”

The project was created as part of the Department of Human Services’ Social Policy Framework. It found that investing in public, non-profit learning and care environments for children under the age of five is essential to ending child poverty. Such programs prepare children for the demands of Grade One, and improve health and social outcomes throughout the children’s lives.

“The decision to axe this program flies in the face of Tory promises to end child poverty in Alberta,” McGowan said. “The Government’s actions show that early childhood education and care aren’t a priority for them.”

The Alberta Federation of Labour is advocating for concrete action to be taken by government on child poverty and on early childhood programs. At the Federation’s convention in 2013, hundreds of delegates unanimously passed motions calling for public child care. Rank-and-file members, elected union representatives and staff have actively lobbied MLAs for more funding of public child care.

“Some MLAs in the PC caucus do seem to understand the need for public investment in early learning and high-quality child care,” McGowan said. “Just last week, Edmonton Southwest MLA Matt Jeneroux had a motion passed in the Legislature that urged the Government to review child care policies to ensure that accessible, high-quality, and affordable child care is available for all Albertans. Unfortunately, the government has not taken concrete action.”

 “This is an issue that matters deeply to our membership. Alberta’s union movement is now 54 per cent women. While this is an issue that affects all workers and their families, it’s an important area of social policy for women workers in particular. The AFL is committed to making sure the government hears the will of our membership loud and clear,” McGowan said.

For more information on the Early Childhood Mapping Project, see:

http://lethbridgeherald.com/commentary/opinions/2014/12/03/funding-cut-a-blow-to-albertas-children/

For the full text of MLA Matt Jeneroux’s motion, see:

http://www.assembly.ab.ca/ISYS/LADDAR_files/docs/houserecords/vp/legislature_28/session_3/20141208_1200_01_vp.pdf

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail
orokne@afl.org


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