Cuts to early childhood project will hurt children and families

Project flagged Alberta’s failing grade on early childhood education

Edmonton – The government’s decision not to continue the Early Childhood Mapping Project will hurt children and families.

Using international standards for establishing Alberta’s early education baseline, the Early Childhood Mapping Project (ECMap) found that 29 per cent of Alberta’s young children 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 of $5-million a year.  The project’s major report was up on the ECMap website for two days, before the government asked that it be taken down,” Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. “Instead of being proud of the good work of this project, and instead of making their report widely available, the Government of Alberta has instead chosen to shut it down.”

The program 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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