M. Elmore: The third and final Early Years Study report was released this week as well. All the provinces were ranked on early childhood education and child care policies, and British Columbia scored 4.5 out of 15. Only Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador scored worse.
Paul Kershaw from UBC’s human early learning partnership has argued that B.C. must do more to help families, with child care, parental leave and a better work-life balance. But the Liberals continue to ignore the very real need of families. To the Premier: what is she doing to make sure that parents in B.C. have access to improved child care?
Hon. G. Abbott: I am truly gratified to receive a question, even though it is rather late in the session.
I am very proud to be a part of a government that has invested over half a billion dollars in all-day kindergarten in order to meet the needs of young British Columbians. I am really proud to be a part of a government that has invested tens of millions in StrongStart opportunities across this province for young British Columbians.
I am further proud to be part of a government that has invested in neighbourhoods of learning, that will be investing in neighbourhoods of learning, to ensure that child care becomes a part of the educational environment as well.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
M. Elmore: Well, the reality today is that B.C. scored 4.5 out of 15 — a shameful and embarrassing third from the bottom across Canada. It’s not families first when families can’t access child care. When B.C. moved to full-day kindergarten, the Liberals did it without considering the effect on daycares that provide after-school care, and they did it without considering the younger kids, the infants to four-year-olds that feed into the school system. Today we see that 20 percent of those same kids are living in poverty.
British Columbians need leadership from their government. When is the Premier going to put action to her “families first” slogan by committing to a poverty reduction plan?
Hon. G. Abbott: Well, I’m really surprised that this member would raise the kinds of aspersions that she has about early childhood education in British Columbia. It is really quite astonishing to hear these kinds of suggestions after, so very successfully, we have seen the introduction of full-day kindergarten in British Columbia. We’ve seen the introduction of StrongStart centres that are making a difference on a daily basis to thousands and thousands of vulnerable young British Columbians and their families.
I’m very proud of the record of this government. British Columbia has a good education system, and on this side of the House we are dedicated to making it a great education system for British Columbia.