Bill 210, Early Childhood Learning and Child Care Act
Posted on March 14, 2012 by Richard Einarson
Today in the Legislature, I introduced Bill 210, the Early Childhood Learning and Child Care Act. This is an important piece of legislation to me and to the Alberta Party. It focuses on creating a more solid foundation for children in Alberta to succeed and also ensures that families have the supports they need, with fair financial choices available to them. In essence, this bill helps Alberta’s families of today and develops the leaders of tomorrow.
The bill seeks to create a Early Childhood system that recognizes the importance of a child’s early years (from 0-6 years) on their lifelong health and working success. To do this, it will establish a cross-ministry cabinet committee and an Early Learning Secretariat that are tasked with engaging stakeholders to create an early childhood learning and child care framework. The framework will ensure Alberta families have access to the skills, supports and resources that they need to raise healthy and happy children who are capable of lifelong learning. A number of performance measures are included in the bill to ensure the framework’s effectiveness moving forward. They focus on availability of services, retention of childhood professionals, and quality and participation of early learning programs.
Bill 210 will also oblige the cabinet committee and secretariat to conduct a review of the province’s existing child care subsidies and tax policy to ensure there is no economic incentive in choosing one form of care over another. The Alberta Party is hearing that Albertan’s want options, but financial incentives shouldn’t make option one more appealing than another – that should be the family’s decision.
I believe this bill is a starting point for a provincial plan that focuses on early childhood learning. The other provincial parties have neglected to focus on the importance of early childhood learning in their pre-election platforms, and the Alberta Party believes that it needs a place in election conversations. Research is increasingly showing that the early years of a child’s life are of the utmost importance for development. Unfortunately, this government’s current childhood programs and services are dealt with across numerous ministries in a piecemeal fashion, with no real coordination or focus. It is important to provide the appropriate supports and fair financial choices for parents, so that children in Alberta have every opportunity to succeed.
With an election expected to be called within the next few weeks, Bill 210 won’t get a chance to be debated or passed in the legislature, but this is what we believe needs to be done for the success of our children, and this will be part of the Alberta Party campaign. It’s my hope this bill will act as a starting point for generating a conversation amongst Albertans. Alberta families deserve more options and better services, and Alberta children deserve every opportunity to succeed to their fullest.