My dear fellow British Columbians:
I love this province. It’s physically magnificent, culturally rich, and prosperous in so many ways. But, there’s a big problem here, and I want to talk about it.
It’s about children and families; they’re not doing so well. And I’m hoping this will change.
You see, families’ lives are different now. Today, many of us don’t have extended family members living close by, and many of our neighbours and friends work full time. Most of us need to work full time, too, in order to support our children. Our mortgage and rent payments are higher now, not to mention the costs of food, clothing, and other basic necessities. Did you know that the cost of raising a child has increased by 40 per cent over the past decade? Unfortunately, our incomes haven’t climbed anywhere near that much, making it even more difficult to make ends meet, never mind save for our children’s education and/or retirement.
For most of us, child care is an essential family support. It enables us to pursue our education and/or work so that we can raise our children and contribute to community life (not to mention the economy). It also provides valuable support for our children, particularly in the area of their social-emotional development, which happens to be the most significant determinant of lifelong learning. But there really aren’t enough quality child care spaces, and the ones that are available are beyond the financial means for most families.
There’s a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” In the past, that village likely included the help of relatives, friends and/or neighbours. Today, our village includes early childhood educators and caregivers who provide quality child care. For this village to be strong, and for women (in particular) to continue to be active citizens and contributors to community life, it needs the public’s support. And this means a government that is committed to supporting accessible, affordable, high quality child care.
Nov. 20 marks National Child Day, an occasion to honour children’s rights as citizens of our democratic country. In British Columbia, far too many of our children are living in poverty, within circumstances that their families are simply unable to change.
Dear British Columbians, we can’t let this continue! Please, please, please, when you go to vote this May in our upcoming provincial election, vote for a candidate who understands the needs of children and families, and who is willing to really put families first. Someone who is willing to make child care a priority. Our whole province will benefit when our children are thriving once again. They, above all, are our most precious resource.
Ocean Kneeland is the parent of three amazing children. She also works full time in Duncan, British Columbia.