Note from the MLA: New legislation will help children

Danielle Larivee
MLA for Lesser Slave Lake

Raising a kid isn’t easy.

Having done so three times, I know all about the thankless chauffeuring, the sleepless nights caring for a child with the flu, the freezer-Tetris game to make sure there’s enough food to make it through the week.

I also know that I couldn’t ever do it on my own. Whether it’s grandma and grandpa, day cares or after school programs, any parent knows that it truly takes a village.

As Minister of Children’s Services, I get to do something about it. This week in Edmonton, I’ll be honouring child development professionals with the newly-minted Minister’s Awards of Excellence in Child Development.

I’m proud to honour the women and men who help Alberta families get through the week. We’ve got nine winners this year, including three individuals and six centres. But we could easily celebrate hundreds of incredible Albertans. If you’ve got an inspiring story, think about nominating them for an award next year. And let me know who has helped you!

Throughout this province, and right here in Lesser Slave Lake, child development professionals do incredible work with little recognition. Many families across Alberta know a day care or a worker that has gone the extra mile. I love hearing these stories, because they inspire me and renew my belief that we need to invest in children.

The foundation for childhood success doesn’t begin in grade one. If we can offer a strong foundation to Albertans throughout the province, it will be a game-changer for both parents and their children.

By taking care of kids in their critical early years, day cares and workers help children take valuable steps forward in social skills, motor skills and relationship building skills. By doing so, they help guide children to their brightest futures.

It’s something I hear everywhere I go. And the difference these people make is life-changing.

Raising a kid isn’t easy. That’s why I’m also proud to champion child care in other ways. Earlier this year, we expanded $25-a-day child care, adding 100 new centres across the province.

Across Alberta, we now have 122 centres and 7,300 spaces where families can get quality child care without having to pay the equivalent of a second mortgage.

Parents tell me that having affordable child care has let them afford winter coats, to fix an abscessed tooth, to replace their vehicle that has broken down. Others talk about summer camp, about swimming lessons. About being able to go back to work.

A household that doesn’t have to worry about the equivalent of a second mortgage is a household that will have less stress and more capacity to be better parents.

These centres are also implementing quality improvements to ensure young children have what they need to support their development. That’s why I’ve been clear whenever parents ask me: every Albertan should be able to access $25-a-day child care.

Public education and public health care used to be controversial ideas. It took vision to make them a priority, but Canadians now see these things as a key part of who they are, an investment that continues to pay dividends.

So we will continue to evaluate and learn. And as things continue to look up in Alberta, we will look at expanding affordable child care. And we will continue to celebrate the incredible professionals who help our families get through the week.

Because raising a kid isn’t easy. It might not be glamorous work, but it is truly life changing.

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