Opinion letter: Is Quebec doing enough for young children?
There are nearly 540,000 children aged 0 to 5 in Quebec. What kind of living conditions are they growing up in? Are we giving the people who will eventually lead us into the future everything they deserve? True, most of our preschoolers are doing just fine and living in an environment conducive to their development. But there are still too many facing challenging situations.
An unprecedented groundswell of support for making early childhood a priority in Quebec is already building and gaining momentum, but is it enough, knowing that one out of four kindergarten-age children is vulnerable in at least one sphere of development?
Too many of our youngest citizens are falling through the cracks. The impact of the difficulties experienced in the critical early childhood years is real. The repercussions on their health, their well-being and their growth can follow them over time and influence the adults they eventually become.
But we can step in and do something about it. Together, we have the means to build a better future for the next generation. If we are looking for solutions for fostering a fairer society in Quebec, this is a great place to start.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, every dollar spent on expanding early childhood education will generate six dollars in economic benefits over the long term. So why we would not put our money in this highyield investment?
When children get a better start in life, they do better at school and they are physically and mentally fitter as adults. By taking action at an early age, we can ensure that the best conditions are in place so that all children can realize their full potential and leverage their talents to benefit Quebec. It is an undeniable fact that investing as a society in early childhood, beginning in pregnancy, will have positive repercussions at every level for many years to come.
With the third annual Early Childhood Week now in full swing across the province, there is no better time to join together to think about how to act moving forward so that all our children can start their lives with the same chances – the best chances.
We have decided to take action and make early childhood development a priority.
We have a wide range of tools at our disposal to help young children get a head start in life, including services
to support parents and expectant parents, high-quality educational daycare services available to all, efforts in
various circles to ease the transition between daycare and school, a commitment to a better balance between
work and family, affordable housing, high-quality living environments, and accessible social services and health
care. Armed with all this, we have the power to do something right now to make sure our children have what
they need to thrive.
Let’s make Quebec a shining example of leadership in early childhood issues. After all, is there anything more
meaningful or life-affirming than nurturing our children at every step of their journey so they can become wellrounded,
engaged members of society? If ever there were a goal worth pursuing, it is this.
Together, let’s walk hand in hand and dream big for our little ones.
Hand in Hand for the Little Ones Collective
Simon De Baene
Jean-Pierre Gagnier, Ph.D.
Catherine Haeck, Ph.D.
Dr Gilles Julien
Paul Lewis, Ph.D
Dr Alain Poirier
Julie Poissant, Ph.D.
Nibisha Sioui, Ph.D.
Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay, Ph.D.