MLA sides with vulnerable infants and children

Editor’s Note:

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald has weighed into the debate over whether to retain — or axe — the Infant Development Program and the Supported Child Development Program that provides assistance to social agencies that work with the families of vulnerable children. This is the text of a letter he has sent to Mary Polak, minister for children and family development:

November 19, 2009

Hon. Mary Polak
Minister of Children and Family Development

RE: Cuts to Infant Development and Supported Child Development Programs

Dear Minister Polak:

Over the Remembrance Day week, I visited the communities in my constituency and I met with a number of members of the early childhood development community and specifically with Infant Development and Supported Child Development consultants.  In every case, the cuts to infant development and supported child development were raised as a major source of concern.

You have repeatedly claimed that these cuts will not impact services to children, yet from my constituency alone you have received numerous letters from service providers that have stated exactly the opposite.

Norm Tennant, Chair of the Revelstoke Community Connections Society said clearly that the cuts will result in ‘fragmented services’, ‘lack of leadership’, and ‘lack of support for the consultant who provides services to vulnerable children and families in our community.’

Jane McNab, retired Infant Development Consultant said that she was ‘shocked and horrified to hear that the contracts for provincial offices have been terminated because she knows personally the effectiveness of these offices’.  She continues to say ‘the provincial offices and the advisors are NOT administrators.  They are direct service providers.’

Rhonda Smith, Infant Development Consultant in Golden said that she ‘cannot say enough about how the provincial IDP office has shaped the Infant Development Program of BC into a first class, internationally recognized program of excellence.’

Tom Coe, Speech and Language Pathologist in Golden said ‘these cuts seem to be short term gain for long term pain.’

On November 5th, in response to a question posed by the member from Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant you claimed that you have been talking to front-line workers, but it is clear that you have not been listening.

I ask you to reconsider this reckless cut and choose to fully support this program which is a vital part of providing all children with their best start in life.

Yours sincerely,

Norm Macdonald MLA
Columbia River-Revelstoke