Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Understanding the Early Years in Niagara

A breakfast forum was hosted by the Early Childhood Community Development Centre this morning in St. Catharines. Data was presented on the results of a survey of neighbourhoods in the Niagara Region. An instrument called the Early Development Instrument was developed to measure 'readiness to learn in school' and the results are based on an overall sample size of 3,014. Glory Ressler, Coordinator, Understanding the Early Years Niagara Region, and Tiffany Gartner, Data Analysis Coordinator, Ontario Early Years Niagara Region reviewed some fascinating results of the survey. The following conclusions were reviewed.
  • almost 1 in 4 Niagara children are not ready for learning
  • poor scores impact future success and, eventually, community health and prosperity
  • larger percentages of children living in poverty are vulnerable
  • the largest number of children at risk live in middle/upper income families
  • small changes for a large proportion of the population will have the most impact
  • neighbourhood makes a difference - not always in a predictable manner
  • access to resources also seems important
  • low scores, differences and surprises can inspire further study and action.
As with all good studies we have completed in Niagara, what counts now is what we do with the information. It's time for our individual communities to learn more about the local information and then decide how to work together to ensure that every child has the opportunity to develop his/her full potential. As Thomas D'Aquino, President of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives said "If Canada is to succeed in forging a creative economy, we cannot afford to waste the talents of a single Canadian."

In the photo from left to right: Heather Carter, Aaron Bell, Ojibway Storyteller, Glory Ressler, Coordinator, Understanding the Early Years Niagara Region and Dr. Robin Williams, Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Health.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hon. Carolyn Bennett Celebrates 10 Years

The Hon. Carolyn Bennett celebrated her 10th Anniversary of being the Member of Parliament for St. Paul's riding in Toronto. Paying special tribute to Carolyn at was former MP of the riding Barry Campbell, Bob Rae, Candidate for Toronto Centre, Irwin Cotler, MP for Mount Royal, Ken Dryden, MP for York Centre and Sue Barnes, MP for London West. Carolyn is my mentor and I am so lucky! Everyone spoke about her enthusiasm, adherence to principled leadership, and promotion of building the party from the grassroots and democracy between elections.

NWG Women's Group Off to a Great Start

The first inaugural meeting of the NWG Women's Group took place today at The Gables in Grimsby. About forty women from all walks of life came together to discuss the possibility of becoming a Club registered with the Liberal Party's Women Commission. In the photo from left to right: Katherine Medcalf, Rhonda Michalovicz, Linda Henry, Britt Traynor, Heather Carter, Alison Grewal, Helen Wilson, VP Women's Commission, Elizabeth Elliott, and Selvum Pillay, VP Laurier Liberal Ladies. Lynne Steele, former Riding President of York-Simcoe is in the front row.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Walt Addresses Laurier Liberal Ladies

Walt Lastewka, MP from 1993 to 2006 and Federal Candidate for St. Catharines addressed the Laurier Liberal Ladies today. Walt delivered a fabulous speech to the group of about seventy at the Howard Johnson Hotel at noon. In the photo from left to right: Joyce Morocco, Niagara Falls, Walt Lastewka, Heather Carter and Lina Seniuk, President, Laurier Liberal Ladies.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Taking the Lead on Poverty Reduction

Today, I attended a great event at the Learning Enrichment Foundation Centre in Toronto. Our leader Stephane Dion took a courageous step in announcing an ambitious poverty strategy. What gives weight to the announcement is the targets set. Under liberal leadership during the next five years, there will be a reduction in the number of Canadians living in poverty by thirty percent and the number of children by fifty percent. Currently, 3.4 million Canadians live in poverty of which 788,000 are children.

The plan calls for the use of a broad range of public policy instruments to ensure the targets are met including changes to the Working Income Tax Benefit, the Canada Child Tax Benefit, and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.

This poverty reduction plan affirms the liberal progressive strategy for Canada and gives Canadians a clear alternative to the uninspired and regressive policies of Harper and the conservatives.

I will never forget the debate I was in during the last election at Saltfleet High School in Stoney Creek. Someone asked what I was going to do about poverty, given Hamilton's high poverty rate. I remember being shocked when the woman told the audience and candidates about the number of children, particularly, that were living in poverty in Hamilton. I decided that I better learn as much as I could about poverty and that this was an issue of national importance.

Today Dion called on the staff and board members of the LEF and all Canadians to hold his feet to the fire, indicating that unless one aims high, accomplishments are few. This was a welcome announcement - a big and bold plan at a time when Canadians are hungry for a grander vision. I am so proud.