Central Okanagan 

Early Years Partnership

Jerome Chung - West Kelowna Councillor

I have reviewed your article and questionnaires attached and I will 100% support all the recommendations as presented by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.

I believe you are working with the Central Okanagan Early Years Partnership NPO. I am particularly concern about young children being raised in a poor family where all the social problems derives from. This is not only a local matter but provincially and federally, not to mention, it’s also globally. However, I will answer your questionnaires with discretion and care.

Q 1: If elected, what will you do to reduce the rising vulnerability among young children in your community?

Having been involved with the Westside Health Network Society for the past 3-4 years, I have learned that the most effective way of reaching out to those that needed most help is through small pockets of NPO in our municipality. Specialized society (NPO) with special skills and knowledge can better handle the much needed social problems in our municipality. Therefore, our municipality or council do or did have grants and funds set aside for these small pockets of NPO in our society. However, I did not see in the 2017 financial reports of any funds or grants being listed for your organization (Central Okanagan Early Years Partnership). If elected, I will support your cause and follow through with your application.

Q 2: If elected, what will you do to help increase the number of quality child care spaces in our community?

In terms of the issues of increment in the number of ‘quality’ child care spaces in our community, I should be discreet about answering this question with a resolution which may be flawed or bias. I would rather study the reports from the Economic Development planning department to find out whether there are such ‘quality’ child care spaces in their plans or future plans. Incidentally, there are quite a few available commercial and industrial spaces in West Kelowna, or in the Westbank First Nation’s developed properties. Notwithstanding to the child care crisis, there is the question of who is going to take up the high cost of operating a ‘child care centre’ with rental and operating cost being so un-proportionally high even in small community like ours. I think the 3 levels of government should sit down to come up with a sensible solution to provide healthy development of our younger children who will be the future contributors to our economic and well being of our country.

Q 3: If elected, will you endorse the $10aDay Child Care Plan?

Yes, even though it is a small sum (3.6% or less) if you measure it against the monthly fee stated in your article. Again, the question is when and how?

Q 4: If elected, will you advocate for free access to public transit and recreation services for children and reduced transit fares for low-income individuals, families and seniors?

To my knowledge, this free access to public transit and recreation services were available for many years in B.C. where low income individuals/residents can claim it through their income tax filings. However, because of many other new benefits introduced by the provincial & federal government, these free access to public transit & recreation services has been discontinued. In terms of local public recreations services, I believe there is still a reduced fees for children & seniors available but not free. However, if there is a cost-benefit solution proposed by the experts in this field, I will certainly advocate for this proposal.

Q 5: The municipal government has a responsibility to avoid contributing to the problem of low-wage poverty. If elected will you commit to adopting a living wage policy requiring the municipality (or school district) to pay a living wage to both it’s employees and contract staff?

To my astonishment, you are saying that our average living wage(ALW) is $21.00 per hour which is a bit over 60% of the provincial minimum wage. However, looking at the wages, benefits & professional dev., and contract services paid in 2017 as reported in our municipality F/S, it was in excess of 48.3% of our total revenue, which led me to believe that our municipality staffs and contractors were paid way above the ALW as mentioned. However, from my perspective, I know that the majority of the small businesses here in West Kelowna can not afford the above mentioned ALW. I believe the ALW is mainly contributed by the recently high cost of rent and the housing crisis.

Q 6: Homelessness and housing affordability is a regional issue that has “spillover effects” from one community to another. If elected, how will you work with the City of Kelowna to support the Journey Home Strategy at a regional level?

Homelessness and affordable housing issues will be a growing concern across BC and for that matter, across the country. In most part of the USA, you can buy a home or house for less than $150K or in some areas less than $100K, but not here in Canada even in small cities in the Okanagan like West Kelowna, Peachland, Penticton, Vernon. Small and young city like West Kelowna do not have a budget to contribute to affordable housing much less to discuss about the ‘Journey Home Strategy’ with more pressing issues like our city infrastructure to meet the growing demand of population growth. Unless we can offer incentive for philanthropies to donate or fund for low-cost housing for the low-income residents/ or local homeless people. You may work with the provincial or federal governments, but they can take forever especially when there are constant changes of political parties. Realistically we can talk but no ‘action’.

Q 7: If elected, will you participate in and support the Central Okanagan Poverty Reduction Committee - both with financial and staff resources - to develop a local poverty reduction strategy? Please describe what you see as your City’s role.

I gathered that COPRC is a registered NPO in BC and to be honest with my participation & support, I will not be able to time and commitment to a cause that I cannot provide at tis time. However, should the council resolute to take up the concerns & issues of poverty reduction in our community, I would surely vouch for your application for grants or funding. I salute you in your cause and we shall take one bite at a time against poverty.

Jerome Chung

For West Kelowna councillor

Working Together on Early Childhood Development

 in the Central Okanagan

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2604 Enterprise Way #8, Kelowna, BC   V1X 7Y5

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