Early Years Partnership
Joachim Nierfeld - West Kelowna School Trustee
Q 1: If elected, what will you do to reduce the rising vulnerability among young children in your community?
Healthy development in early childhood is a cornerstone for success at every stage of life. Reducing vulnerability for young children starts at home. Parents need to be empowered by services and support from their community, and provided with education and resources to help their children start right, regardless of income level.
As a school trustee, I would support and lobby for the expansion of programs like Strong Start, which provide structured educational and social opportunities for young children while educating parents on strategies and techniques to encourage healthy development at home. Working to connect parents with Strong Start and other resources is critical to improving childhood development in our communities. We must consider both the expansion of resources and programs for low-income families, and improving the reach and utilization of existing programs.
Q 2: If elected, what will you do to help increase the number of quality child care spaces in our community?
The ever-increasing cost of living impacts young families in a variety of ways. For many families, having one parent stay at home to provide care to their children is no longer realistic.
Increasing the access to quality child care is a challenging issue. I believe the best way to provide appropriate child care for low income families is to subsidize the child care providers with a program like the $10aDay Child Care Plan.
Q 3: If elected, will you endorse the $10aDay Child Care Plan?
As noted in my previous response, provided the plan can deliver on its promise to provide a net benefit to the economy by securing child care for working parents, thus allowing them to earn more, pay more into the system, and rely less on expensive government assistance, I believe this program is a strong solution to the child care crisis.
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?
I would seek the dialogue with the City of Kelowna with the attend to at least lower the fees for the use of public transportion to school ( one example can be French Emersion schools which might be farther away from home) . I also strongly believe in the value of sport to improve physical, mental, and emotional fitness and development. Removing barriers to access sport and recreation programs is very important to me. so again I would advocate for less or no fees for transportion.
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?
It is my understanding that our school district is very close to providing living wages for all position. Per CUPE 3523 documentation, only 4 of 14 pay grades for BC SD 23 support staff fall below the living wage standard set by COEYP. While there is room for progress in this area, I am encouraged by how close SD23 is to addressing this issue. I will support initiatives to ensure staff are compensated fairly and can support themselves and their families. Paying fair wages is more affordable than paying benefits for low-income workers.
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?
As a school trustee, my ability to impact policy on housing affordability and availability is limited. Personally, I support council approval of low income housing and rental projects to meet the growing demand in our communities.
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.
The poverty crisis in our community and across BC has never been more visible. Insofar as I am able as a school trustee, I will support innovative solutions and proposals to address poverty and its systemic impact on quality of life in our community.