Central Okanagan 

Early Years Partnership

Philip Akins - West Kelowna Councillor

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

All of the following questions / issues touch on this overarching one: children will be less vulnerable if their parents earn a living wage and have access to affordable housing and childcare; if they have access to the support they need in school; and if they have equal access (as a right, not a costly privilege) to the same recreation and social opportunities as their peers. It is essential, I think, that our City Council has a tight relationship with community groups and, especially, the local school system to coordinate a comprehensive approach here. We (Council) can play a very important role as awareness-raiser, advocate (to higher levels of government for funding support), and network-builder.


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

As in any realm of public policy making our City depends on the work of organizations like The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and The Central Okanagan Early Years Partnership to inform decisions and actions. The suggestions they have put forward regarding child care – advocating for funding support from the province; developing local action plans with input / support from these organizations – should be implemented.


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

Yes


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 fully support the principle that cost not be a barrier to access to either transit or recreation services in West Kelowna. How do we remove that barrier without erecting an even higher one built on the stigma of a 'low income subsidy'? For children, in particular, we need to make family income as irrelevant as possible to their opportunities for learning, recreation and social engagement. If the experts agree, I would advocate for a single needs-based assessment, perhaps coordinated at the school level, to determine access to subsidies, after which the doors to participating in recreation and social events would be open, so to speak (I don't want kids or their families to have to make repeated requests for subsidies). With respect to transit, I agree that we should simply provide all school-age kids with transit passes as a matter of course, though in West Kelowna this may need to be accompanied by improvements in the service itself to have an impact. Outside the school system (i.e. for adults) an alternative method for assessing need would be required (Employee-funded transit passes? Maybe this is another area in which the city should be taking the lead; see next).


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?

Yes.*

*the small print: we would want an objective, evidence-based measure of 'living wage'


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?

This initiative has produced badly-needed research and recommendations that no doubt apply equally to West Kelowna as they do to Kelowna. Perhaps more importantly, the Journey Home Strategy is building a network of community organizations, educational institutions, and governments to address homelessness and housing affordability. By all means our city should be involved in and supportive of this initiative.


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.

As above, West Kelowna should be involved in this regional initiative. We stand to benefit from the knowledge being built about the impacts and solutions to poverty, and should contribute both staff and financial resources to making the initiative a success. The payoff is sure to outweigh the upfront investments.

Philip Akins

ph. 250-899-0354

www.philipakins.com

Working Together on Early Childhood Development

 in the Central Okanagan

Email us at:

info@coeyp.ca

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

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