Question Period (12.12.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, this government’s wait list for paediatric assessment and diagnostic services are preventing pre-school children from getting the quality of child care they need. Early Childhood Educators cannot effectively respond to the needs of children when children are forced to wait a year or more to be assessed. This creates a stressful work environment for ECEs and negatively impacts the care they can provide for other children.

When will this government stop putting up roadblocks that harm the quality of child care?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, child care is certainly top priority for this government and that is very evident through our 10-Year Child Care Strategy that we announced in the Budget last year.

Mr. Speaker, we are doubling our budget in child care over the next ten years to the tune of $58 million. Child care spaces are going to increase by 70 per cent. It is going to be more affordable, and quality is going to be of utmost importance, Mr. Speaker. We have a great record to stand on when it comes to child care.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s North.

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, to make matters worse for preschool children with special needs, child care providers have to wait for six months or more to assess inclusion staffing support funding. The fact is children with special needs are being shuffled from one wait list to another.

When will this government stop denying their problems and help preschool children and their parents get the special supports they need?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of those at home, I was certainly not laughing at the question but it is a little cold in here today. I was wrapped up and had to get unwrapped.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to respond to the question because it is a very serious question. Mr. Speaker, it is something that we are always concerned about in terms of development of children. That is why, Mr. Speaker, in the last few years we have invested significantly and we have seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of full-time physiotherapists here in the Province. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in the number of occupational therapists that we have put in place. We have seen a 29 per cent increase in the number of speech language pathology positions. We have seen a 14 per cent increase, Mr. Speaker, in the number of audiologists that we have provided here in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, we are very, very concerned about ensuring that we put in place the proper supports.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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