News Releases

News Release - Canada and Manitoba

October 29, 2004


New Program Will Link Parents With Services In Francophone Communities

A new program to better link parents and their preschoolers in francophone communities with comprehensive early childhood development services is being launched with $100,000, cost-shared by the governments of Canada and Manitoba, Theresa Oswald, minister responsible for Healthy Child Manitoba; Greg Selinger, Manitoba minister responsible for French language services; and Raymond Simard, St. Boniface member of Parliament, on behalf of Liza Frulla, federal minister of Canadian Heritage, announced today.

The new Centres de la petite enfance program will be established by the Coalition Francophone de la petite enfance to support parents and children at École Precieux-Sang in St. Boniface and École Gabrielle Roy in Ile des Chenes. The two demonstration sites will promote strong connections between parents, their young children and their school.

"This is a good investment as it builds on the fact that schools are the hub of life in many communities and the project supports families within their own language and culture," said Oswald. "Research shows that supporting parents improves a child's development in the early years, resulting in positive effects that can last well into adulthood."

Parents will be offered workshops, home visits, prenatal and postnatal assistance, and can join support groups that will help parents ensure the well-being of their children and better prepare them for entry into the francophone school system.

"We often say that our children represent the future of our communities and our country. This is even more true of communities in a minority situation," said Simard. "Children in Manitoba will one day be called upon to take up the torch of the French language in our magnificent part of the country. Today, we are helping them in one more way to work towards achieving this goal."

Preschool children and their families will also have improved access to existing programs such as Baby First, a home visiting program for children up to school age, and Healthy Baby, which offers financial and educational supports to pregnant women on low incomes.

"It is extremely important to consider language and culture when promoting the healthy development of children and families," said Selinger. "Successful community groups such as the Coalition Francophone de la petite enfance are focusing on the important early years of a child's development and are helping us to lay a foundation for healthy children and adults and stronger communities."

"We must give families across the country the opportunity to benefit from quality services in the official language of their choice," said Frulla. "The funding announced today for this major project is consistent with our government's desire to make this happen."

Funding from the Government of Canada for this project is provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage through the Development of Official Language Communities component. The goal of the Official Languages Support Program is to promote French and English in Canadian society and to encourage the development of official language communities in minority situations.

Funding from the Government of Manitoba for this project is provided through Healthy Child Manitoba. This cross-departmental effort, which puts the well-being of children and families first, is led by the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet. The Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet is chaired by Oswald and includes the ministers of Aboriginal and northern affairs; culture, heritage and tourism; education, citizenship and youth; family services and housing; health; healthy living; justice; and the status of women.

In the past five budgets, Manitoba has increased its commitment to early childhood development and families by more than $58 million. Of this amount, the Government of Canada will transfer $23.8 million in 2004-05. This funding contributes to Manitoba's support for children and families.

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