Safe parks, quality daycare services, access to affordable housing, support for community organizations; the priorities of parents of young children are numerous in the context of municipal elections, reveals a new report released on Thursday. The organization behind this probe calls on cities to acquire a “reflex” for toddlers.
“What we see is that there are really municipalities that have developed this reflex to think of the youngest, but others less. In some places, we offer a lot of services to school-aged children or adolescents, but we think less of young children, ”says the director of the Observatory of the little ones (OTP), Fannie Dagenais.
In short, nearly 60% of the 1,001 parents who responded to the survey target the multiplication of “safe and suitable” public places and parks as a priority. This is followed by “quality” childcare services (56%) and recurrent assistance to community organizations supporting families (49%).
More than three in five Quebec parents (60%) believe that their municipality is “not doing enough” to meet their housing, affordable and social needs, among other things. About 43% of them also believe that their town hall “does little to promote the well-being and development of their child”.
“We must create a social fabric around the most vulnerable families,” says Mme Dagenais on this. She maintains that a large majority of young parents – around 80% of them – agree that their city is able to reduce social inequalities without the help of Quebec or Ottawa. “These inequalities, as we know, have been accentuated by the pandemic. Vulnerable families have suffered the most job and income loss, ”she says.
A sign that the pandemic has exacerbated certain phenomena, 62% of parents surveyed also place child abuse and neglect as an emergency to be solved. The financial insecurity of families (48%) also ranks second in this regard.
Models to follow
The OTP report cites several “inspiring initiatives” to encourage cities to do more. In Lanaudière, for example, the City of Saint-Côme invested nearly $ 1 million a few years ago to set up a new childcare center (CPE) with 52 places, to which a intergenerational park.
“If we had simply waited for the money from Quebec, this childcare center, we would still talk about it today,” illustrates the outgoing mayor of the municipality, Martin Bordeleau, who has been in office since 2013. He says that at the on the scale of his village, the simple fact of establishing a childcare service offer “brought in several young families, creating a feeling of security and revitalizing the neighborhoods”.
Mr. Bordeleau affirms that on a larger scale, the impacts of projects carried out simultaneously by municipalities are tenfold. “These are political choices that must be made. We must be heard and break this circle a little. I am not saying that governments do not have their role to play, but we must also stop waiting for funds, ”he says.
In Quebec, 78 municipalities have already received the “child-friendly municipality” certification, which stems from a movement propelled by UNICEF to recognize the efforts of cities that integrate “children’s rights into their policies, their regulations, their regulations. objectives and in their decision-making structures ”.