It’s a pretty boring opening sentence: “The government of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services is fulfilling another commitment of the 10-Year Child Care Strategy, Caring For Our Future: Provincial Strategy for Quality, Sufficient and Affordable Child Care in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a review of the Child Care Services Act and Regulations.”
But those first 53 words aside, it’s an important topic: the provincial government wants to talk to people to find a way to improve child care in this province.
They want to review the structure behind the current system, with public involvement through written submissions. The government’s even offering up a discussion guide at www.gov.nl.ca/cyfs and the opportunity to file submissions either electronically or by mail.
So why get involved?
Obviously, there are issues that should be addressed in the child care system, as well as groundwork to be laid for future improvements, and the simple fact is that if no one registers an opinion, the government may simply assume that everyone is clearly satisfied with the status quo.
If you don’t think that can happen, stop and think about how the government suggested that the scarcity of presenters at hearings on the accesss to information act meant that the public was perfectly happy with the kinds of changes later introduced with Bill 29. Silence is assumed to be assent.
Sure, having cabinet ministers quoted as saying things like, “As a government, we view discussion and dialogue with stakeholders an important and valuable exercise. … A rich and diverse cross-section of opinions and views leads to the development of sound and strong strategies, programs and services. I encourage all citizens to contribute and participate in this important process” doesn’t exactly rev up excitement for the process.
Overall, this particular announcement is a particularly stultifying example of bureaucrat-o-speak. (See for yourself here: http://www.releases.gov.nl.ca/releases/2013/cyfs/0603n03.htm)
The purpose, though, is a good one.
And remember this: you can’t complain about your voice not being heard if you’re too busy or too apathetic to even speak in the first place. Sitting on the sidelines my be easier and more comfortable — but you end up simply being part of the problems that result.
You’re being asked for your advice: why not give it?
After all, children themselves are unlikely to provide much input, even though they are the ones most affected by decisions about child care.
It is also all part of a much larger question about how we treat those in need in our province.
If we can’t look after those among us who need the most help — the young for one, but the elderly and the otherwise-incapacitated as well — what kind of society are we, really?