MHA praises Pumpkin House
October was Women’s History Month in Canada. I wanted to use this occasion to recognize the achievements and contributions of women and girls within the District of Lake Melville and throughout our history.
This year’s theme is ‘Make An impact’ in honour of the women and girls who’ve made a lasting impression as forerunners in this field. Whether as a nurse at the Labrador Health Centre or the CE of Labrador Grenfell Health, a heavy equipment operator at Voisey’s Bay, serving as the Grand Chief of the Innu Nation, or as site manager for Serco at 5 Wing Goose Bay, the women in our community have shaped our province.
Women are faced with enough challenges in excelling in the workforce. That’s why I wanted to highlight an important project underway in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Pumpkin House is moving into a brand new facility with a capacity of 92 spaces, consisting of 62 daycare spaces and 30 new afterschool spaces.
Newfoundland and Labrador has the fourth highest rate of childcare use in Canada. Access to a multi-purpose community facility and childcare centre of this kind is essential. Currently, there are over 200 children on the wait list for childcare in our community. With this new building, we hope to attract and retain skilled childhood educators through the Early Childhood Education program offered by the College of the North Atlantic in Happy ValleyGoose Bay.
Research has shown numerous benefits of childcare. Children develop early literacy and math skills in pre-school programs( ). According to Nobel Laureate James Heckman, an economist at the University of Chicago, the socialization skills learned in pre-school may be the most important for the healthy development of children. These “soft” skills are some of the most useful life skills. “Soft” skills help kids during the transition to kindergarten and years from now these same skills will help them find success in the job market.
The total cost of the new building construction is $2.4 million. The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is currently providing 40 per cent of that cost at approximately $900,000 through the Child Capacity Initiative. In addition, the Early Childhood Development Association has raised the remaining 60 per cent of which $600,000 has come through 21 community partners to date.
This goes beyond a good news story. It’s a project that will, in part, aid women in our region in reaching their full potential. I believe this initiative clearly demonstrates the commitment to improving child care in the district of Lake Melville. It is the largest initiative of its kind in the province at this time. As your MHA, I’m thrilled to see this expansion and I look forward to seeing Pumpkin House in its completion in the summer of 2019.