In this time of financial crisis, many aspects of the healthcare system on PEI are being reviewed. Best Start, a community-based program that assesses the parenting environment for all new borns on PEI and which offers in-home support for new parents that are having challenges is on the list for review. Millions of dollars have been already invested in this program by the Federal Government and there is a three year long agreement signed. It is the only viable intervention program of its type on PEI that works to improve many of our intractable social and health problems. As a result of this program, PEI is nationally recognized as the leader in the field and can anticipate more investment from both the Feds and from the public sector. With a cancellation, we lose not only what we have but any real future that could be gained from the success of the program. We go to the end of the line.
I acknowledge that there are many difficult decisions that face the Premier. But can this be the easy sacrifice? What will be the real cost of cutting this program?
Here is my open letter to Premier Pat Binns that makes the case from my perspective
Trust and Prince Edward Island’s Leadership Position
In the many years of discussion we have had with you and many senior members of your government, we have been struck by your collective understanding of how working with the parents of the very young will give Islanders the best chance of reducing many of the drivers of social dysfunction and remedial cost that bear down upon us as a society.
We know that you understand the linkages between parenting and health, literacy and behaviour.
We are convinced that it is your support that has made it possible for us to pull in the support of the Federal Government and the research community who see PEI as the most valuable place to spearhead a national strategy. Many of the leaders in the field have met many of you and are now convinced that Canada’s best chance lies with PEI and with your leadership. Your election promise supporting Best Start in the last election campaign has provided us with the momentum to open more doors of political, business and financial support.
We are in active negotiations with senior members of the Federal Government, supported by the National Research Community and by the leadership of UPEI and Holland College to have them specify PEI as the Test Bed for a national program with all the attendant support and funding that such a decision will bring.
We understand that this is a time when very difficult fiscal decisions will need to be made. We believe that the price eliminating Best Start will be very high.
With your support, PEI has agreements in place with the Federal Government and with the 7 Family resource centres. With your support, PEI is now recognized throughout Canada as the most advanced province in the country in building a sound foundation of support for parents and children in the early years when most is possible.
We believe that to walk away from this public commitment to Islanders, to the Federal Government and to the community of parents and Family Resource Centres risks shifting Prince Edward Island from being the leader in Canada to being off the map.
We cannot see how it will be possible to rebuild the trust once it has been lost. So to save $379,000 in 03/04 and $534,000 in 04/05 what do we risk?
If you read this, please ask yourself what alternatives have your officials offered to the points raised by me? What plans do you have that are better than this to tackle the social and learning trends that have the power to take us down as a viable society?
Well the budget is just around the corner. Our officials and the cabinet are meeting right now to find a way through what is becoming a financial crisis. Every day we hear of a new problem. The fishery is failing. Our farmers are bleeding to death. Our healthcare costs are out of control. The feds have their own unfolding crisis and have a such a weird budget process that we only hear of how much less they will pay us on a last minute basis.
What will they do? What will we do? First a cautionary story.
40 years ago a young woman called Kitty Genovese was walking from her car to her home in Queens in New York. A man jumped out and attacked her with a knife. She called out for help and he backed off. But no one came. So he attacked her again. She screamed for help. He ran off and drove off. But no one came. So he returned and killed her in the doorway of her home. He took an hour to kill her. 38 neighbours watched him do it from their windows. No one called the police. No one came to her aid. How could 38 people witness a murder than took an hour and do nothing? The answer to this question is important for us today as we look out of our own windows and watch a life and death crisis unfold before us.