A Prince George doctor has been appointed to sit on a federal panel of experts on early learning and childcare.
“I think the work is extraordinarily important for all children in Canada,” says Dr. Margo Greenwood, who is also Northern Health’s vice-president of Indigenous health, and the academic lead for the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health.
The purpose of the expert panel is to inform Jean-Yves Duclos, the minister of families, children and social development, and to provide advice on the development of an early learning and child care data and research strategy.
“I feel quite honoured that I would be selected to be a part of that group and I think it’s really important to work, so I’m looking forward to the development of a strategy around research and data for children in the country,” she says.
Greenwood’s work is concentrated on the health and well-being of Indigenous children and families. She has worked as a frontline caregiver of early childhood services, she designed early childhood curriculum, programs and evaluations, and she’s taught early childhood education courses at both the college and university levels.
She has also served on numerous national and provincial federations, committees and assemblies and worked with United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations, and the Canadian Reference Group to the World Health Organization Commission on Social Determinants.
“We don’t have a universal system for all children so I think access to services is a huge issue for anybody,” says Greenwood, adding that the panel will work to inform the country's priorities for early learning and childcare.
“There’s lots of scientific evidence to show the development of children’s brains and the kinds of supports and environments they should be in and experience in their early lives. That’s the fastest time of growth and development of the brain, so we want to make sure we are giving them optimal experiences and optimal environments so they can develop to their fullest potential.”
Greenwood will be one of 14 panellists, chosen from over 220 Canadian and international nominees.
“I see this as a very holistic mandate where we are looking at children and families and communities,” says Greenwood. “This is why it’s so important to just give our children the very best possible start that we can; they will be the leaders of tomorrow. We need to be investing in children now. It is extraordinarily short-sighted if we do not do this.”
Greenwood says she is grateful for the opportunity and is open to listening to and hearing concerns, and ideas from community members.
“It’s about the people we serve,” says Greenwood. “What really counts is are we going to make a difference on the ground in childrens', parents' and families' lives. Is it going to be better for them? That’s what we should be asking, in my opinion, on the panel.”
The expert panel will operate for 18 months and will sit for its first session sometime later this summer.