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Hon. James S. Cowan (Leader of the Opposition):
Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate and it’s one of a series of questions that we’ve received in response to our invitation to Canadians to submit questions to us.
This question comes from Michael Sabet of Ottawa, Ontario:
I was recently made aware of research on early childhood development that highlights the importance of parents talking to their infants. Differences in the volume of words addressed to children, which have been shown to correlate to parents’ socio-economic status, apparently lead to substantial disparity in children’s vocabulary at as early as 18 months, with the gap growing as time goes on. The research emphasizes that interventions at pre-school age come too late to make up for these differences.
This is the question:
While education is a provincial competence, is there nevertheless a role for the federal government to play in developing programs and resources for families to use in ensuring that their children are given the benefit of adequate engagement of this type from a very young age?