November 11, 2021

Open letter - 6th Annual Early Childhood Week: Spotlight on Prevention and Creating Caring Communities

6th Annual Early Childhood Week: Spotlight on Prevention and Creating Caring Communities

The Special Commission on Children’s Rights and Youth Protection, otherwise known as the Laurent Commission, issued a series of recommendations in May 2021. It is these recommendations that are the inspiration behind the focus of this year’s 6th annual Early Childhood Week (ECW). The Collectif petite enfance, the entity behind ECW, has pledged to keep a close eye on the actions taken in response to the Commission’s report, specifically as they relate to creating caring communities and prevention. Therein lies the key.

Giving a voice to our young children

Early Childhood Week aims to give a voice to the 534,000 children 5 and under in Quebec in order to make early childhood development a true priority for our society. We must shine the spotlight on their needs and on the importance of supporting them from the womb through their first five years of life to make sure they have the right tools to grow and thrive. That is what ECW is all about.

As economist Pierre Fortin recently reminded us, “Early childhood is the most important stage of development, as the three scientific disciplines of neurology, psychology and economy unequivocally hold up as truth.”[1] Today more than ever, we need to step up our efforts to improve young children’s living conditions by taking preventive action — “Agir en prévention,” as the title of the second chapter of the Commission’s report puts it.

What does prevention mean exactly?

Prevention, as a general concept, refers to eliminating or reducing risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of a problem developing, while strengthening individual and collective capacities to cope with stress and adversity. Preventing abuse involves putting in place the individual, family, community, economic and social conditions conducive to healthy parent-child relationships. Put simply, a preventive approach is the pillar upon which we can build caring communities for our babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Preventive strategies

Enhancing economic support for families is the first of several preventive strategies to be deployed. But it is also important to work to change social norms to promote parental support and foster positive parent practices. Stronger parenting skills inevitably translate to better and more harmonious development pathways for children. To help ensure young children have access to the best possible living conditions and uphold our collective responsibility to protect the youngest members of our society, we need to break down the silos that separate us.

As regards abuse, harm reduction is essential to preventing future risk. It is critical to see to it that, in the years from birth to kindergarten, as many children as possible can grow up in a family environment free of coercive control, violence, abuse and neglect. Dialogue and collaboration are more crucial than ever in these situations.

Working together to support our youngest Quebecers

Prevention needs to be the cornerstone of all public policy addressing early childhood matters. By joining forces, the members of the Collectif petite enfance, their partners and allies, and our elected officials can make a real difference in the lives of young children and continue building on these gains moving forward. Protecting children takes a collective commitment to sharing knowledge and pooling expertise. This is the key to creating the caring communities they unquestionably need and deserve.

Let’s all support the development of young children across Quebec.

Elise Bonneville

Director, Collectif petite enfance


Thomas Bastien

General Manager, Association pour la santé publique du Québec

Geneviève Bélisle

General Manager, Association Québécoise des centres de la petite enfance

Nathalie Bigras

Full professor and scientific director of Quality in early childhood education research team, University of Quebec at Montreal

Caroline Biron

Managing Partner, Woods LLP

Camil Bouchard

Doctor of Psychology, Professor-Researcher, Université du Québec à Montréal

Élise Boyer

General Manager, Fondation Olo

Monique Brodeur

Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal

Yolande Brunelle

Education lecturer, Université du Québec à Montréal

Caroline Calvé

Snowboarding Olympian and ESIM program manager, Montreal Sport Council

Jean-Marc Chouinard

President, Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation (Naître et grandir / Early Childhood Observatory)

Louise Deschatelets

Actress and columnist

Martine Desjardins

General Manager, Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec

Gabrielle Fontaine


Pierre Fortin

Emeritus Professor of Economics, UQAM

Stéphanie Gareau

Executive Director, Marie-Vincent Foundation

Alex Gauthier

Executive Director, Fédération québécoise des organismes communautaires Famille

Éric Gingras

President, Centrale des syndicats du Québec

Marie Grégoire

CEO, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

Catherine Haeck

Full Professor, Université du Québec à Montréal

Jean-Pierre Hotte

Consultant and co-author of the 2019 Agir pour que chaque tout-petit développe son plein potentiel

Jennifer Johnson

Executive Director, Community Health and Social Services Network

Dr Gilles Julien

President, Dr Julien Foundation

Carl Lacharité

Full Professor, University of Quebec, Trois-Rivières

Eve Lagacé

Executive director, Quebec Public Library Association

Guillaume Landry

Director General, International Bureau for Children’s Rights

Amélie Landry

General Manager, Réseau des Centres de Ressources Périnatales du Québec

Pierre Lavoie

Co-Founder, athlete and speaker, Le Grand défi Pierre Lavoie

Michel Leblanc

President and Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

André Lebon

Former Vice-President, Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection

Annie Lemieux

President, LS4 / LSR GesDev

Francine Lessard

General Manager, Conseil québécois des services éducatifs à la petite enfance

Isabelle Lizée

Executive director, Espace MUNI

Karel Mayrand

President and CEO, Foundation of Greater Montréal

Audrey McKinnon

Directrice générale, Réseau québécois pour la réussite éducative

Émilie McKinnon-Côté

Volunteer board member, Association d’éducation préscolaire du Québec

Laura O’Laughlin

Vice president, Analysis Group

Julie Paquette

Executive Director, Montreal Dietetic Dispensary

Éric Poulin

President, Ordre des optométristes du Québec

Marie-Josée Richer

Cofounder-owner, PRANA

Sylvie Rochette

Co-founder and General Manager, Regroupement Partage

Emma Savard

Representative, ‘’Les Instances Régionales de Concertation pour la petite enfance’’

Caroline Senneville

President, CSN

Amélie Sigouin

Executive Director, La Maison Bleue

Marjolaine Siouï

General Manager, First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission

Kim St-Pierre

Olympian (goalkeeper), Manager Business Development, BOKS Canada

Sandrine Tarjon

General Manager, Association des haltes-garderies communautaires du Québec

Gisèle Tassé-Goodman

President, Réseau FADOQ

Juan Torres

Full professor, certified planner, École d’urbanisme et d’architecture de paysage, Université de Montréal

Stéphanie Trudeau

Executive VP - Québec, Énergir

Adina Ungureanu

Coordinator, Observatoire Famille Immigration, Alliance des communautés culturelles pour l’égalité dans la santé et les services sociaux

Corinne Vachon Croteau

General Manager, Réseau pour un Québec Famille

Raymond Villeneuve

General Manager, Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité


[1] Translated excerpt from “Investissons tôt pour nos enfants”, L’actualité, August 4, 2021.

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