Early Years Awards honour family-friendly businesses and organizations

Alison Paine is a senior government manager, but she is also the mother of three boys.

That gives Paine, executive director of accounts management for the B.C. public service, first-hand knowledge of how the role of a parent can have an impact on someone’s role as a responsible employee.

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“Kids get sick, they go to the dentist — they have all these kinds of things that you have to pay attention to,” she said. “And you still have to be able to work.”

So Paine was proud to accept an award Wednesday from child advocacy group Success by 6, recognizing the B.C. public service as the capital region’s most family-friendly employer as part of the fourth annual Early Years Awards. Runner-up was Thrifty Foods.

Winners in 16 categories were selected through a public survey that included about 700 completed questionnaires.

Both the B.C. public service and Thrifty Foods were chosen based on perks such as good maternity benefits, parental-leave packages and, above all, flexibility to accommodate, as much as realistically possible, the various demands on a parent.

“In past years, some employers had the erroneous idea that people who are scared and stressed will work harder,” Paine said in an interview after a ceremony at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.

“We know that’s absolutely not true. If they feel fulfilled and the balance between their life and workplace is in sync, you have the most productive and happy workforce.”

David Pitre, a former educator and co-chairman of Success by 6 on southern Vancouver Island, said the agency has been handing out the awards for three years as part of an ongoing effort to make the community more child-centred.

In particular, Success by 6 tries to convince businesses, retailers, governments and public-safety workers that children’s first few years are key to their healthy development.

“It fits with the whole notion of it taking a community to raise a child,” said Pitre, adding efforts to make businesses more child-friendly should be seen as a bonus, not a cost.

Word soon gets out about businesses that are comfortable serving families with children, he said.

“People become aware of these places and they go to these places and they support these places,” he said. “And when a merchant starts to get that kind of recognition, they see it is a niche they can fill, and that is good for business.”

Pitre said businesses and agencies across southern Vancouver Island have been enthusiastic supporters of making the community more family-friendly.

“These kinds things don’t happen unless you get support from the community,” he said. “And there has been an incredible amount of commercial support.”

Brad Finerty, assistant manager for the Langford branch of Vancity credit union, which sponsors the family-friendly employer award, said the sponsorship is a good fit for his company.

Vancity has always seen itself as a community-based company, and it does its best to support employees with family pressures.

“We try to accommodate somebody to be able to come to work, but also deal with their family and the things going on outside,” said Finerty.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

 

2013 Early Years Award Winners

Favourite park/playground
Beacon Hill Park.
Runner Up: Beckwith Park
Favourite free family activity
Beacon Hill Petting Zoo.
Runner up: Greater Victoria Public Library
Favourite family-oriented attraction
Royal B.C. Museum.
Runner Up: Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre
Favourite family retail store
Bolen Books.
Runner Up: Thrifty Foods
Favourite family-friendly restaurant
White Spot.
Runner Up: Red Robin
Favourite family-friendly employer
B.C. Public Service.
Runner-up: Thrifty Foods
Favourite family-friendly coffee or tea shop
Crumsby’s Cupcake Cafe. Runner Up: Caffe Fantastico
Favourite family recreation centre
Saanich Commonwealth Place. Runner Up: Juan de Fuca/Westshore Parks and Recreation
Favourite source of parenting information
Island Parent/Kids in Victoria. Runner Up: Vancouver Island Health Authority
Favourite child-care program
Our Children’s Centre Society. Runner Up: Cridge Centre for the Family
Favourite aboriginal child-care program
Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
Runner Up: Sum Sha Thut Lellum
Favourite preschool program
Belmont Preschool.
Runner Up: Our Children’s Centre Society
Favourite aboriginal preschool program
Journeys of the Heart (Hulitan Family and Community Services Society).
Runner Up: Little Paws Preschool (Victoria Native Friendship Centre)
Favourite child/family-friendly community program
StrongStart - School Districts 61, 62, 63.
Runner Up: 1,000 by 5
Favourite aboriginal child/family-friendly
community program
Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
Runner Up: Hulitan Family and Community Services Society
Individuals who make children feel respected and welcome
Teachers/principals. Runners-up: Librarians

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