A private member’s bill to ensure all children by Grade 1 have complete eye examinations returns to the Alberta legislature for second reading on April 7.
Bill 203, the Childhood Vision Assessment Act, was put forward for first reading by Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski on March 13.
Parents would have to provide a certificate signed by an optometrist or opththalmologist when registering their children for Grade 1.
Jablonski said early childhood eye examinations could catch many eye problems early that can lead to students struggling in school, behaviour and social issues. Many children don’t know they have vision problems and parents may not be aware either.
“There’s only 30 per cent of kids that have their eyes examined prior to Grade 1,” Jablonski said. “Eighty per cent of all learning involves vision.”
Alberta Health Services pays for all complete eye examinations for children up to and including age 18. Sponsors for the provincial program — Eye See. . .Eye Learn — provide free eyeglasses for kindergarten children.
“We have some good programs in place. Not enough parents are accessing those programs,” Jablonski said.
Under Bill 203, eye examine certificates would be available free of charge.