PATHS Equity for Children
A program of research into what works to reduce the gap for Manitoba's children


  • University of Manitoba

Nominated Principal Investigator

  • Marni Brownell
  • Patricia J Martens (deceased)
  • Program team

    Co-Principal Investigators

    • Alan Katz
    • Dan Chateau
    • Nathan Nickel
    • Elaine Burland
    • Jennifer Enns


    • Mark Smith
    • Colleen Metge
    • Mariette Chartier
    • Greg Finlayson
    • Malcolm Doupe
    • Randy Fransoo
    • Doug Jutte
    • Lisa Lix
    • Rob Santos
    • James Bolton
    • Laurence Katz
    • Colette Raymond
    • Les Roos
    • Noralou Roos
    • Jon McGavock
    • Ashley Struthers
    • Catherine Charette
    • Kathryn Sibley
    • Lorraine Larocque
    • Ciara Shattuck
    • Chelsey McDougall
    • Heather Sipsma


    • Michael Kramer
    • Dawn Ridd
    • Linda Romphf
    • Jeanette Edwards
    • Souradet Shaw
    • Horst Backe
    • Michael Moffatt
    • Marg Synyshyn
    • Joanne Waskin
    • Cynthia Carr
    • Marion Ross
    • Jino Distasio
    • Strini Reddy
    • Harvey Stevens
    • Leanne Boyd
    • Beverly Zakaluk
    • Joanne Dumaine
    • Wenda Dickens
    • Michael Routledge
    • Marion Cooper
    • Susan Chipperfield
    • Shelley Jonasson
    • Megan Azad


    • Jason Randall
    • Aynslie Hinds
    • Leah Crockett
    • Michael Isaac
    • Aran Dangerfield
    • Jennifer Volk
    • Jon Fischer
    • Ada Jane Okonkwo
    • Lorena Plastino Vehling
    • Ali Raza
    • Lindsey Dahl

Research objective

Drs. Alan Katz, Elaine Burland, Pat Martens, Marni Brownell, Dan Chateau and Nathan Nickel of the PATHS Equity project

The goal of this program of research is to understand and evaluate the impact of multiple interventions on the health and well-being of children, taking into consideration the impact of these interventions on inequities in socioeconomic status, geography and gender at different points during childhood.


To accomplish the program goal, the team is:

  • evaluating which health and social interventions are associated with an improvement in overall health and well-being of children, and a reduction in inequities or gaps;
  • enhancing population-based methodologies on equity measurement using administrative databases;
  • exploring the potential benefits of integration of child health programs and policy and the impact on inequity;
  • examining qualitatively, for selected outcomes, potential regional and cross-agency organizational barriers or facilitators in reducing inequity for children

Project update: Would full-day kindergarten reduce the gap for Manitoba’s children?

Across provinces in Canada, there is a mix of full-day kindergarten (FDK) and half-day kindergarten (HDK) programs for young children. The value of FDK is currently under debate. Some argue that these programs improve children’s readiness for school and contribute to their future academic success. Others suggest that FDK may not be cost-effective and could possibly have negative consequences for participating children and their families.  Despite the debate, some provinces have made FDK programs widely available.

The PATHS Equity for Children research program is the first in Canada to look at the effect of FDK on how well students perform in school beyond primary school. Dr. Brownell and her team looked at the differences in performance between children who had attended FDK compared to those who attended HDK. The team looked at how well the two groups of students did in a variety of subjects when they reached grades 3, 7, 8 and 9. 

The results showed small improvements in performance for some subjects for children attending schools in low income neighbourhoods, but no overall differences between children who attended FDK compared to HDK. The results suggest that there may be some benefit to offering these programs for students attending schools in low income areas, but not all students.

Based on these results the Manitoba Department of Education decided not to implement FDK for all students in the province. The large school division that was pushing for FDK implementation has now decided to start with a pilot project and full evaluation of the program before considering an expansion to all schools.

The results of the study made a rapid impact because the researchers took an integrated knowledge translation (iKT) approach. The team included decision makers in the planning of their research and this close collaboration and communication meant that the decision makers were able to act on the results of the study in a timely manner. In addition, this unique study is contributing to the national debate on the value of FDK compared to other investments in early childhood education. 

The programmatic funding received from CIHR and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has also allowed the research team to “think big” in the planning stages of the program and develop a large set of data for future studies.

Associated links

Selected publications

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