Wednesday, October 31

Day-care advocates renew calls for public system

The case of a private Ottawa day-care provider accused of confining children to a playpen in a furnace room demonstrates anew the need for a quality, affordable national child-care system, Liberal and NDP MPs said Wednesday.

"There's a policy vacuum," NDP MP Olivia Chow told a news conference as she berated the federal Conservative government for "washing its hands" of the child-care file.

"Parents across the country are desperate. In Ottawa alone, there are 7,000 working families waiting for child care," the Toronto MP said. "And when there is not child care, you see what is happening - the festering of these illegally run child-care centres."

Chow said for-profit day care is a mistake because the quest to show a profit will suck up public funding, increase costs to parents and decrease the dollars available for the children and the workers who look after them.

She said some private centres in Alberta have already been sold to 123 Busy Beavers Learning Centres, a chain affiliated with ABC Learning Centres, an Australian-based day-care giant, and that feelers also have gone out to centres in British Columbia and Ontario.

Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla said Ranger's case in Ottawa provides a glimpse into the disturbing ramifications of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to scrap the former Liberal government's $5 billion agreement with the provinces and territories to start a national early-learning and child-care program that promised to deliver quality and access at affordable costs.

The Conservatives opted instead to provide a taxable allowance of $1,200 a year for each child under the age of six. It also planned to create 125,000 child care spaces over five years by offering tax breaks, worth a total of up to $250 million a year, to businesses that opened child care spaces. When the business community showed no interest in getting into the day-care business, the government decided to divvy up the $250 million this fiscal year among the provinces and territories, with no strings attached.

LINK: CanWest

1 comment:

Sean Cummings said...

A public system would be desirable, but I can't see it happening in a thousand years. We can't even afford to make universal health care work without breaking the bank. Ambitious project though it may be, voters won't support something they largely see as the responsibility of parents as opposed to the state.