Protests across British Columbia against the Harper and Campbell governments
Vancouver (7 Feb. 2007) - The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) says it could cost taxpayers upwards of $5 million to close child care support services across the province by this fall. The finding is based on an initial survey of child care resource and referral centres across the province.
Child care supporters say the actions of Gordon Campbell's Liberal government add up to a gross mismanagement of public services and funds. Its decision to cut funding, along with the order to close down these services, comes as an abrupt about-face after originally deciding to invest millions to expand these same community services.
The losses will be felt most deeply by children, working families, communities and employers.
Parent fees are going up. Wait lists, which are long already, will worsen. Some day cares will close because of the loss of funding, plus a cap on the funding for new child care spaces.
The Berry Patch in Dawson Creek was forced to close last week, leaving 42 children without care. Plans for new child care centres in Kimberly, Nelson, Esquimalt and Vancouver have been scrapped. Parent-Baby Talks at health units will end in Victoria. There will be no more toy lending library on the Sunshine Coast, nor in many other communities.
There will be no more regulation or monitoring of unlicensed child care services as criminal record checks and site inspections are eliminated. Employers will have a harder time keeping workers if parents can’t find reliable child care. More child care workers will leave for better-paying jobs.
Rita Chudnovsky, with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C., says the Harper Conservative government in Ottawa and the Campbell administration in B.C. have both failed children and families. Yet across our province, communities are mobilizing to save child care, she adds.
Dozens of Restore Child Care community protests were held on Tuesday, a year to the day since the Harper government was sworn in and cuts to national child care funding were pushed to the top of its agenda. More protests are planned for February 13, including a rally in Victoria when the next Campbell Throne Speech is presented to the legislature.
Protest activities include employer-led daycare closures, community rallies, town hall meetings, stroller walks, wearing black for Black Days for Child Care and letter-writing campaigns.
"The closure of child care resource and referral centres cuts the lifeline to child care providers who provide crucial services in our smaller isolated communities," says Deb Jarvis, Executive Director of Kootenay Kids.
Dr. Todd Kettner, a member of Dads for Daycare, adds: "As a dad and a psychologist, I know the importance of quality child care for children. But our communities need it too. Businesses in the Kootenays are cutting hours because they can’t find staff, while there are many parents who want to work but can’t find child care."
Toni Hoyland, president of Early Childhood Educators of B.C., points out that no other province or territory has announced cuts in response to loss of federal child care funds. "That’s shameful. We call on the BC government to restore the $50-million it has cut from annual child care funding since 2002, and to invest in building a stable child care system." NUPGE