Affordable, Quality, Public Child Care Now: NDP

OTTAWA – Canada’s families need access to affordable, quality, public child care now, said NDP Child Care Advocate Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) and the NDP BC caucus, one year after the Conservative government cancelled provincial child care agreements.

“The façade of ‘choice’ in Conservative child care has been thoroughly discredited,” said Chow. “Ordinary families are taking the brunt of this government’s stubborn refusal to admit that it’s wrong, that it hasn’t created any new spaces, and that child care is simply unaffordable for too many parents,” added NDP MP Libby Davies (Vancouver East).

In January, the BC government said that due to the lack of federal financial support, it will reduce child care funding as of July 2007 – forcing child care providers across the province to close their doors or raise their fees.

Chow and Davies were joined by BC NDP MPs Alex Atamanenko (BC Southern Interior), Catherine Bell (Vancouver Island North), Dawn Black (New Westminster Coquitlam), Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) and Denise Savoie (Victoria). Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan), Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster) Bill Siksay (Burnaby Douglas) and Penny Priddy (Surrey North) who were unable to attend also joined their voices to the cause.

Savoie’s private members bill C-303 – the Early Learning and Child Care Act – would ensure adequate, stable federal funding for quality, affordable public child care. It was passed at Second Reading in the House of Commons in the fall.

“There are massive waitlists for child care in Victoria and across BC,” said Savoie. “The Conservative plan has utterly failed to make life more secure and affordable for families. It has robbed countless parents of choice in caring for their children.”

The NDP BC caucus called on the federal Conservatives and the BC Liberals to stop passing the child care buck and cooperate on a national public child care system.

“Child care is in crisis in BC,” said Bell. “This is not the time to stand by bad public policy that is clearly having a devastating effect on ordinary families. It is time to find a better plan, and the NDP has one.”

The Conservative government has failed to implement a realistic plan for the promised $250 million targeted to create child care spaces starting on April 2007. To make matters worse, families will pay the federal government $224 million in taxes on the $100 allowance, and lose $400 million cut from the cancelled Young Child Supplement.

The MPs called on parents and citizens who oppose these federal and provincial decisions to speak out loudly by contacting the Prime Minister and local Liberal and Conservative MPs to express support for Bill C-303.