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Federal government & province sign deal that forks over cash to for-profit operators

OTTAWA – The federal and Alberta governments have propped open the door to giant commercial child care chains in the deal they signed today, says D’Arcy Lanovaz, president of the Alberta division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Without public delivery conditions attached to the federal funding, the door is now open in Alberta for giant commercial operators to pad their profits with taxpayer dollars,” says Lanovaz.

Five provinces have already signed child care deals with the federal government. Alberta is the first one to explicitly stipulate the money may be directed to for-profit operators under the name of “choice” for parents. This in fact props open the door to giant commercial chains to secure “investor rights” under trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization’s agreement on services, making it harder to make the program public.

CUPE National President Paul Moist said that, with for-profit child care already entrenched in Alberta, the quality of child care will fall behind other provinces.

The best way to provide quality care, and to deliver on other principles such as universality and accessibility, is to make the system public and not-for-profit,” said Moist. “Alberta already lags behind in spending on and access to regulated child care – today’s announcement will only deepen the bottom of the for-profit barrel.”

Lanovaz noted there is a small silver lining in today’s announcement.

The federal funding is at least earmarked for child care that is licensed and regulated, making this a small but important victory against broader deregulation of child care in the province of Alberta,” he said.

The money should be spent on what we all know will deliver better quality child care – and that’s public, not-for-profit delivery,” concluded Lanovaz.

D’Arcy Lanovaz, president, CUPE Alberta, (403) 510-3334;
Karin Jordan (for French media enquiries), CUPE Communications, (613) 222-4436;
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, (613) 878-1431.