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OTTAWA – The latest snapshot of the state of Canadian child care leaves no doubt the federal government must take an active role in improving the picture, says the president of Canada’s largest union.

Ken Dryden seems content to let the development of our next social program drift along without any clear standards or strong policy direction. This report shows that without good public policy, child care will continue to be delivered inconsistently and inequitably across the country,” said Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The report, released by the University of Toronto’s Childcare Resource and Research Unit, summarizes the state of early childhood education and care in Canada in 2004. Many of the findings are troubling, including huge regional inequities in child care spending and delivery.

The federal government has signed child care agreements-in-principle with several provinces, but the deals don’t deliver on the Liberal’s 2004 election promise of a national program that’s high-quality, universal, accessible and developmentally appropriate. CUPE has long supported child care advocates in their call for enforceable standards and accountability in how child care is delivered.

It’s time the Liberals moved beyond their recent pattern of chequebook federalism and used their spending power to help build a real child care system. Federal legislation would be a great start. Setting high standards as provinces develop the action plans that are the key to further child care cash is also important,” said Moist.

The U of T report found that in some provinces, spending on child care has actually decreased. The growth of for-profit delivery in several provinces, most notably Ontario, is also alarming.

Weak or non-existent federal policy on child care can only lead to poor quality services for children and their parents. We need leadership to rule out further growth in the for-profit sector, and to ensure that our new child care system gets built on a solid foundation,” said Moist.

With the federal budget still hanging in the balance and a nationwide election looming in the foreseeable future, the time for concrete Liberal action delivering on their 2004 child care promise is right now. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” he concluded.

The 540,000 members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees deliver a broad range of public services in communities across the country. More than 7,000 CUPE members are child care workers. The full report is at www.childcarecanada.org Visit http://cupe.ca/www/childcare/ for more on CUPE and child care.

For further information, contact:
Paul Moist, CUPE national president, 613-558-2873;
Claude Généreux, CUPE national secretary-treasurer (porte-parole francophone), 514-884-5074;
Karin Jordan, CUPE Communications, 613-222-4436.