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OTTAWA – The growth of commercial child care in Australia has created a public policy crisis, says Australian child care expert Lynne Wannan who will visit Canada in October as part of a three-week tour co-sponsored by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

One of the stops on Wannan’s tour is a presentation at the global justice forum during CUPE’s national convention in Winnipeg on Oct. 5 at 8 p.m.

CUPE and a coalition of other unions and child care organizations are concerned that governments in Canada will make funding equally available to for-profit and non-profit, community-based child care operators.

Ottawa has made $5 billion available over the next five years to the provinces and territories for child care. With few federal restrictions on who can get the money, advocates for non-profit, community-directed child care fear much of it will be siphoned off in profits.

Australia’s national government introduced funding changes a decade ago allowing corporate child care chains to emerge and gobble up public dollars, Wannan will tell audiences.

Child care players in Australia now include real estate developers, dot.com tycoons, professional athletes and stockbrokers, she says. The biggest Australian chains recently merged and are posting record profits.

ABC Learning Centres, for example, now controls 25 per cent of the sector is looking to expand beyond its borders to other countries, including here, says its Canadian-born CEO, Eddy Groves.

According to Wannan, the Australian public policy crisis means:

  • Access for immigrants, aboriginal populations, children with special needs, rural and low-income families has been restricted.
  • Community-based child care programs and small owner/operators have been squeezed out.
  • More state funding has gone to monitoring and prosecuting violations
  • The working conditions of child care workers have declined.

Wannan is a member of Australia’s National Children’s Services Reference Group, which advises the Australian minister for children. She chairs the National Association of Community Based Children’s Services of Australia. And she is a social policy analyst and an advisor to the child care sector.

Lynne Wannan’s itinerary:

Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 Ottawa
Oct. 3 & 4Vancouver
Oct. 5 & 6Winnipeg
Oct. 7Halifax
Oct. 11St. John’s
Oct. 12Fredericton
Oct. 14 & 15Toronto
Oct. 15Ottawa
Oct. 17Toronto
Oct. 18Edmonton
Oct. 20Ottawa


Barry Doyle
CUPE communications
(613) 294-9424 (cell)