There were three rallies outside the Legislature as the Liberal Throne Speech was being delivered yesterday. The loudest and most spirited, by far, was the demonstration that included children, babies and toddlers in strollers, parents, child care advocates, early childhood educators, child care providers and others who care about kids and want to put a stop to the cuts and advocate for quality child care services in British Columbia.
“What do we want?” chanted the crowd, “CHILD CARE.”
“When do we want it?” “NOW!” was the resounding response.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Linda Reid has got to go!” BC Minister of Child Care, Linda Reid is responsible for over $50 million just cut from the already compromised child care services in the province.
The chants spoke volumes about the clarity of the political message the protesters were “bringing home” to provincial government.
“We were loud and clear about the message to our government, stop the cuts, restore funding, build a system and demand that Linda Reid resign,” says CUPE activist and early childhood educator Randi Gurholt-Seary. “We made a lot of noise and child care had a mighty voice!”
Hundreds of child care centres across BC closed for the day of protest. Those that couldn’t make it to Victoria, rallied in their own communities. One of those communities was Terrace, where about 60 demonstrators braved a nine-hour day in high winds and blowing snow to protest the cuts.
The protest occurred at various sites throughout Terrace, including four daycare centres that all withdrew their services for the day. One of those day care centres was Paces Daycare, staffed by members of CUPE 2052-01.
CUPE 2012-01 members and workers at Terrace Women’s Centre were also present. Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) services run out of the centre will be closing, putting five full-time employees out of a job, as a result of the provincial funding cuts.
CUPE members from CUPE 2409 Northwest Community College and CUPE 2012 City of Terrace as well as children of members of CUPE 2052 came out in support as well.
“The Liberals won’t get away with blaming child care cuts on the federal government,” says Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president. “They are sitting on a record budget surplus that could be as large as $3 billion. The fact that they can’t invest in kids and working families now, shows they don’t care.”
It is predicted that the provincial government will announce a surplus of between $2.5 billion and $3 billion as part of its February 20 provincial budget release. At the same time, the most recent cuts in child care funding amount to a reduction of $40 per child.