Bill C-303, the NDP’s Early learning and child care act, returns to the House of Commons on Nov. 20 for a debate on the report stage, with a vote on Nov. 21. The bill has the support of all three opposition parties, but the speaker has ruled that it needs Stephen Harper’s approval to become law. Third and final reading is expected early in 2008.
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The bill prevents the future expansion of for-profit child care by directing all federal funds into public, non-profit child care delivery – a move that would stem the flow of public dollars to corporations like ABC Learning. This giant corporation appears to be embarking on a Canadian buying spree through 123 Busy Beavers, a company with close links to ABC.
Code Blue for Child Care is calling for federal action against a foreign takeover, pointing to Bill C-303 as the best protection. NDP children’s critic Olivia Chow and Liberal child care critic Ruby Dhalla joined Code Blue in a Parliament Hill news conference demanding that Stephen Harper drop his opposition and make the bill law.
Chow has spent the past week touring the country raising the alarm about ABC’s buying spree, including a stop in Halifax on Nov. 8. CUPE child care activists Lynn Howes, president of CUPE 4745, and national child care working group member Beth Diamond participated in Chow’s round table event.
CUPE continues to work closely with Code Blue and other child care advocates supporting Bill C-303. CUPE is also pressing for the funding it takes to build a high-quality, non-profit child care system. Money is not in short supply, as the Conservatives showed with their recent mini budget, which contained tax cuts that could instead have paid for the phasing in of a pan-Canadian non-profit public child care guaranteeing a space for every three- to five-year-old in Canada.