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VANCOUVER – With the Campbell Liberals refusing to stop the spread of big box child care across British Columbia, parents, workers and child care activists are demanding action.

The world’s largest multinational child care corporation, ABC Learning, has bought up over 1,000 American child care centres and now appears to have its sights on Canada. ABC is closely linked with a corporation called 123 Busy Beavers Learning Centres, which is actively seeking to purchase child care centres across Canada, starting in BC, Alberta and Ontario.

”This development threatens decades of work towards a high-quality, non-profit child care program in Canada. If a multinational like ABC is successful, public dollars will be diverted away from the system children need into profits, and they will quickly corner the market, driving down regulations and quality. Trade agreements will make it difficult to keep them in check,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “We need federal legislation that cuts off the steady stream of public funds that’s so enticing to a corporation like ABC.”

In Australia, where big box child care corporations like ABC dominate, quality has suffered and fees have risen – as have corporate profits. Parents in some urban centres pay over $100 a day for care, and face two-year-long waiting lists for spaces.

“The Campbell government’s recent capital funding and regulatory changes seem tailor-made to facilitate a corporation like ABC Learning’s entry into British Columbia. BC child care is not for sale and taxpayers should not be subsidizing the profits of a foreign-based multinational corporation,” says Crystal Janes, spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC. “Public money should be used to expand non-profit quality child care centres, not to turn BC child care into a foreign-owned, big-box warehouse business.”

Bill C-303, the NDP’s Early Learning and Child Care Act, would provide significant protection against a foreign, for-profit corporation taking over Canadian child care. The bill returns to the House for third reading on Nov. 20.

“We must protect our children from profit-driven child care providers. Only the NDP’s Childcare Act will stop the spread of big box child care and build the foundation for a national non-profit, high quality and affordable child care program that working parents have long demanded,” said NDP child care critic Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina).