Child care workers, advocates, parents, and caregivers in Waterloo anticipate that a recent external review will recommend the immediate closure of five child care centres servicing families in the area. The report was conducted by consulting firm KPMG on the regionally-operated child care centres in the Region of Waterloo and presented to Regional Council.
“The prospect of closing or off-loading child care centres during a pandemic is absolutely shameful,” says Carolyn Ferns, Policy Coordinator at the Ontario Coalition of Better Child Care (OCBCC). “The regionally operated child care centres play an important role in the child care system in the Region of Waterloo. High-quality, public child care centres are a benchmark for decent wages, pensions, and benefits for educators who are predominately women.”
In 2015, a similar report by KPMG was also presented to council in the Region of Waterloo. Regional Council ultimately voted to keep child care centres open after strong opposition to the proposed closures outpoured from parents, community groups, advocates, and workers in child care.
“Hundreds of working families in the region are already at their breaking point during this brutal pandemic,” says Noelle Fletcher, President of CUPE Local 1883. “Losing public child care spaces due to closures or offloading them to the community will result in a destabilization of care. Many parents and caregivers may have to quit their jobs and rely on unlicensed, private care with exorbitant fees or be placed on lengthy waitlist in community based centres.”
CUPE members who work at each of the five child care centres are already fielding calls from concerned parents and community members who have a lot to lose if child care centres in the region close, CUPE Ontario reports.
“We’re ready to fight these possible closures to the fullest ability of our union working in tandem with the community,” continued Fletcher. “I’m confident that Waterloo’s regional councilors will vote the way they did back in 2015—in favor of supporting high-quality, not-for-profit, accessible child care in the region and for the families that deserve access to these integral child care spaces.”
Child care centres impacted by the possible closures include Edith MacIntosh Children’s Centre, Kinsmen Children’s Centre, Cambridge Children’s Centre, Elmira Children’s Centre and Christopher Children’s Centre.