BURNABY – CUPE childcare workers joined advocates, service providers and parents in protests and press conferences across the province on Tuesday to oppose recently announced provincial government cuts to childcare. These protests will be culminating in a major protest before the Legislature in Victoria on February 13, 2007 at 12:00 pm.
A press conference was held in Vancouver outside the CUPE-represented Britannia Childcare Centre and was attended by David Chudnovsky, MLA Vancouver-Kingsway; Jenny Kwan, MLA Vancouver-Mt Pleasant; Bruce Rolston, NDP Finance Critic; Shane Simpson, MLA Vancouver-Hastings. CUPE Local 15 childcare worker and CUPE National Child Care Working Group member Randi Gurholt-Seary was also present along with some of her coworkers. The NDP was calling on the Campbell government to use some of the province’s $2 billion surplus to restore cuts to the childcare system.
The BC Liberal government has cut $50 million from the provincial budget for childcare, including a series of childcare funding reductions just announced in January. These recent reductions include a 77 percent reduction in the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) program which will result in the closure of 45 CCRR centres by the fall. CUPE represents these workers in communities across BC.
In Maple Ridge, approximately 50 childcare workers and advocates turned out to an early morning rally to protest the loss of services and jobs of five CUPE members from CUPE Local 3941 of the Maple Ridge Community Services Council. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows NDP MLA Michael Sather was also there to support the rally. Hundreds of cars honked at the sight of the “Protect Quality Child Care in BC” signs and CUPE flags.
Previously, the reduced subsidies for low-income families seeking care forced childcare centres to close and precious spaces to be lost. And while other provinces waged a public fight for the federal-provincial childcare agreement, the Campbell government stayed silent, a move that cost BC families over $600 million in funding for children under six.
Activists gathered at town hall meetings to discuss action plans to stop the cuts. In Maple Ridge almost a hundred advocates attended. CUPE 3941 member and child care worker Lynn Malbeuf was represented on the panel which gave testimonials and then called for action. Malbeuf said that “the goal should be to create more childcare spaces and to ensure safe, quality affordable childcare.” Then, they brainstormed to develop a community action plan.
The story was similar at a Richmond town hall meeting that was also well attended. While there is so much to blame the Stephen Harper government for, everywhere, workers, advocates and parents were adamant that the BC Liberals should not be able to get away with only blaming the federal government for this most recent set of cuts and the constant erosion of the child care system in the province.
CUPE members are encouraged to come out and support your brothers and sisters, working families and the children of this province in the February 13 day of protest planned by the Early Childhood Educators of BC (ECEBC).
Buses have been arranged to transport childcare advocates from Vancouver and Nanaimo to the legislature in Victoria. These buses will leave Oakridge mall at 41st/Oak in Vancouver at 7:30 am to make the 9 am ferry. Departure times for the Nanaimo bus is still to be determined. If you wish to take the bus email the ECEBC office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1.800.797.5602.
If you plan to participate in local actions taking place in your community, please don’t forget your CUPE flags!
CUPE continues to advocate for a publicly funded, community based, non-profit childcare system that is high quality, affordable, assessable, and accountable. We all know that a nationally funded quality childcare system would benefit children, their parents and the community.