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Big box operator eyes Canada’s child care

The world’s biggest child care corporation appears to be on a Canadian buying spree – a development that threatens the future of a public, non-profit child care system.

In recent months a corporation called 123 Busy Beavers Learning Centres has approached for-profit child care centers in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario, asking if they would be interested in selling.  Despite the home-grown name, 123 Busy Beavers is linked with huge Australian multinational child care corporation ABC Learning Centres.

CUPE helped uncover information showing the close links between 123 Busy Beavers and ABC Learning, through a child care corporation called 123 Global.

Big box expansion into Canada will divert public funds into private corporations, erode regulations and quality, increase user fees and trigger restrictive international trade rules.

ABC Learning has denied any connection with the corporate buyouts underway.

Ontario owes women $78 million

Pay equity became law in Ontario almost 20 years ago yet today the government owes $78 million to working women.

Between now and 2011, that number will rise by $467.9 million.

The women in question – more than 100,000 – work in predominantly female workplaces such as child care centres that use the proxy comparison method for pay equity.

Many child care workers and early childhood educators live in poverty because this government has failed to live up to its commitment to fund pay equity,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn.  “If the McGuinty Liberals are serious about reducing poverty, meeting their legislated pay equity obligations is a good start.”

Janitorial staff join CUPE 3338 at Simon Fraser University

CUPE 3338 has 139 new members this week after organizing cleaners who work at SFU’s Burnaby and Surrey campuses.

Joann Field, vice-president of CUPE 3338, says that her local is committed to working with the new members to address outstanding issues.  “We have the ability and resources within our local and within CUPE to finally offer these women and men a truly unionized workplace.”

CUPE 3338 represents clerical, support, technical and other workers at all of the Simon Fraser University sites.

CUPE predicts public education chaos with Ministry funding change

A late change to the provincial funding formula will force BC school boards to make do with $50 million less this year.

CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill says that the late change to the funding formula makes a mockery of the planning processes that districts go through.  “Parents, students, staff and teachers all take the time to participate in budget consultation processes.  Then the Ministry, with no notice, changes the rules after the fact.  This just adds to public concerns about the funding of our K-12 system.”

CUPE will be encouraging school districts to ask the government to reconsider the funding change.

Journal de Québec lockout at six months

Six months after their employer locked them out, morale among CUPE members at Le Journal de Québec is still strong.

It’s been difficult.  Families have fallen apart.  Lives have been changed.  And the culture at the newspaper – which had never seen a contract dispute in its 40 year history – has been changed forever.

For many, MediaMatinQuébec has been the inspiration that has kept them going.  The workers began producing the daily, freely-distributed newspaper two days after the lockout began.

Quebecor has gone to court to stop the workers from producing their newspaper, but they’ve been turned back every time.

The unions have won a complaint against the company under the province’s anti-scab law and have filed another.

Fight poverty campaign to be launched in Atlantic Canada

Halifax CUPE locals launched the CUPE-Oxfam campaign for public services October 27.

The campaign stresses the importance of public services – education, health care, safe water and sanitation – in fighting poverty for all.  These have been Canada’s key to development.

Millions of the world’s poorest people suffer and die each day because they don’t have access to safe water, working toilets, health care and education.

Privatizing these vital services, as many poor countries are forced to do, will further exclude the poorest and most vulnerable peoples.

:jvp/cope 491