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OTTAWA – Canadian workers and parents are about to turn up the heat on Stephen Harper, as they feel the full impact of his government’s cut and run approach to child care. The Conservative government’s $1 billion child care cut took effect March 31.

Stephen Harper cut funding to child care, and ran for cover behind a flawed mix of tax breaks for businesses and taxable cheques for parents. Neither delivers the quality child care system this country so desperately needs,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist.

Across the country, CUPE members are joining protests against the cuts, organized by the Code Blue for Child Care coalition.

In 2006 Harper cancelled the federal-provincial agreements that laid the foundation for a system of high-quality, regulated, non-profit early learning and care. On March 31st, funding for the agreements ends.

The federal budget hands $250 million to the provinces, but it’s not enough and there’s no guarantee the cash will be spent on child care,” says Moist. “This cut puts our hope for child care to become Canada’s next social program on life support.”

Losing $1 billion spells trouble for CUPE members who are parents seeking child care. It’s also bad news for child care workers struggling to delivery quality services, many of whom are CUPE members.

Research shows good wages and working conditions are the best way to ensure quality care. Yet the sector’s struggling to recruit and keep experienced, trained workers. This cut will deepen the instability in an already fragile system. Without a serious and sustained investment, we won’t be able to build a system that gives kids the best start in life,” says Moist.

CUPE is calling for the $1.2 billion to be restored, and for the government to support the plan for a pan-Canadian child care system laid out in Bill C303. It’s also vital that provincial governments keep pressure on the federal government, and continue funding and building quality child care in their provinces.

The Tories have blown it on child care. Stephen Harper better prepare to take some heat from angry parents and workers. And he should be worried he and his government could get burned come election day,” concluded Moist.

Visit cupe.ca/childcare for budget analysis and other background.

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For more information: Paul Moist, CUPE national president, 613-558-2873; Claude Généreux, CUPE national secretary-treasurer, (Francophone spokesperson) 514-884-5074; Catherine Louli, CUPE Communications, 613-851-0547