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KINGSTON With the future of Kingstons city-run day care centres being decided soon, the union representing municipal child care workers is launching a public information campaign aimed at area residents.

CUPE Local 109 says city-run day care centres have been setting the standard for quality child care for 30 years here in Kingston and theyre worth fighting for.

Child care worker Sina (SEE-nah) Chiappetta (CHEE-ah-PEH-tah) says, The highly trained caregivers at the Depot and Oakwood Day Care Centres have proven over the years that having a stable workforce, with decent working conditions and a living wage has a direct link to the quality of child care provided.

While CUPE is laying the blame for the funding crunch on provincial downloading, it says the city would be short sighted if it thinks abandoning its responsibility to provide affordable, quality child care to area families is the solution.

Recent statistics clearly show the need for high quality child care services has grown as more women work and return to work after having children. Seventy per cent of mothers with young children under age six are in the paid workforce. Almost nine in 10 women return to work after giving birth.

CUPE says the City of Kingston cannot repeat the mistakes made in the province of Alberta, where strong lobbying from commercial care providers saw for-profit child care put on an equal footing with non-profit and municipally run centres in 1980.

There the province took over full funding of subsidies as well as the administration of child care, and then cut the subsidies. By 1999, provincial operating grants had been phased out and child care fees had risen as much as 60 per cent.

The high quality, municipally run centres in Alberta have all but disappeared, and long waiting lists confront parents wanting not-for-profit child care. Staff turnover rates in Alberta day cares are now the highest in Canada at 45 per cent compared to the national average of 35 per cent.

CUPE is urging the City of Kingston to make a commitment to stable funding for its municipal day care centres. It will be running radio and newspaper ads, lobbying councillors and holding public meetings on the future of city-run day cares.

For information:
Sina Chiappetta, CUPE Local 109 Spokesperson
(613) 549-2403 (h)
John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep.
(416) 292-3999 (o)