Delegates at the Child Care Sector meeting heard from expert panelists on the topic of “Connecting with Canadians on Child Care.” Panelists Sharon Gregson, an outspoken child care advocate and the Director of Child and Family Development Services for Collingwood Neighbourhood House; Trish Hennessy, Director of Strategic Issues for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; and CUPE researcher Margot Young shared information and answered questions.
“We need affordable, quality child care that pays people a decent wage for doing the work,” said Gregson. A plan was developed in partnership by the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of BC and the Early Childhood Educators of B.C. It builds on national and international evidence and integrates the strength of public education with quality child care. Their next step will be to draft legislation.
CUPE Researcher Margot Young spoke about the Australian experience where big box corporations used predatory pricing to squeeze out community providers. In 1971, 70 per cent of child care was community-based. Currently 70 per cent of child care is privately delivered. Corporations have the highest rate of exemptions from standards and in low income areas, people have no access to child care. In Canada, we continue to fight off privatized child care services and although our fight continues, we have seen successes. The Edmonton School Board recently passed a resolution not to rent to a publicly-traded child care provider.
Trish Hennessy shared research from recent focus groups that parents want options, flexibility and want to trust their children’s child care providers. Parents across Canada are having difficulty finding child care spaces that are affordable. Costs often prevent one parent from working. “It’s a struggle to find options they can trust for before nine and after five,” said Hennessy. “They want happy kids in a warm, supportive, nurturing environment where they play with other kids.” Research shows that Canadian parents trust a public, regulated system that puts children’s needs ahead of corporate profits.
Co-Chair and Early Childhood Educator Randi Gurholt-Seary introduced the panelists and chaired the panel discussion. National Child Care Working Group Co-Chair Jamie Kass shared what the working group has accomplished over the last two years, including sponsoring forums across the country that were well-attended. Kass encouraged delegates to participate on the convention floor and help make child care a priority in the coming years.