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On Nov. 22 , the Early Learning and Child Care Act, passed second reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 144 to 116.

Bill C303 would create national standards for child care much like the Canada Health Act creates for medicare.

There were many CUPE faces in the group of child care advocates that headed for the Hill to witness the vote. Photos of the evening are here. NDP MP Denise Savoie, who introduced the bill, welcomed advocates as they rallied outside Parliament.

Watching from the House of Commons visitors’ gallery, child care supporters broke into loud applause and rose to cheer the bill passing.

“I have butterflies in my stomach, and my hair’s standing on end,” said Ottawa child care worker and CUPE 2204 member Shellie Bird. “This really feels like a historic moment.”

CUPE 2204 president Rachel Besharah brought her eight-year-old daughter Olivia with her to witness the vote.

“I’m relieved, and I’m grateful for all the mothers and women who’ve been fighting for decades to keep child care on the agenda,” she said. Daughter Olivia said she was happy to “see this go through and know it would help people.”

Activists joined NDP MPs in leader Jack Layton’s office for a jubilant toast to the future of child care. ”The will of the people has been expressed. We want child care and this country wants child care,” said Layton.

“This is the way Parliament is supposed to work,” said Morna Ballantyne, coordinator of the Code Blue for Child Care campaign. And the work is far from over. “We are on our way to an Act. But we also want $1.2 billion now,” she added, referring to the federal-provincial agreements that Stephen Harper has cancelled.

CUPE is part of Code Blue, a coalition of more than 85 organizations formed to save the federal-provincial agreements.

Bill C303 will now be reviewed by a committee before being brought back to the House of Commons for a third vote.

Bills also need to be approved by the Senate and  proclaimed into law before they take effect.