TORONTO, Ont. – In a year that saw the cancellation of dedicated federal funding for childcare, the Dalton McGuinty government has failed thousands of families waiting for child care spaces by not making good on an additional $300 million election promise for children’s services, says Sid Ryan, Ontario President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Three years ago, Dalton McGuinty made a commitment to spend an additional $300 million for its Best Start Program, that includes child care. The government has blamed Harper’s cancellation of funding for not proceeding with this project, said Ryan. “The point is that, while the government claims to have opened new child care spaces, there is no evidence that McGuinty has spend a cent of the $300 million. It’s time Dalton stepped up to the plate and took up the slack created by Harper to provide desperately needed publicly funded quality child care services.” Ryan was speaking at the 6th Annual Child Care Worker and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day at Toronto City Hall.
At the event, Toronto City Councillor Janet Davis noted that, while the City had expected to receive $14 million for child care wage improvements from the province, only $2 million had come through. “The money that we did receive went to all community child care centres across the city to increase the wages of the lowest paid workers,” said Davis.
Ryan also called on the province to invest an estimated $60 million windfall that it will receive from taxes that parents will pay on Stephen Harper’s new $1200 ‘universal child care benefit.’ “That’s a new-found pool of money that McGuinty must dedicate right now to meeting the needs of parents across the province.”
“It is simply not acceptable to allow publicly funded, quality child care to languish. We also need to build child care through a new law similar to the Canadian Health Act.” Ryan said that is the promise of the NDP’s Bill C-303, the Early Learning and Child Care Act. “Let me assure you that CUPE and our coalition partners in child care are dedicated to keeping pressure on all three levels of government as we move into municipal and provincial elections and a possible federal election.”
Ryan, whose union represents childcare workers and early childhood educators, said that child care workers play a key role in shaping children’s social, physical, emotional and cognitive development. “It’s an opportunity to honour them and the vitally important work they do. The best way we can honour them is to fund a publicly funded child care system dedicated to quality, universality, and accessibility.”
This day of recognition and appreciation for the importance of the work of child care workers and early childhood educators was founded six years ago by CUPE Ontario and the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care (OCBCC), and has been proclaimed by municipalities across the province.
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