Advocates Say Manitoba Child Care Agreement Sets Bar for Others

Wednesday, July 28 2010

OTTAWA - The federal government's child care deal with Manitoba is great news for children and families and should spur the other provinces and territories to negotiate equal or better agreements, says the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.

"This is a strong bilateral agreement, a model for how different levels of government with a shared commitment to children can work together and move forward," said CCAAC chair Debra Mayer. "It is a breakthrough for building a funded, universal and inclusive child care system. We anticipate that the child care agreement that will be announced later today with Saskatchewan will also provide a sound basis for developing a system. It will be up to the other provinces and territories to also walk the talk of early learning and child care and get deals with the federal government based on this template."

Mayer said that the agreement underscores the urgent need for passage of the child care provisions in the federal budget so that child care funding can start to flow.

"Children and families right across Canada are now being held hostage to political opportunism," she said. "We need an activist Parliament to get the things done that matter most to Canadians, such as putting in place the foundation for a pan-Canadian child care system, our first new social program in a generation. In the days ahead, parents, child care workers and advocates will be sending that message to our federal politicians."

The association is pleased to see accountability for spending child care dollars included in the agreement. "We hope that once the details become known, we'll see a strong and meaningful mechanism that includes the requirement to report to the legislature and to Parliament. This is critical to ensuring that Canada moves from a patchwork approach to the development of a real child care system, and we will keep pushing for concrete accountability measures in all agreements and at the federal level."

The association also praised the commitment to ensure that funding for new child care spaces will be earmarked for non-profit, community-based child care. This is essential to ensure accountability to the community and high quality services, and prevent big corporate child care chains from setting up shop in the province. "The federal government should insist that this be part of all subsequent child care agreements."

As well, Manitoba's five-year plan specifically stipulates that there will be money for licensed nursery schools, "giving parents at work or at home the kind of part-time options for developmental programs for their children that we'd like to see in other provinces and territories."

Mayer said the agreement is proof that a pan-Canadian child care system can include flexibility in delivery of regulated early learning and child care programs according to provincial and territorial needs.

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