McGuinty government must act to block foreign takeover of Ontario's child care



    OTTAWA, Nov. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - The local child care community has sounded
the alarm about a pending takeover of early learning and child care by a
multinational child care corporation based in Australia.
    Ottawa child care advocates, parents and children took a field trip to
Premier Dalton McGuinty's constituency office today, and delivered an urgent
letter calling on the premier to:
    
        - Immediately introduce a moratorium on any further licensing of
          child care programs;

        - Amend the Day Nurseries Act to restrict licensing and funding to
          public/non-profit and First Nations early learning and child care
          programs;

        - Join with other Premiers to call on the Harper government to
          proclaim Bill C-303, the Early Learning and Child Care Act, and to
          use some of the federal surplus to fund provincial and territorial
          governments to build public/non-profit early learning and child
          care systems
    
    Child care centres across Ontario have received letters from a firm
connected to Australian multinational ABC Learning Centres, the world's
largest child care corporation, offering to purchase their centres. The
Canadian arm of this operation is 123 Busy Beavers Learning Centres.
    "The experience in Australia with ABC Learning Centres should serve as a
warning to Canada," said Diane O'Neill, Executive Director of Aladin Child
Care. "Corporate child care sent community-based programs into decline,
increased government spending and costs to parents while quality, access and
affordability suffered. We need Premier McGuinty to take immediate action to
protect community-based programs from this threat," stated O'Neill.
    "Despite recording a $143.1 million profit in 2006-07, ABC Learning
vehemently opposes wage increases for their child care staff - despite the
fact that child care workers are amongst the lowest paid workers in
Australia", said Shellie Bird, the union education officer at CUPE Local 2204,
representing child care workers in Eastern Ontario. "We know that underpaid
workers lead to higher turnover and lower quality care for children."
    Salma Malik, from Dalhousie Parents Day Care, was alarmed to hear about
the poor quality and the high costs of child care for parents in Australia.
"Parent fees have risen by 123 per cent in Australia over the past fifteen
years. I can't imagine how full-fee families could afford these kinds of
increases and think the province should ensure that parents are not left to
the mercy of corporate giants jacking up parent fees to increase their profit
margins," asserted Malik.

    For background on this issue, visit www.buildchildcare.ca/multinational




For further information:

For further information: Shellie Bird, Union Education Officer, CUPE
Local 2204, (613) 233-0228; Diane O'Neill, Executive Director, Aladin Child
Care, (613) 733-0553

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Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care

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