Child care needs federal protection from foreign takeover

    VANCOUVER, Nov. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - With the Campbell Liberals refusing to
stop the spread of big box child care across British Columbia, parents,
workers and child care activists are demanding action.
    The world's largest multinational child care corporation, ABC Learning,
has bought up over 1,000 American child care centres and now appears to have
its sights on Canada. ABC is closely linked with a corporation called 123 Busy
Beavers Learning Centres, which is actively seeking to purchase child care
centres across Canada, starting in BC, Alberta and Ontario.
    "This development threatens decades of work towards a high-quality,
non-profit child care program in Canada. If a multinational like ABC is
successful, public dollars will be diverted away from the system children need
into profits, and they will quickly corner the market, driving down
regulations and quality. Trade agreements will make it difficult to keep them
in check," says CUPE National President Paul Moist. "We need federal
legislation that cuts off the steady stream of public funds that's so enticing
to a corporation like ABC."
    In Australia, where big box child care corporations like ABC dominate,
quality has suffered and fees have risen -- as have corporate profits. Parents
in some urban centres pay over $100 a day for care, and face two-year-long
waiting lists for spaces.
    "The Campbell government's recent capital funding and regulatory changes
seem tailor-made to facilitate a corporation like ABC Learning's entry into
British Columbia. BC child care is not for sale and taxpayers should not be
subsidizing the profits of a foreign-based multinational corporation," says
Crystal Janes, spokesperson for the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC.
"Public money should be used to expand non-profit quality child care centres,
not to turn BC child care into a foreign-owned, big-box warehouse business."
    Bill C-303, the NDP's Early Learning and Child Care Act, would provide
significant protection against a foreign, for-profit corporation taking over
Canadian child care. The bill returns to the House for third reading on
Nov. 20.
    "We must protect our children from profit-driven child care providers.
Only the NDP's Childcare Act will stop the spread of big box child care and
build the foundation for a national non-profit, high quality and affordable
child care program that working parents have long demanded," said NDP child
care critic Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina).

For further information:

For further information: Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613)
558-2873; Nathan Rotman, Office of Olivia Chow, (613) 863-4002; Clay Suddaby,
Event Communications, (604) 313-1138

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