Harper's $1 billion cut deepens Ottawa's child care crisis

    OTTAWA, March 30 /CNW Telbec/ - Parents, child care workers and advocates
joined together on a major Ottawa bridge this morning to protest the biggest
child care cut in Canadian history - a cut that makes an already bad situation
worse for families in the nation's capital.
    "On April 1st Stephen Harper is introducing the biggest child care cut in
Canadian history. This is money that Canadians were counting on. So, too, were
the provinces. The cut is going to have devastating consequences for parents
and children who are already in desperate need of affordable quality child
care services," says Ottawa resident Morna Ballantyne, coordinator of the Code
Blue for Child Care campaign.
    Advocates rallied on the Portage Bridge to draw attention to a $1 billion
dollar cut they say Stephen Harper is trying to hide from Canadians. In last
week's budget, the Conservative government claimed it was investing more than
$5 billion in early learning and child care.
    "That's an outright lie," says Ballantyne. "The only new money allocated
for the creation of new child care spaces is a $250 million transfer to the
provinces and territories. That's $1 billion less than what was promised to
Canadians in the federal-provincial child care agreements."
    Ottawa parents face an average wait of two years to get a spot in
regulated child care. There are 10,000 names on Ottawa's centralized waiting
list. Many families don't even bother to get on the waiting list because they
can't afford the high fees which run as high as $1,400 a month for infants or
    "What I and thousands of other parents across this city want is for the
federal government to show genuine support for parents working to make ends
meet and support our children," says Donna Aki, Ottawa mother of two boys who
are in informal child care arrangements because she can't afford child care
centre fees.
    "Harper's policy of handing over small amounts of money to individual
parents instead of investing in a child care system means lower levels of
government end up without the resources they need to address community needs,"
says Ottawa-based child care advocate Shellie Bird. "Child care in Ottawa is
only going to get more expensive as a result of a City of Ottawa decision to
limit operating grants to the City's regulated centres."
    The Ottawa action for child care is one of several taking place today and
tomorrow in communities across Canada.

    Code Blue is a Canada-wide campaign to build a real pan-Canadian child
care system. The campaign brings together parents, national, provincial and
territorial child care organizations, labour, women's and social justice
groups along with Canadians from all walks of life. Find out more at
www.buildchildcare.ca .

For further information:

For further information: contact: Morna Ballantyne, Code Blue
Coordinator, (613) 791-3411

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