Parent Voices Reporting (October 2003)

Regional Representatives Reports

Province/Territory: Newfoundland and Labrador

Parent Rep: Clare Bessell

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

The recent Liberal provincial government had invested money from the Early Childhood Development Initiative into improving wages of child care educators. The government recently reviewed this initiative and released a publication titled Evaluation of the Early Educational Supplement: An Early Childhood Development Initiative. This outside review supported the effort to raise wages to reflect educational preparation and made recommendations for the future. Another report was also released titled Stepping into the Future: Newfoundland and Labrador’s Early Childhood Development Initiative. Although the government that developed this plan for child care recently lost the October 2003 provincial election, the hope is that there is good evidence now available at the governmental level to sustain and further develop policy under a new minister.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

The recent provincial election resulted in a change in government to the P.C. party, a provincial party that has not yet developed a child care vision. However, perhaps this is an opportunity to inform and collaborate with government in developing a sound provincial plan for child care, and to turn this environment into a potential ‘best news’ report!

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the child care advocates/parents in my province:

  • To introduce ourselves to the new minister and to work towards establishing an open and collaborative relationship that will work towards developing a sound provincial child care plan.
  • To continue to evolve a formal, cross provincial parent network through an email list serve and perhaps to develop an electronic newsletter.

Our most recent campaigns and initiatives include:

Working on the recent provincial campaign. Candidates were emailed and were asked for an overview of their party’s child care platform. A ‘Challenge your Candidate’ campaign was developed that encouraged parents to ask their provincial and district candidates about their vision for child care in the province. During the T.V. election coverage, a panel of voters discussed the election returns as they came in. Two of the five panelists were early childhood educators who took advantage of the opportunity to speak publicly about the importance of a social strategic plan involving child care as the cornerstone of government policy.

The CCAAC can best support our advocacy by:

…sticking with us!!! The support, information, guidance and encouragement that have been provided have been critical in developing and sustaining parents’ involvement in child care advocacy. I see our moving going forward as a team approach with the support of the CCAAC. It would be difficult for parents to invest in advocacy at this level without the support of the Parent Voices Project. My experience with this group has truly been the most powerful, informative, and fun advocacy adventure of my life!


Province/Territory: New Brunswick

Parent Rep: Jody Dallaire

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • The Advisory Council on the Status of Women in NB will be focusing one of its public/political awareness campaigns on the importance of and why we need public funding for quality, accessible and affordable child care services in the province of New Brunswick.
  • As part of this campaign, we (Parents, educators, provincial association and daycare operators) met with the minister responsible for the Advisory Council and are having another meeting with her, the Minister of Family & Community Services and the Department of Education to brainstorm a long term strategic plan for the child care sector. The long term plan will result out of the recommendations made through a round table established last year to study the wage gap between men and women in the province. Many of the recommendations touch child care in one way or another.
  • In addition, at this meeting, the Minister conceded to the immediate problems plaguing the child care system in the province and also wants to brainstorm solutions to rectify these as well.
  • During the last provincial election, promises were made to raise the subsidy provided to low income families by raising the family income threshold for a full day care subsidy under the Day Care Assistance Program from the current $15,000 to $22,000.The government is also slotted to increase the day care assistance program subsidy rate by $3.50 per day for full-time care and $1.50 per day for school-aged children to $22.00 per day for children under the age of two, $20.00 per day for children over the age of two; and $10.00 per day for school children.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • Lately the news has focused on the bleak financial situation in the province where we owe millions of dollars to the federal government in overpayment that NB received through the federal-provincial equalization formula.Also after the June provincial election, the provincial government has asked each provincial department to cut 5% of its budget expenditures to ensure that the province does not run a deficit.

    The current economic climate within government lends me to think that we are not likely to see new investments in the child care sector in the province to address the quality and accessibility issues.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the child care advocates/parents in my province:

  • continuing to lobby government, we are in a regrouping phase to determine what campaigns will take place this year
  • participating in the provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women Campaign
  • participating in federal initiatives organized through PV
  • recruiting new members to ensure that our current parents do not burn out.
  • following up on promises made during the election campaign in May-June

Our most recent campaigns and initiatives include:

  • provincial election campaign
  • submission and presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance
  • participation with the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in their public and political awareness campaign

The CCAAC can best support our advocacy by:

  • continuing the parents voices project – ready to use federal advocacy campaigns, copies of press releases to major announcements
  • supporting our provincial advocacy work as have done in the past
  • providing us with opportunities for learning from the experiences of others (participation in the Council of the Child Care Advocates meetings)
  • providing parents with web space to advocate for child care

Province/Territory: Ontario

Parent Rep: Sheri Hincks

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • A provincial election was called in October and after 8 years of Tory government- funding cuts, and general lack of support of childcare, Ontarians chose change and voted overwhelmingly in favor of a Liberal government!
  • In his swearing in speech, Dalton McGuinty spent a great deal of time emphasizing the importance of family and children.
  • A new “Children’s ministry” has been created

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • The NDP lost its official party status in the election. Shelly Martel, the NDP children’s critic and a long time supporter of child care will no longer be able to ask questions during question period.
  • We still have yet to hear how “regulated” child care will be defined by the liberals- there is concern that it will simply mean “police check”.
  • High quality child care in Ontario is still not a matter of choice for most people- it is neither available nor affordable.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the child care advocates/parents in my province:

  • To raise awareness of child care as an issue for healthy communities
  • To help parents become advocates for children
  • To recognize the important role of early childhood educators
  • To define for parents what high quality childcare means – and why every child/ parent should be entitled to it.
  • To get political parties to pay attention to child care issues
  • To provide moral support for our childcare workers

Our most recent campaigns and initiatives include:

  • Provincial election campaigns: information and election readiness kits from the OCBCC. Sent letters to the editor, participated in Friday phone fun, put up posters, attended all candidates’ debates, and sent emails to our local candidates.
  • Post election: we sent emails/ phone calls to our newly elected liberal MPP discussing issues of “regulation” and “qualifications”- what will they mean.
  • Celebrating childcare worker appreciation day: children at our centre decorated paper balloons, and wrote special message to their caregivers thanking them for the things they do in a day and reminding them how very important they are to our families.
  • Submission of a pre-budget brief to the federal Standing Committee on Finance
  • Plans for meeting with local childcare professionals to see how we can work together to get more parents involved.

The CCAAC can best support our advocacy by:

  • Continuing to help us understand local, provincial/territorial and pan-Canadian child care issues.
  • Continuing the “ready to use” advocacy campaigns
  • Continuing to send newspaper clippings and major announcements
  • Providing us with opportunities for learning from the experiences of others
  • Being our moral support and helping us celebrate small successes
  • Reminding us where we are going and that yes it can be achieved!

Province/Territory: Manitoba

Parent Rep: Donna Riddell

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • The systems working with child care are getting closer to working in partnership. The regional healthy authorities, Healthy Child Manitoba, Child Day Care and Education are starting to network to ensure services for families are more inclusive – non competitive which makes it easier for parents to get child care parenting supports that are needed
  • Families are anticipating universal Nursery School – a step in the Five Year plan released by the Manitoba Government in 2001. This would lower the family’s costs making this service available to all.
  • Funding put into wages / training is noted and appreciated by staff / boards. While there is still a shortage of trained staff, parents are becoming more aware of the importance of a trained ECE – partially because of the funds attached.
  • Due to the BSE crisis – Child Day Care in Manitoba has waived the parent portion of subsidized families who rely on the beef industry for their main income.

Other good news:

  • Parents in the South Central have been proud to see Dorothy Lawler’s center included in visits by the OECD committee. This made local papers – increasing the visibility of quality child care.
  • Rural Voices show cased 10 centres from Manitoba at their symposium in Saskatoon in October.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • Parents still complain about the subsidy scale – it needs to be adjusted with the cost of living increases from the past 12 – 13 years.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the child care advocates/parents in my province:

  • Maintaining ‘ownership’ of ECE. As more departments begin to dabble in ECE – at times Child Day Care programs feel threatened. A parent in Portage la Prairie voiced concerns that their Nursery School will be ‘sucked up’ by the Education system, or the Regional Healthy Authority doing parenting / child development home visits – which many Child Day Care Centres have done informally – forever.
  • There are more new spaces / diverse services – noticeable in rural communities. Therefore there is a rush for staff training to work these new spaces.

Our most recent campaigns and initiatives include:

  • Budget consultation meetings beginning in November across the province. Parents and ECE’s will be rallied to voice issues for child care.
  • Rural Voices – Help or Hindrance document has been released and will be presented to government and advocates
  • Phase IV recommended salary scale has been released to Parent Boards. The response will be supportive – but with hesitancy as a new lobby effort will begin to ensure that the province increases funding in order to pay the recommended wages.

The CCAAC can best support our advocacy by:

  • The work on the web site – connecting parents and advocates.
  • The creation of tools used for advocacy campaigns.
  • Gathering of participants – the personal contact is needed for motivation.
  • Overall support for the parents in this group!

Province/Territory: BC

Parent Rep: Sharon Gregson

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • reversal of de-funding decision of child care resource and referral
    centres which are a tremendous asset for parents seeking child care information.
  • hard to see any good news when parent fees are up and centres are closing.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy in my province:

  • provincial government is not using federal dollars to enhance the child care system, just to replace provincial cuts.
  • it is very difficult for parents to know what is going on when government reports good news about early childhood development and child care but the experience of parents is that good child care is hard to find and harder to afford.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the child care advocates/parents in my province:

  • to wage an effective campaign to ensure child care is an issue in the
    2004 federal and 2005 provincial elections. To start early and to engage parents and partners.
  • to build on the momentum the PV in BC has generated. The goal is to turn around the losses of the past 2.5 years and start to build a system rather than dismantle one.

Our most recent campaigns and initiatives include:

  • highly successful petitions to accompany federal and provincial
    submissions to the respective finance committees.
  • Parents are far more engaged in advocacy and far more comfortable with expressing their need for child care services. We are successfully engaged in a public education process.
  • We have had written material at several high profile events, i.e.
    conferences, symposiums, conventions, labour events, women’s organization events, etc.
  • making good use of the website as a resource for parent information.

The CCAAC can best support our advocacy by:

  • continuing to support parent involvement as much as possible.
  • continuing with staff support.
  • continuing with the strong philosophy that parents have an integral role to play in advocating for quality, affordable child care.

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