Parent Voices Reporting (May 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 for parents in this province/territory is…

  • The Provincial Child Care Services Act and Regulations was revised in 1998. The child-staff ratios are quite good, and family child care is now licensed. Family child care can be licensed as an individual child care provider or as a family child care agency. The first child care agency was approved this year. The first infant child care centre was also just licensed in St. John’s. Qualifications for child care providers increased and an educational supplement is available for care providers who have level 1 or 2 certification. Access to child care through federal and provincial funding also increased.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • There are barriers to quality child care that have been delegated to the back burner. There are by far, more “for profit” than “not for profit” centers in the province. Only about 10% of the population seeking child care has access to regulated space. There is a limited workforce available trained in infant care. Funding is an issue for continuing education. Recruitment and retention is a huge issue, with low salaries and lack of benefits being forefront. Government departments are under resourced, resulting in challenges around promotion and pro-active movement for child care not being addressed.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the parents and child care advocates in this province/ territory is…

  • Recognition, respect and value for quality child care centers and child educators is globally lacking. If this is to improve, there needs to be an aggressive and stimulating educational and awareness campaign to create discussion about the value of quality care and education in the critical formative years. The public needs to know what to look for, and how to access quality child care. Parents are often very involved in their kindergarten child’s school curriculum, yet complacent about their 4 year old’s care and education. This divide needs to be bridged and the respect and value of school education needs to be solidly brought back to the beginning.

Child care campaigns and initiatives in our area include….

  • Campaigns and initiative have been sporadic, not well organized or sustained.
  • We are coming into a provincial election, and this is an excellent opportunity to put child care onto the agenda with a punch!

Child care in the news
There has been media coverage for…./the challenge with getting media coverage seems to be….

  • The media needs something that “grabs” to stir its interest. The challenge is to deliver the issues in a provocative way that challenges the system and society’s way of traditionally thinking about child care. The media also tires of the same people always responding to the issues. An organized and well informed group of parent advocates could take on the role of catching attention and challenging some attitudes

Province/Territory: New Brunswick

Parent Rep: Jody Dallaire

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • Government is investing dollars to raise the number of staff working at child care facilities that have some form of ECE training. Implemented a standard that to operate a daycare, either 1 in 4 staff or the director must have a 1 year NB Community College ECE course.
  • Right now is a provincial election campaign, New Brunswickers go to the polls on June 9, so there have been promises made by both sides (PC and Liberal, NDP is a non-factor in the province) for child care.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • Auto insurance rates and seniors issues are dominating the election campaign, not much focus on child care as an election issue. This illustrates the importance of child care in NB government policy.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the parents and child care advocates in this province/ territory is…

  • Focus on raising awareness and getting the political parties’ attention during the election period

Child care campaigns and initiatives in our area include….

  • I vote quality child care election campaign, which includes buttons, fact sheets, questions to ask political candidates. Daycares have ordered buttons and fact sheets for the parents of children attending their facility and Parents for Quality Care has been passing them out to concerned members of the community free of charge.
  • Presentations to city councils (Dieppe and Moncton) in the area, asking for their endorsement of our mandate and to write letters of support to both the provincial and federal levels of government.
  • Petition, gathering signatures to present to the province’s Premier.
  • Official launch, media events, scheduled for May 21 and 22.

Child care in the news
There has been media coverage for…./the challenge with getting media coverage seems to be….

  • Yes, child care has been in the news but thus far auto insurance has been the focus of this election campaign.
  • In the news, following our presentations to city council.
  • Challenge is lack of time to follow up with the media once a press release is sent out.

Province/Territory: Ontario

Parent Rep: Sheri Hincks

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • A provincial election will likely be called soon – speculation is that the election will be some time in the summer or early fall.
  • Potentially good news is that the Tory government, if re-elected has promised to create a new Minister for Human Development.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • In his April 2003 throne Speech premier Ernie Eves stated “every child in Ontario deserves an excellent education and equal opportunity for success in life, regardless of economic circumstances, geographical location, ethnic background or religious belief” – unfortunately there was no mention of child care in support of this endeavor.
  • In the newly released provincial Tory election platform there was NO commitment to invest any money in new child care services. They will continue to invest money in their Early Years Centre – a collection of services that are not new to most communities.
  • 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 priorities of the parents and child care advocates in this province/ territory are…

  • to raise awareness of child care as an issue for healthy communities
  • to help parents become advocates for children
  • to get political parties to pay attention to child care issues during the upcoming election

Child care campaigns and initiatives in our area include….

  • OCBCC has been active in sending out pre-election materials including election signs that read “I vote for child care”, an information pamphlet that explains what voting for child care means, and a chart clearly outlining each of the positions of each of the three major political parties in Ontario.
  • Locally, we have sent a letter to parents in the community inviting them to Brenda Elliott’s (Guelph-Wellingtons MP and Minister of Family and Child Services) Coffee and Chat sessions. On the last Friday of each month Brenda Elliott invites her constituents to informally discuss “issues of the day”.

Child care in the news
There has been media coverage for…./the challenge with getting media coverage seems to be….

  • Across Ontario there has been little mention of child care in the news. The news continues to be dominated by other potential election issues, including tax breaks, medical care, education “reform”, safe drinking water, and hydro privatization. SARS, West Nile virus and pesticide bans also remain hot topics.

Province/Territory: Manitoba

Parent Rep: Donna Riddell

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • More accessibility – the Manitoba government has increased the spaces in the province. Much of this funding goes to spaces already in existence, but operating without their operating grant. However, in this corner of the province I have seen many new centers created – St Claude is the newest in this area to open a rural center.
  • The NDP has won another term in office. They have been supportive of child care, to date – hopefully it won’t change!

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • The subsidy scale – this scale is not adjusted as frequently as it should be in order to adjust for the cost of living increase. There are parents who should qualify and don’t.

Child Care Advocacy
The current priorities of the parents and child care advocates in this province/ territory are…

  • addressing affordability.
    Many parents still struggle with the minimum parent fee of $2.40 per day per child. In the case of a four child family requiring care 20 days per billing period – their bill is a minimum of $192.00. Also, with the subsidy scale ‘off kilter’ most parents have an additional parent portion that they are responsible for.
  • increasing the availability of infant, extended hour and flexible care – in home communities.
  • hoping for additional action in the provincial five year child care plan e.g., a Universal Nursery School system.
  • expanding services provided to families through child care programs. Through the Central Region Healthy Child Coalition, partnerships are growing between child care centers / education / health and other family resource groups. Families can access parenting supports as well as quality child care.

Child care campaigns and initiatives in our area include….

  • Generally, most parent operated child care boards of directors support their staff capacity to earn better wages. The government has recommended that increases to operating grants be put into wages. Many boards have heeded this recommendation, however, a few centers are struggling to attain the recommended pay scale.
  • Rural Child Care – The Rural Voices advocacy project is examining policy and best practices within child care in rural areas of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The project focuses on mentorship between communities to establish quality, accessible child care in rural areas of the provinces.
  • Many Early Childhood Educators were recognized in April during the week of the ECE. This is a chance for parents and boards to celebrate the work of the Early Childhood Educators in their centers. Many staff received treats and creative rewards.

Child care in the news
There has been media coverage for…./the challenge with getting media coverage seems to be….

  • We have just finished the campaign and vote for the provincial government election.

Province/Territory: British Columbia

Parent Rep: Sharon Gregson

Government Child Care Policy
The ‘best news’ about government’s child care policy for parents in this province/territory is…

  • There is now one main grant (Child Care Operating Fund or CCOF) for licensed child care providers – which may mean less paperwork for some.

The ‘worst news’ about government’s child care policy in this province/territory is…

  1. subsidy cuts to low-income families
  2. new operating grant is a smaller pot of money spread over more care providers
  3. child care resource and referral centres are being 100% de-funded
  4. child care / preschool centres are closing
  5. staff wages and benefits are suffering roll-backs to 1998 levels
  6. ECE training and regulations are tenuous
  7. parent fees are increasing

Child Care Advocacy
The current priority of the parents and child care advocates in this province/ territory is…

  1. To draw public attention to the devastating cuts the government is imposing
  2. For advocates to work together

Child care campaigns and initiatives in our area include….

  1. successful diaper campaign
  2. handprint campaign
  3. not celebrating child care month in a variety of ways across the province
  4. the annual student advocacy forum was held for ECE students
  5. some communities held a Day of Mourning for child care on March 31st
  6. we will be participating in the Day of Defiance snake march on May 23rd.

Child care in the news
There has been media coverage for…./the challenge with getting media coverage seems to be….

  1. We were able to attract lots of media attention, TV and radio, at a rally outside the Premier’s constituency office.
  2. Outside of greater Vancouver child care has been getting lots of press in local newspapers.
  3. The challenge is getting media to critique the government announcements and show a different voice.
  4. We were able to ask a question about child care to Paul Martin at a town hall meeting.
  5. The provincial opposition (NDP) is featuring child care in many places preparing for next election.
  6. We are successfully building relationships with unions and women’s organizations.

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