Advocates mark International Day of the Child with proclamations against spread of “big box” child care

OTTAWA, Nov. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Parents and early childhood educators are marking the International Day of the Child today by demanding that Parliament take immediate action to halt the intrusion of foreign-based "Big Box" child care into Canada. They are urging MPs to vote in favour of Bill C303, the Early Learning and Child Care Act.

The Act, which returns to the House today for debate and vote, will ensure that new federal funding for early learning and child care will only go to public or non-profit child care and will be used for the benefit of children. It will prevent "Big Box" child care from milking taxpayers' dollars to line the pockets of their shareholders.

"Reports from Australia highlight high parent fees, poor staff wages and working conditions and examples of child neglect. A study by The Australia Institute showed poorer staff to child ratios, insufficient food and less time for children compared to community child care programs", says Morna Ballantyne, coordinator of Code Blue for Child Care.

Activities in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Moncton and Halifax will culminate in a proclamation on the steps Parliament Hill today at 3 p.m., prior to the debate in the House.

"Across the country, groups are demanding that the federal government immediately prevent the foreign take-over of Canadian child care centres and support the passage of Bill C303", said Jody Dallaire, Chair of the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada.

Advocates are concerned that 123 Busy Beavers Learning Centres has already gained a foothold in Alberta. ABC Learning Centres of Australia operates over 2, 500 programs worldwide in Australia, the United States, Britain, New Zealand, China and other countries. "In these countries it's reported that they have rampaged through the country buying up every centre they can find, sweeping them clean of equipment and putting in their own 'plastic funtastics' and providing their own tacky assessment checklists and "curriculum", said Sue Colley of Code Blue.

"Foreign ownership of Canadian child care will kill the dream of a pan- Canadian child care system," said Jody Dallaire. "On this International Child Day, it's time we recognized that our children and families deserve quality, accessible, community-based child care not some gigantic off-shore warehouse operation."