A year ago, the OCBCC with the Ontario Federation of Labour sounded the alarm on for-profit child care by touring the Province and hosting community meetings. We warned that establishment of 123 Busy Beavers, linked with ABC Learning Centres in Australia would put at risk our vision of an affordable, universal child care system with well paid and well trained staff.
We were right. In November, ABC Learning Centres declared bankrupcy. Even with millions of dollars from the Australian Government to prevent the outright colapse of child care in Australia, many centres have closed, families do not know if they will have child care in the future, and low paid staff were left worried about their jobs.
We called on the Ontario Government for legistation that would direct new child care licsense to the not-for-profit, public and First Nations sector while grandparenting the existing for-profit child care centres in Ontario. We called for a universal affordable child care system like in Quebec and for the Provincial Government to meet pay equity obligations.
Many of Ontario's municipal governments saw the threat. When the Ontario Government failed to act many municipalities passed resolutions to direct new purchase of service agreements with for-profit companies.
The dramatic demise of ABC Learning Centres does not mean the threat of corporate child care has passed. Individuals, corporations and Real Estate Investement Trusts are currently lobbying government in Canada with property development and leaseback schemes.
Public funds to for-profit companies are not wise investment with public dollars. Research shows that the quality of child care is lower in for-profit companies. An example is that wages - the largest part of any child care budget, where just 50% of the overall budget at ABC Learning Centre - while non-profit child care dedicated 85% of the overall budget to better trained staff who will stay longer.
To read our report delivered to the Waterloo Regional Council, please click here.