Members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada - National Capital Region and Child Care Now Ottawa held a socially distanced picket outside Ottawa-Vanier MP Mona Fortier’s office to call for urgent action on the child care crisis in the national capital region.
The group took aim at Fortier as the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, calling on her to support families during the pandemic with an immediate injection of $2 billion into child care centres to help them deal with the pandemic and legislation guaranteeing child care as a right for all, as exists currently with health care.
“It seems outrageous to me that the Associate Minister of Finance, who is also the Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity, lives in Ottawa-Vanier and isn’t even paying attention to what’s happening in her own backyard,” said Amanda Quance of Child Care Now Ottawa. “Middle-class prosperity feels like a bit of a dream right now while we live through this nightmare of a pandemic, watching child care centres close, even as parents pay exorbitant fees while balancing work commitments. We need legislation backing this government’s child care promises, like we needed it 50 years ago”
Quance pointed out that Early Childhood Educators often cannot afford to send their own children to child care centres and have had to withdraw from the labour market, creating staffing issues and compounding problems with the availability of child care in the national capital region.
“We need to hear a plan from the government to maintain the existing spaces so that if and when the national child care program rolls out, we are not in a situation of trying to make up for ground we lost during the pandemic.”
PSAC-NCR Regional Executive Vice-President Alex Silas and PSAC activists decided to team up with Child Care Now Ottawa to organize on the common issues facing parents in the national capital region during the pandemic.
“When the Treasury Board changed its policy on federal workers using 699 leave for emergency childcare, requiring parents to use all their sick and vacation time before authorizing 699 leave, I wanted to talk to the advocates who were fighting for child care during the pandemic,” said Silas. “I learned that there’s a real crisis out there for parents, whose options are at best unreliable due to outbreaks and sniffly noses. For the Treasury Board to change the policy and reduce emergency child care options right now just doesn’t make any sense. A pandemic is not the time to be reducing options for emergency child care.”