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Save Quebec daycare

Chantal Sundaram

February 9, 2016

On February 7 in Montreal, 20,000 people took to the streets to protest the Quebec government’s plan to cut $120 million from subsidized daycares across the province in April.

Daycare providers, parents, grand-parents and children braved the cold in 18 cities across Quebec to protest the Quebec Liberals’ plans, at the call of the Association québécoise des Centres de la Petite Enfance, the most significant organization in Quebec daycare.

Louis Sénécal, its president, was quoted in media reports in defense of both the service to children and to jobs. There are between 2,000 and 2,500 jobs at stake if the Quebec Liberals move forward with their cuts.

Quebec’s daycare system is the most affordable, accessible and high quality daycare anywhere in Canada, a system that should be a beacon to all. Instead, the Quebec Liberals are systematically dismantling it as one of the meanest parts of their austerity agenda. They have already slashed nearly $300 million in daycare spending since 2014.

The rally was one of 18 held in cities throughout Quebec, and parents and advocacy groups have been protesting these cuts since last year.

It was not directly part of the Common Front strikes and protests that recently rocked Quebec in defence of other public services including elementary education, with parents forming human chains around schools. But clearly that fight has given renewed confidence to those who want to defend daycare.

The protest saw visible support from Québec Solidaire, who have a solid record of defending affordable daycare. It also saw an opportunistic appearance from the Parti Québécois, who captured a surprising amount of media attention, given that during their recent single term in office following the student strike of 2012 they themselves began the dismantling of Quebec daycare now continued by the Liberals.

What is clear is that Quebec’s affordable daycare will not become a casualty of austerity without a major fight. 

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