BY TREVOR STEWART
Wayne Samuelson, the president of the Ontario Federation of Labour, (OFL) wants every Canadian parent to have access to affordable licensed child care.
Samuelson made a stop on the Built it Right Tour in Sudbury Thursday. The tour is sponsored by the OFL, the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, and the Canadian Labour Congress.
The key to revamping child care is to push the federal government to attach strings, or guidelines, to the $5 billion it has pledged to building a national child-care program, said Samuelson.
With the proper guidelines in place, he wants the bulk of new child care centres to be non-profit ventures.
He hoped to rally support for the OFL?s agenda at a community forum on the issue of national child care at the Steelworkers? Hall Thursday night.
?We?re at a critical spot,? Samuelson said. ?This is the first debate over the creation of a national social program in a generation.?
Tracy Saarikoski, from the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care, joined Samuelson at the community forum.
Saarikoski is both a parent and the executive director of Teddy Bear Day Care, a licensed non-profit child care centre, in Garson.
When Saarikoski decided to better her education as a single parent a few years ago, she discovered there wasn?t even a licensed child-care provider in her community. She was left wondering exactly what sort of supervision her child was getting during the day.
The situation in Greater Sudbury has not improved over the last few years.
?Right now, in Sudbury, there is one licensed child-care space for every 7.8 children,? she said. ?If you start looking at communities like Nickel Centre, Lively or Walden, the ratios jump to one space for 20 children.?
The difference between past promises and this federal government allocation, according to Samuelson, is that it?s actually happening. The government has already set up a $700 million fund to get a national program out of the gate.
After holding forums in 15 different Ontario municipalities in 17 days, the OFL will present its stance on a national child-care program at a meeting of
federal, provincial and territorial ministers in mid-March.