Kirby slams government’s lip service to childcare
NDP Education Critic Dale Kirby (MHA, St. John’s North) reacted with disbelief to a government announcement on childcare today.
“For one thing, this is a re-announcement of a pilot project that was introduced in last year’s provincial budget, so it’s nothing new. Much more important, though, this program does not meet the childcare needs of families in Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.
Kirby is most concerned about the initiative’s failure to address the serious concerns about staffing qualification of infant care providers in a home-based setting. “Most seriously – and I am echoing the concerns of professional childcare providers – in order to open a home-based day care, the operator need only complete an entry-level qualification. I would seriously question whether that is enough of a base to look after three infants full-time – particularly if you are in a rural setting with few or no supports,” he said.
Kirby pointed out that he is seriously concerned about the Family Child Care Initiative’s focus on infant care rather than a comprehensive universal child care program in all of our communities.
“There is no indication what parents are supposed to do once their children reach the ripe old age of two,” he said.
The government has no plan, it seems, for addressing the concerns that have been raised repeatedly by the Association of Early Childhood Educators Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Furthermore, this initiative does not do one thing to reduce the costs of childcare for families in the province,” Kirby said. “I continue to hear from people – primarily women – who are leaving the workforce because they cannot afford quality care for their children.
“Is this really the best government can do? Because I can assure you it is by no means the best step for our families.”