AFL throws its support behind campaign for national childcare program

EDMONTON - If Jean Chretien's Liberals really want to do something significant to mark National Child Day on Saturday, they should live up to their promises and establish a comprehensive national childcare program, says the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

Audrey Cormack says the AFL - the largest union organization in the province - will be throwing its support behind a campaign calling for a new national strategy on families and children. The campaign is sponsored by the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC) and supported by dozens of unions, churches and community groups.

"Unions across this country have been working hard to negotiate better child care provisions for their members - it is fast becoming one of our top priorities," says Cormack. "But we can never win these kinds of benefits for all unionized workers, let alone the millions of Canadians who don't belong to unions. That's why we feel so strongly about the need for a national childcare program. All working families in Canada should have access to high quality care for their children."

Cormack's announcement of support for the national childcare campaign coincides with National Child Day. In 1993, the federal government designated November 20 as National Child Day to commemorate two historic United Nations events: the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959 and the adoption of the more comprehensive Convention on the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1989.

"I can think of no better way for the Liberals to mark the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child than by committing themselves to a new national strategy on children and families," says Cormack. "Now that the federal government is recording multi-billion dollar surpluses it's time for the Liberals to live up to the promises they made about national child care when they were in Opposition."

Cormack says the need for a national childcare program is being felt particularly keenly by parents in Alberta, where the provincial government recently eliminated all operating allowances for daycare facilities. The Conservative government has also restricted full daycare subsidies to families earning less than $24,000 per year (net income) and single parents earning less than

$20,000 per year (net income). These changes have forced up the cost of daycare and caused tremendous hardship for many working families - especially those in middle-income brackets, says Cormack.

"Access to high-quality child care and early childhood education is extremely important for children, parents and society as a whole," she says. "But here in Alberta, quality child care is being priced out of reach for many working families. The need for federal action in this area has never been clearer."

Cormack says the AFL will support the national childcare campaign by lobbying politicians, participating in rallies and forums and educating union members and the general public.

"In the end it boils down to political will. We at the AFL will do everything we can to remind the federal government of their responsibility to children and families. We will also remind politicians and the public of the many benefits that would come with a national childcare program. It's a win-win proposition."

For more information call:

Audrey Cormack, President     @     499-6530(cell)/483-3021(wk)/428-9367(hm)

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