March 1, 2006
CAW urges Prime Minister and Premiers to respect current Childcare Agreements
A Deal is a Deal

CAW president Buzz Hargrove has called on the Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Provincial
Premiers to save the childcare agreements negotiated by the previous federal government with
the provinces.

Hargrove’s letter:
Dear Prime Minister:

On behalf of the more than 260,000 members of the Canadian Auto Workers, Canada’s largest private sector union, I urge your
government to respect the current federal-provincial agreements earmarking almost $5 billion for early learning and child care
programs through to the year 2010.  These agreements were hard-won and the result of extensive negotiations and commitments by
all levels of government.  A deal is a deal.

This view is shared by many, many Canadians – from parent and child care organizations to women’s groups and municipalities.  It
is the view of governments like those of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec which have supported the national system
and the existing bilateral agreements and have also initiated plans based on those agreements and commitments.

It also reflects the wide cross-section of political views represented at the February 14, 2006 ‘Forum on Women's Activism in
Constitutional and Democratic Reform’ in Ottawa which adopted the following resolution:

"We call on this new parliament to support a national child care program that upholds the existing agreements and builds upon them
with a goal of a national program of universal, affordable, high quality, non-profit and accessible, early learning and child care across
Canada. Access to child care is fundamental to women's equality."

We also want to urge your government to enhance these agreements and to build towards a national child care program.
Many workers are stressed out and desperate for the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their children are safe, thriving in a
social setting with other children and learning in the stimulating environment that comes with quality early learning programs.  But - in
the absence of a public program - quality child care and early learning opportunities are often not affordable and in many cases
simply not available.  The proposed $1,200 taxable child allowance would be no substitute for a public program.

This is a matter of concern to both men and women. In recent years an encouraging number of men are playing a larger role in child
rearing.  At the same time, studies show that the greatest responsibility for children under 5 years of age is still carried by women, the
majority of whom are in the labour force.  In 2005, 76 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 and more than 81 per cent of women aged 25
to 39 were participating in the paid labour force.

While our union has been able to negotiate child-care benefits for members in a few workplaces, the fact remains that even these
members confront a desperate shortage of spaces in high quality, non-profit and affordable community child care.  Furthermore, no
union will be able to negotiate such benefits for all members, much less for the unorganized.  We have always recognized that it will
take a strong public program to deliver on this account.

The existing federal-provincial agreements on early learning and child care are an important beginning to providing universal,
affordable, accessible, regulated and quality programs across this country. We urge you to respect them.

Basil “Buzz” Hargrove

Source:  CAW NewsNow

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