The threatened closure of at least two child care centres located in federal buildings and serving public service employees as well as other families put a spotlight on PSAC’s child care bargaining demand in contract talks today with the federal government’s Treasury Board.
“Treasury Board’s failure to properly implement its policy on workplace day care is putting centres at risk of closing and that’s a problem we want fixed in this round of bargaining,” said National President Robyn Benson.
The policy provides for child care centres to be set up in partnership with community child care organizations when a government department is willing to be a sponsor. The centre is eligible for a rental subsidy as long as a significant portion of the day care spaces are filled by the children of federal government employees.
Departments terminating sponsorships because of higher costs
The previous Conservative government changed the administration of the program by requiring the sponsoring departments to absorb the cost of the rental subsidy. As a result, several departments terminated their sponsorship forcing their partner child care centres to either close, move elsewhere, or pay extremely high market-based rent to Public Works.
PSAC and the sixteen other federal unions have asked Treasury Board to put a moratorium on the rent increases. “The child care centres have told us they can’t afford the rent increase without hiking parent fees which are already more than $1,400 a month in some cases and beyond the reach of the vast majority of our members,” said Benson.
“We keep hearing from the Prime Minister and the President of Treasury Board that they want to find ways to help employees reach balance between family and work. Yet, we are still waiting for an answer and question why the new Liberal government is continuing the previous government’s practice that is threatening the centres.”
PSAC demand calls for joint action
The union’s bargaining demand calls for a joint union-employer child care committee to study the problem of child care access and affordability for employees and to arrive at solutions.
“We’ve already seen very positive results from the Joint Task Force on Mental Health that was established through the collective bargaining process and we believe this could produce similar results for child care,” said Benson.