Resource program faces the axe

  • Jan. 19, 2007 7:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–Playgroups, toy lending libraries along with support for child care providers and islands’ parents are all set to be chopped after a provincial government announcement early this month. As of next October 1, every Child Care Resource and Referral program in the province will be closed, but in the meantime severe cutbacks will limit services, starting in April. On the islands, there are two CCRR offices, one in Masset and one in Queen Charlotte, which provide employment to two people. Cori Savard, program consultant in Masset, says the cuts will affect all communities on the islands. “Families and children from Masset, Old Massett, Port, Tlell, Charlotte, Skidegate and Sandspit use our services,” she says. Parents use the CCRR program to access information about child care services in the community, for playgroups in Masset and Queen Charlotte each week, and a popular toy lending library. The program provides training to existing daycares and helps new daycares get started, as well as offering support and information about government policies and grants. Last year, entertainer Charlotte Diamond and parenting expert Gordon Neufeld came to the islands thanks to the Child Care Resource and Referral Program and programs like The Incredible Years were offered. Several workshops are scheduled for this year already, but the state of the program after March 31, in Queen Charlotte and Masset is yet to be determined. There are 52 CCRR programs in the province and all will be eliminated. The province recently directed all programs to create store-front locations, meaning many programs moved to bigger and more accessible buildings. Now with the paint not even dry in many locations, the ministry will use an $87-million federal surplus to buy out leases and provide severance packages. The $14-million budget for CCRR will be cut by almost 40-percent by April and eliminated by October. The provincial government has committed to providing $3-million for a new program mandate which has not been released and is uncertain. Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says BC lost nearly half a billion dollars when Prime Minister Stephen Harper cancelled the previous government’s commitment to universal child care. “Yet we didn’t hear a whimper from Premier Gordon Campbell,” he says. Now the NDP are trying to force the federal government to legislate a national child care program. Mr. Cullen says a bill was introduced last spring and will be sent to the house for third reading in a few weeks. The cuts are also forcing some daycare centres to close and others to raise their fees, says provincial NDP child care critic Claire Trevena. She and others in the child care community are calling for the resignation of Minister of State for Child Care Linda Reid.