QUEBEC CITY – As the Liberal Party caucus met at the National Assembly, members were greeted by chants from some public daycare owners protesting outside.
Demonstrations like these are not going away, according to the Association Québécoise des CPE (AQCPE).
“On the contrary, it’s getting stronger and stronger by the day,” said Marie-Claude Lemieux, AQCPE director.
“We’re expecting thousands and thousands of people will gather in Montreal on Sunday for a big gathering and in six other cities in Quebec.”
At the start of the caucus, Premier Philippe Couillard insisted education is one of his top priorities, but the AQCPE said that doesn’t correspond with their $120 million daycare budget cuts.
“We think we’re justified to go on with our mobilization across Quebec. The parents are behind us; a majority of CPEs are behind us,” said Lemieux.
The AQCPE left the negotiating table in December, but wants a chance to sit down with the new family minister to convince him to reconsider.
Minister Sébastien Proulx reiterated Wednesday he will not go back on cuts to Quebec’s daycares, but he declined an interview Thursday to talk about this new wave of planned protests.
However, not all daycares are against the decision.
The two private, subsidized daycare associations have signed an agreement with the government, as well as the other public daycare association, the Conseil Québécois des Services de la Garde Éducatif de l’Enfance (CQSGEE).
“There’s not a $120 million cutback,” said CQSGEE director Francine Lessard.
“At most, there’s a $14 million shortfall.”
It will be made up by finding efficiencies, she explained, because daycares have had plenty of time to prepare.
The government first advised them of cutbacks in November 2014.
“We negotiated measures to soften and facilitate what the Centres de la Petite Enfance, managers and administrative councils will have to do,” said Lessard.
She added they invited the AQCPE to sign the same agreement.