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Protesters demand Quebec government reinvest in public daycares

WATCH: Two separate protests were held in Montreal and Saint-Félicien Saturday afternoon, to denounce what the unions describe as ongoing austerity measures in Quebec's public daycares.

Hundreds took part in two separate protests Saturday afternoon, to demand the Quebec government reinvest in the province’s public daycare system known also known as as Centres de la Petite Enfance (CPE).

Protesters gathered in front of Premier Philippe Couillard’s constituency office in Saint-Félicien, in the Lac-Saint-Jean region, as well as Couillard’s Montreal office at 1:30 p.m. ET.

READ MORE: Protesters denounce Quebec public daycare cuts

The protests were organized by the health and social services federation within the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN).

Julie Legault, who provides home daycare services and is a union representative for the Outaouais region, said the Liberal government’s sliding scale fee structure– where parents pay for services based on income — is hurting public daycares.

“It’s pushing the parents to search for daycare in the private sector,” Legault said.

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She argued parents were turning to the private sector because it was beneficial to their wallets but warned that private daycares are not subject to the same rules and regulations.

READ MORE: Quebec daycares stage province-wide protests

According to Legault, parents should choose public over private daycares because of the quality of the services offered.

“Because it is monitored, because we do have to apply an educational program, because there are routine inspections, there are laws and regulations that we have to apply,” Legault said.

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The CSN said the network of public daycares in the province provides services to around 400,000 children.

“We’re hoping the government will back down and will start reinvesting money into the public daycare system,” Legault said.

The trade union maintains that Quebec’s network of CPEs are the envy of the world and argues that despite a budget surplus of $3.6 billion, the government continues to impose “unjust austerity measures on parents and workers.”

WATCH BELOW: Quebec daycare protests

–With files from the Canadian Press