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Daycare strike Monday affects 21,000 children

File photo of children at daycare. Public daycare workers across Quebec are threatening to go on a 1-day strike Monday.
File photo of children at daycare. Public daycare workers across Quebec are threatening to go on a 1-day strike Monday. Staff/Global News

Parents of more than 21,000 children across Quebec are scrambling to find alternate childcare on Monday as daycare workers go on  strike.

Negotiations between the provincial government and the union for educators of Quebec’s Centres de la petite enfance (CPE) broke down on Thursday and have not picked up since.

Louise Labrie, a spokesperson for the La Centrale des syndicats nationaux (CSN), which represents 11,000 workers in 400 early childhood education centres in Quebec, is accusing the government of being inflexible when it comes to the demands it places on workers.

READ MORE: Quebec subsidized daycare workers vote in favour of strike mandate

Quebec’s Ministry of Families wants to push the age of retirement from 60 to 61 and assume part of the retirement plan’s future deficits, a demand Labrie said is impossible.

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The union says it has proposed other solutions, which the government has refused to consider.

“They told us, if you don’t accept one or the other of these points, we won’t discuss anything else,” Labrie told the Canadian Press. “Our system is going very well, there is no reason to ask for these changes, except for ideological reasons.”

Reached by phone, Karl Filion, spokesperson for the Quebec families minister, Luc Fortin, said he didn’t want to negotiate in public and reiterated comments Fortin gave in a statement on Thursday.

READ MORE: Quebec government accused of trying to dismantle daycare system by employee

In the statement, the province blamed the union for “sticking to its positions,” adding that he was available to negotiate “day and night if necessary.”

“The latest negotiations were very positive and have made it possible to settle the vast majority of clauses,” Fortin said in the statement. “I am confident that the parties will be able to settle the remaining clauses within the budgetary framework and I invite the FSSS-CSN to continue discussions so that a positive outcome can be reached for all parties, especially for Quebec families.”

READ MORE: Quebec injects $60 million into daycares to help prepare for looming cuts

But Labrie says the union will not return to the negotiation table until the government puts aside the two proposals for the retirement plan.

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“We are ready to negotiate on all other subjects,” she said. “They can call us, we are available, our calendar is open.”

Following Monday’s planned strike, daycare workers will return to work on Tuesday, but it is difficult to know what will happen afterwards.

“There will be five remaining strike days left, but it will depend on whether [the government] moves or not,” said Labrie. “Right now, we don’t know when we will use those days.